Happy Easter to all my readers celebrating Easter this weekend! Our family celebrates Easter according to the Julian calendar – so we still have the whole month to go this year – but I decided to bake my first batch of paska today. Paska – паска in Ukrainian – is a traditional round Easter bread, made of rich egg noodles. The upper part of the paska is decorated with religious ornaments of dough baked in the bread itself, the cross is a central motif. Traditionally, paska is brought to church on Easter morning in a wicker basket lined with an embroidered cloth (along with other traditional Easter foods) to be blessed by the priest, while the crowd cheerfully chants “Christ is risen!”
Where did my ancestors come from (i.e. Western Ukraine), a paska not to be confused with a babka, the latter is a very rich, sweet and dense bread with a cake-like crumb. A babka is usually cylindrical in shape and taller than a paska. It is often covered with a sugar glaze and may contain raisins or other dried fruit. A telltale sign of a babka day is a multitude of greasy coffee cans laid out on the kitchen counter!
As I said before, I prepare korovayi from Savella Stechishin’s kolach recipe. Savella’s paska recipe requires more eggs, sugar and butter and is therefore a little different to work with, so this is my “tester” batch (they didn’t come out too shabby, but we obviously have to taste them too;)). One of the paska will be gifted to my French-Canadian in-laws, while the other two will be devoured by my group at breakfast – buttered and smothered in honey cream, of course.