Monday, January 10, 2011

Russian Easter Bread (Paska) and spread

This is a traditional bread that you need to start the night before. It is rich and reminiscent of Challah with the eggs, cream and butter, giving a wonderful flavor. The spread is really not hard to make- creamy and slightly sweet with a hint of lemon. To obtain the traditional shape (mushroom shape), you need to bake them in coffee cans.

This recipe makes 3 very large loaves of bread and a huge amount of the spread. Since I did not want to make so many large ones, I reduced the recipe by 1/3. I then divided the final dough into 3 parts and used small coffee cans. If you do not have coffee cans, you might used regular loaf pans and adjust the baking time. Even reducing the spread recipe, it still made a fairly large bowl- approximately 2 1/2 cups of spread.

  • 2 cups flour (plus more to finish dough later)
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 10 eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 1 1/2 yeast cakes (3 tsp dry instant yeast)
  • Dissolve yeast and 1 Tbsp sugar in 1/2 cup warm water. 
  • Scald milk and cream; while hot, pour over the 2 cups of flour. 
  • When flour mixture is cooled, add beaten egg yolks that have been mixed well with sugar. 
  • Add dissolved yeast and beaten egg whites. Beat thoroughly and put in a warm place to rise overnight- a crock pot on warm (lowest setting) would be good, depending on the type of slow cooker, or in a warm oven with towels around it. 
  • In the morning, add butter and enough flour to make a dough that no longer sticks to fingers. 
  • Let rise for about 1-2 hours. Then divide dough into 3 parts, putting each part into a greased gallon tin can (large coffee cans). 
  • Let rise 2 hours and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until golden brown.
  • Cool in tins on cooling rack about 15 minutes, then turn out onto rack to finish cooling. 
this is the starter after being in the warmed oven all night

the dough after adding the extra flour and butter

Cheese Spread for Paska:
  • 4 cups cottage cheese
  • yolks of 10 hard cooked eggs
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp grated lemon rind or 1/2 tsp lemon extract or flavoring

  • Press cheese and egg yolks through a sieve- or mash together. 
  • Bring cream to a boil and then cool. 
  • Cream together butter and sugar and add the other ingredients. Mix thoroughly. 

This is now ready to use as a spread when serving Paska.

As mentioned above, I made this recipe by reducing it and making 1/3 of it. It is as follows:

Paska ingredients:
  • rounded 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 tsp lemon extract
  • 3/4 tsp yeast
I needed about 3 3/4 cups of extra flour to get the dough to hold together and not be too sticky. Follow directions as above but reduce baking time to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Cheese Spread ingredients:
  • 1 1/3 cup cottage cheese
  • yolks of 4 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp grated lemon rind (or 1/4 tsp lemon oil, may use closer to 1/2 tsp of lemon extract if you don't have lemon oil)
Follow directions as above and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes for flavors to blend well.

*Recipe from Mrs. H. J. Fast in the Mennonite Community Cookbook 1978.

This recipe was shared with the following:
     Simple Lives Thursday #90- A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa


  1. I had long been looking for a recipe for the Paska spread with which my sister used to treat the family. She's now been gone for 5 years & when I was on a search for it again, I found this recipe. You can imagine my joy! Thank you. Will surely try it. the Paska recipe is very much like our mother's too. Good memories!

  2. Everything was going great until I opened my slow cooker this morning to find a burnt mess. I think that the slow cooker was too hot and burned the bottom of the ingredients and cooked the rest. Do you have any suggestions for round #2???

    1. I'm so sorry to hear about the problem you had with the slow-cooker. Unless you have at least 3 settings on the slow-cooker (warm, low, high), the low setting will probably be too high. I would recommend using the slow cooker and keeping the lid open and put a something in the bottom (maybe something wooden) that will elevate the bowl off from the bottom of the slow-cooker. This way the warmth can circulate around it but not become too hot. Before using the slow cooker for this again, I would also try to put a thermometer in it with the lid open only partly and see what the temperature comes to. You don't want it much above 110 degrees F.
      You could also try using a picnic cooler with a heating pad or heated rice bags/corn bags (or insulated cold/hot bags for shopping)and that would keep it warm enough without needing to use your oven. Otherwise, just set your oven to the lowest and test how high the temp is, open the door slightly if necessary, and leave it in overnight. Hope you fare better next time!

  3. Could you explain how to render the yolks of the hard boiled eggs for the cheese spread? Do I just remove the yolks from already hard boiled eggs or are the yolks removed prior to boiling and boiled by themselves?

    1. Just hard boil your eggs like you normally would- in the shells. Then cool, peel and then remove the yolks.


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