Weekend Recipe: Ukrainian Easter bread

Ukrainian Easter Bread

Паска | Paska

Sometimes called kulich but we call it paska in the south, this is a slightly bonkers cousin of the Italian panettone. Don’t be put off by the mashed potato starter – it adds a beautiful texture to the bread. When my friend Emma tested the original recipe, I received an alarmed email from her that simply enquired, ‘Is your Aunt a professional baker?’ There was so much dough and it was so alive that it exploded in her huge Magimix bowl and all over the refrigerator. Moral of the story – we make A LOT of these during Easter, which is our biggest religious holiday.

Makes 3 x 800g (1lb 10oz) breads

3 potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 litre (1¾ pints) cold water
3 tablespoons organic plain flour

250ml (8fl oz) warm milk
15g (¾oz) fresh yeast or 7g ( ¼oz) dried active yeast
4 egg yolks, at room temperature
150g (5oz) caster sugar
1kg (2lb) plain flour
sunflower oil, for oiling
100g (3½oz) sultanas

175g (6oz) icing sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons water
hundreds and thousands, to decorate (optional)

1 For the starter, place the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with the water and bring to the boil. Cook for 15 minutes or until quite soft.

2 Pour away all but 200ml (7fl oz) of the cooking water and mash the potatoes with the remaining liquid.

3 Add the flour and mix well, then cover and leave in a warm place for 12 hours.

4 To make the dough, add the milk (make sure it’s warm but not hot) and the yeast to the starter and mix well.

5 Beat the egg yolks with the sugar in a large bowl with an electric whisk until foamy.

6 Fold the milk and yeast mixture into the egg mixture. Gradually sift in and mix in the flour – the dough should be firm but bouncy. Cover the dough with a clean tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour.

7 Moisten your hands with some sunflower oil and knead the dough for about 15 minutes. Scatter the sultanas on your work surface and knead them into the dough.

8 Now divide the dough into 4 pieces. Oil 3 x 800g (1lb 10oz) cleaned tomato cans and half-fill them with the dough. Leave to prove in a warm place for 1 hour.

Extracted from Mamushka by Olia Hercules. Available here

9 Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

10 Place the cans on a baking sheet and bake for 40–45 minutes on the lowest shelf of the oven. Let the breads cool completely in the tins, then run a palette knife around the edges to help remove from the tins.

11 To make the glaze, whisk the icing sugar, vanilla extract and water together in a bowl, then brush over the top of the breads, letting it drip along the sides. Decorate with hundreds and thousands, if you like.


Extracted from Mamushka by Olia Hercules. Available here

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