Ukrainian Braided Coffeecake (Paska)
3 loaves scale / convert
2 pkg. active dry yeast (2 Tablespoons)
1/4 tsp. powdered ginger
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp. sugar
1-1/2 cup undiluted evaporated milk
2/3 to 1 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1 lemon, rind of
1 orange, rind of
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 eggs, room temperature
7 to 8 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 slightly beaten egg
2 tbsp. undiluted evaporated milk
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water; add the teaspoon sugar and ginger, stir, and let stand for 5 minutes until yeast foams. If it does not foam in any way the yeast is not fresh.
Empty the milk into a pan and warm just to between 105 F and 115 F. degrees. Add the milk, sugar according to sweetness desired, salt, lemon rind and orange rind and vanilla, eggs, and half the flour. Beat with an electric mixer or spoon until dough is smooth and shiny. Beat in the melted butter and oil. Add remaining flour 1 cup at a time until dough is stiff but not dry. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes. Turn out onto lightly floured board and knead until satiny and smooth, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, grease it, and add dough to bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Turn risen dough out onto breadboard and divide into 3 portions.
Divide each portion into 3 parts.
Roll out each portion to make strands about 24 inches long.
Put all three strands at a point and braid as if you are braiding your hair. You will have 3 braided loaves.
Place on lightly greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
This will make 3 braided loaves.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Mix egg and milk to make glaze and brush braids with the mixture. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
TO MAKE PASKA: Butter coffee cans or any can of any size you wish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Fill 2/3 of dough in the coffee cans or similar. Let rise as above. Preheat oven to 375 F. Glaze tops with egg wash. Bake for 20 minutes then reduce heat to 350 degrees F. and bake another 10 or 15 more minutes depending on size of cans until tops are dark brown. I like to use parchment paper in the coffee cans. Buttered well and bread crumbs added for easier removal. Gently remove paska from can. I like to use an instant Thermometer, it should register 170 F. and the bread is done.
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