Friday, April 22, 2011

making paska

easter is truly my favorite time of year. i adore christmas dearly, but easter has always meant much more to me. i love that it happens during spring, and i love the spiritual significance of it. the gift of eternal life is an amazingly huge thing to celebrate! so you'd think that i'd be in the "easter spirit" a little more than i am this year. its already good friday and i have yet to pull the easter decorations out of my holiday box in the garage. i have so many great easter books that i've collected for the kids over the years, and they too are lying somewhere in the garage, covered in dust no doubt. i'm not sure if the reason i've been so lazy about easter preparations is because its so darn late this year, or if its because i'm just pregnant and lazy, but on wednesday i kicked myself in the pants and made myself do one "easterly" thing. i made paska.

paska is a traditional mennonite sweet bread made only at easter time. i grew up eating my grandma's paska at our yearly easter family gathering and it was never something that i particularly looked forward to or desired at any other time during the year. it was paska, plain and simple and sweet and very very yummy. since moving to an area where i don't believe i know of one single other mennonite, the lack of paska has never really bothered me much. until this year. it must have something to do with the baby girl inside of me and her insistance that i continue to consume citrusy tasting things, because suddenly i began to crave paska like none other. reading friends' facebook statuses about paska didn't help matters and pretty soon i was consumed with the notion that i just had to have some. and pronto.

i knew that paska only tastes perfectly delicious when it is eaten fresh, so having some shipped down to me from canada was out of the question. i even called josh's sister to see if her mennonite mother in law who lives about 40 minutes away was making it this year, but sadly she doesn't make paska. i only had once choice left.... i decided to bite the bullet and attempt to bake (scary word) a yeast bread (even scarier words) all by myself. i was worried that it wouldn't turn out, but when i read over the recipe on the mennonite girls can cook blog, i realized that i had every ingredient on hand, so if it flopped then i wouldn't really be wasting much.

i believe i started making it at 10:00am and had iced the last of it by 3:00pm. it wasn't a ton of work, just a lot of waiting for dough to rise, then rise again. and again. i was freaking out a little while kneading the flour in because apparently the trickiest part of the recipe is figuring out how much flour to add and i really didn't want to end up with dry paska, but in the end.... it actually turned out okay! i made one traditional loaf, and the rest i put into muffin tins to make little buns. yes, the loaf in the picture below is far from perfect looking, but that's what the icing is for, to cover it all up!

unfortunately, most of my little paska buns got burned on the bottom, so they ended up looking more like this: (the one with icing already on it was devoured within seconds of taking that photo)

but the rest of them turned out nice enough to take to our friends' house for dinner.

and our friends either genuinely thought that they were good, or they were just being nice, but either way i was happy. the big loaf is coming out of the freezer on sunday for josh's family gathering and the burned ones are being slathered with buttercream frosting and eaten far too quickly for my online calorie counter's liking.

~happy easter, everyone!


Melanie said...

They look wonderful!! I too, think yeast is a scary word. ~Melanie~

Lovella ♥ said...

I'm so super proud of you! I know the wee one will appreciate you having a little citrus sweet bread. wow.. .I just smile everytime someone new tackles the Paska.

Happy Easter Dear Heidi!

Anika Lacerte said...

Good for you, making paska! I haven't ever, and was thinking about it this year but my mom offered to make some and send them up for me (someone's driving up, not by mail).

If you do manage to dig out your Easter books, I'd love to know which ones you have. I'd like to collect some for Naomi.

I have Humbug Rabbit (nothing about the real Easter story, but very sweet).

Happy Easter!

christine said...

oh my gosh, didn't know you were bringing the paska loaf over tomorrow, i saw it in the bowl wed (and yes it looked perfect while rising) can't wait to dig in, and enjoy tradition! Thrilled for your kids and Ava for you being brave and jumping in to try and make it ---they will appreciate it when they get older. I'm proud of you too!!!

Grandma J. said...

Yeah, so happy that they turned out so beautiful and delicious. Happy to have you remind the precious grands through food that they are half Mennonite!

Neha said...

These look yummy. Hope you had a nice Easter!

Aria said...

I knew you could do it! It looks so good too!

Anneliese said...

Heidi ... so proud of you too! I was just a young mom when I started making Lovella's paska and the first try is a good learning time ... a good investment for future.... take notes.. because you will forget which pans you used etc. Your loaf looks perfect!

Miranda said...

They look so good! I'm so happy you made them! :) Also, thank you for all the prayers, its helped me so much. I've been feeling a lot better about everything.