Wednesday, April 04, 2007

One of My Favorite Easter Foods

At Easter time, my Slovak family always ate special foods. One of them was paska, a round bread with a golden crust and yellow center made from eggs, butter, and white raisins (indicative of living bread come down from Heaven). My Slovak Baba (grandmother) would make a tiny paska just for me to put in my Easter basket. It is one of my favorite memories. Here is my grandma's recipe.

Paska (Easter Bread)

Paska is made to commemorate the fact that Jesus is the living bread come down from heaven in the Holy Eucharist.

You need to prepare a “basic” dough and a “cheese dough” for this recipe.

Basic Dough
8 c. flour ½ c. sugar
2 tsp. salt 2 c. milk (boiling point)
1 c. warm water 1 cake yeast (large)
1 tbsp. sugar 3 eggs
¼ stick butter

Crumble yeast in ½ c. warm water with 1 tablespoon sugar. Set aside for 5 minutes. Pour boiling milk over sugar and butter, add balance of water. Cool to lukewarm. Sift flour into bowl, add salt, eggs, milk mixture and yeast. Knead dough until smooth and elastic. Cover. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 2 hours).

Cheese Dough

1 cake yeast (1 oz)
1 lb. dry cottage cheese (you can substitute non-fat cottage cheese with liquid squeezed out if you can’t find dry cottage cheese)
1 c. yellow raisins
4 egg yolks
1 c. sugar (or less according to taste)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. lemon rind
1 tsp. baking powder
½ c. milk
3 c. flour (sifted)

Crumble yeast in warm milk to which 1 tablespoon sugar has been
added and let stand 5 minutes. Mix dry cottage cheese with spoon until smooth. Add raisins and yeast mixture. Add unbeaten egg yolks, remaining sugar, salt, lemon rind, baking powder and flour.
Knead well. Set aside to rise until doubled in bulk (about 2 hours).

When basic dough has doubled in size, turn out onto lightly floured board and shape into four parts. Let stand on board, covered for about 15 minutes. Take one part of dough and lightly punch around the edge so that the center is elevated. Take ¼ of cheese dough
and place around the elevated center then lightly make an opening in the center. Join edges of center with the outside edges, press carefully so that the cheese dough is completely covered. Place into round baking dish and let rise approximately 30 minutes.
Cover dough to prevent drying. Just before placing into oven, brush top with beaten egg yolk and milk. Bake for 10 minutes at 325 °F. Increase temperature to 350 °F and bake for an additional 40 minutes.
Tip: prepare the cheese dough first; then make the basic dough.
Yield = 4 paska

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