Friday, March 26, 2010
Happy Easter Bread!
Welcome to the most delicious time of the year. Every Easter Mennonites (and Ukrainians, I think that's where we got it from) make the most wonderful bread in the entire world, a sweet lemon bread called 'paska.' And we may not drink, dance, or have a sense of humour, but we do know how to cook. Really well. Most recipes actually say things like 'make a good bread' like the rest of the world knows what we're talking about. Here's my Nana's recipe. It does assume you know how to make bread, but ask me if you need clarification of anything.
Scald 1 3/4 cup milk, put in freezer so that it's cool enough by the time you're ready to mix it in with the rest of the ingredients that it doesn't kill the yeast.
Mix 2 tbsp yeast with 1/2 cup warm water and 2 tsp sugar.
Once you know the yeast is active add milk and:
3/4 cup oil
1 1/4 cup sugar
Rind of 1-2 lemons (use a microplaner if you have one, they're awesome. Thanks Aunt Ellen!)
5 eggs (take these out before you begin so they have time to warm up a bit)
Mix with approximately 7 cups of white flour to make a very soft dough.
Knead until dough leaves fingers (it'll still be fairly sticky because it's so soft). Let rise until doubled. I don't like when the dough gets kind of hard at the top during this, so I spray it with a bit of cooking spray before loosely covering with wrap and a towel. If you are impatient and want to force it to rise very quickly take a bath towel, dampen it, and put it in the microwave for 5 minutes. Wrap it around the bowl. The hot steam will have the dough ready in 10 minutes. In summer you can put it in a big ice cream tub and set it in a hot window for the same thing. I always but the dough on the vent element for the stove when I preheat the oven.
Punch down. Roll out on floured surface, pressing out the air bubbles. Divide, shape, and place in loaf pans. Let rise. One of my loaf pans had something in it from last year and rusted (!) so I made my last loaf on a pizza stone. It was fantastic.
Bake at 275 F about one hour.
When cool ice with a fairly thick mixture of icing sugar and lemon juice (use the real stuff) and top with sprinkles. Some people use chopped up jelly beans for this.
Normal people peel off the icing and eat it separately. The rest if terrific toasted, and you can try this topping if you want something besides butter.
1 cup dry curd cottage cheese
4 hard-boiled egg yolks (my mom's notes say to use the the whites to make deviled eggs. Mennonites use everything twice and she'd be very upset to find out you'd wasted them)
Push through a fine sieve, then add
1/4 cup whipped cream (NOT whipped)
1/4 cup softened butter
1/4 cup sugar (or to taste, this may be kind of sweet)
rind of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon (may need more to taste, or to get the right consistency)