Ukrainian Easter Paska

Ukrainian Easter Paska Recipe

The Spruce / Loren Runion

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 55 mins
Rise Time: 90 mins
Total: 2 hrs 45 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Yield: 1 loaf
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
403 Calories
8g Fat
70g Carbs
11g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 403
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 4g 21%
Cholesterol 78mg 26%
Sodium 305mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 70g 25%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 11g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 60mg 5%
Iron 4mg 22%
Potassium 157mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Ukrainian Easter bread or paska (which means Easter) is a slightly sweet egg bread that can be decorated with religious symbols. It's traditionally taken to church on Easter morning in a special basket with other foods to be blessed. Slovaks also serve paska at Easter, but this is not to be confused with the molded Easter cheese dessert of the same name.

Ukrainians also feature another type of sweet bread known as babka for Easter, but instead of the fluted shape favored by the Poles, theirs looks more like a Russian kulich, which is tall and cylindrical in shape.

Ingredients

For the Dough:

  • 1 1/2 cups milk

  • 1/2 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/2 cup water, lukewarm

  • 1 (0.25-ounce) package active dry yeast

  • 7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt

For the Egg Wash:

  • 1 large egg, at room temperature

  • 2 tablespoons water

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ukrainian Easter Paska Recipe ingredients

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  2. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, scald the milk and set aside to cool until lukewarm.

    scaled milk in a pot

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  3. In a large bowl, dissolve 1/2 teaspoon sugar in the water and sprinkle the yeast over it. Mix and let stand for 10 minutes.

    yeast in sugar water in a small bowl

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  4. Add the lukewarm scalded milk and 2 1/2 cups of flour to the yeast mixture. Beat until smooth. Cover and let rise until light and bubbly.

    milk, flour, and yeast mixture in a bowl

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  5. Add eggs, the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, melted butter, salt, and 4 1/2 to 5 cups of the remaining flour to make a dough that is not too stiff and not too slack.

    eggs and the remaining ingredients added to the dough in the bowl

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  6. Knead until dough no longer sticks to the hand and is smooth and satiny (about 7 minutes in a stand mixer, longer by hand).

    dough ball in a bowl

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  7. Place dough in a greased bowl, turn to grease both sides, cover with greased plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled.

    dough covered in plastic wrap in a bowl

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  8. Punch down, cover, and let rise again.

    punch dough to deflate, in a bowl

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  9. Reserve a third of the dough for decorating. Shape the rest into a round loaf and place in a 10- to 12-inch greased round pan.

    dough in a greased round pan

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  10. Shape the reserved dough into decorations of choice—a cross, swirls, rosettes, braiding, etc.—and arrange on top of the dough. 

    dough in a round pan, decoration

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  11. Cover the pan with greased plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled.

  12. Heat oven to 400 F. Brush bread with 1 large egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water.

    raw Ukrainian Easter Paska in a pan, egg wash

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  13. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 F and bake an additional 40 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 190 F. If necessary, cover the top of the bread with aluminum foil to prevent over-browning.

  14. Remove from the oven and turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

    baked Ukrainian Easter Paska on a cooling rack

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

Recipe Variation

  • Some cooks make a stiffer, non-yeast, sculpting dough for the decorations so the shapes won't distort when baked. You can use the one as described in this Serbian cesnica recipe.

Where Is Paska From?

Paska is primarily from Ukraine, but the traditional Easter bread is eaten throughout Eastern Europe and in countries with Eastern Orthodox populations.

What Is the Difference Between Babka and Paska Bread?

Both babka and paska are traditional Eastern European breads served at Easter. While they are both yeasted, sweet, enriched breads, babka tends to be wide and round with dough shaped on top to form religious symbols or decorative shapes. Ukrainian paska is a tall cylinder that sometimes contains raisins and/or citrus zest, and can have icing on top. Polish paska has a fluted shape.