Easter is here once again. And once again, it's my favourite time of year. Not only is this holiday the most pinnacle celebration of my faith and so meaningful for me, it also means that I get to partake in a cultural tradition...Paska! I come from Mennonite tradition and I think that every Mennonite family had their own recipe for this traditional Easter bread. But I also know that it's not just a Menno tradition, so I'm sure there's a huge variety of recipes out there. I have my personal preference, though. And this recipe is my preference- sweet and moist with a hint of lemon zest and cream cheese icing on top. Perfect. (And it wouldn't me Mennonite Paska without the colourful sprinkles!). Technically, I think Paska is a dessert bread, but it only comes once a year and needs to be thoroughly enjoyed at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Because if you truly want to be Mennonite, you will enjoy a little bit of dessert after every meal. Oh and a big thank you to my dear mama for passing this particular recipe down to me.
Paska (Easter Bread)
1 cup milk
3 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon/orange zest
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups icing sugar
1. Bring milk, butter and sugar to a warm (not hot) temperature. Add beaten eggs to the warm mixture. Whisk in the lemon zest, salt and lemon juice.
2. Stir together flour and yeast. Gradually add the warm milk mixture to the dry ingredients. Knead with hands or kitchenaid mixer for about 6-7 minutes until elastic and soft.
3. Let the dough rise in a large greased bowl in a warm place, free from drafts for about 1 1/2- 2 hours.
4. Form into buns or two braided loafs (if unsure of how to do this, youtube is a great help!). Place on greased pans and let rise until doubled again (may take 1 1/2 hours).
5. Bake at 300 degrees fahrenheit for about 20-25 min for buns, 40 min for bread or until golden. Watch closely- the high sugar content in the bread means it may burn quickly.
6. Beat together frosting ingredients and frost bread once cool. Enjoy!