Paska or Kulich is a traditional Easter bread that is very popular in Eastern European countries.
Every country has its spin on this classic. Today I will show a traditional Ukrainian recipe my family has made for years, never letting us down.
Paska (Ukrainian Easter Bread)
This year Orthodox Easter is the same day as Catholic Easter. Also, this year, my daughter turns four on Easter. So, as you can imagine, we have quite a busy weekend coming up.
Since I'm Ukrainian, we always celebrate Easter the traditional way. We color eggs, prepare Buzhenina (Roasted Pork Tenderloin), and make Paska Easter Bread. We usually attend church on Sunday to bless our Easter basket, followed by a festive Easter brunch.
My mom was usually responsible for the Easter menu when I lived in Ukraine. I rarely was involved. When I moved to the US and started my own family, I wanted to stick to the traditions and started making my own Easter bread.
Paska is considered a festive Easter bread. Most of the time, it's sweet, glazed with sugar or sugar and an egg white mixture. Many people also add raisins or dried fruits to the bread.
In Western parts of Ukraine, locals love making Paska plain with just a bit of sugar and eating it with kielbasa. My husband prefers it that way.
My family loves Paska on the sweeter side with raisins, sugar glaze, and sprinkles. It's delicious, flavorful, very fluffy, and moist. We often have Paska with tea instead of dessert.
Today, I will show you a step-by-step recipe for this traditional Eastern European Easter bread, so you can make it at home and surprise your family with a new and very delicious Easter treat.
A few words on the equipment. Traditionally, Paska is baked in round and tall molds. Here you have several options. First - you can buy disposable paper molds.
These are also available in stores like Sur La Table. Walmart might have them as well. When we lived in Chicago, we used to buy these several times.
Another option is to buy reusable metal molds. That's what we are using. We bought them on Amazon in two sizes: 4 ¾-Inch and 4 - Inches.
The third option is to look for tall ovenproof metal round ware that you might have around the house.
For our 3rd Paska, we used a stainless steel kitchen utensils storage container. It's quite tall with thick walls. We lined it with parchment paper, and boom; Paska mold was ready to be filled with dough.
Start with making "opara" - yeast mixture. In a medium bowl, combine yeast, sugar, flour, and warm milk. Whisk, cover with plastic wrap, and leave it to rise in a warm place for about 30-40 minutes.
In a large bowl of a food processor, sift flour. Add yeast mixture, salt and whisked egg yolks.
Transfer the bowl to a food processor with an attached dough hook, and knead the dough until small bubbles appear, about 5 minutes.
Then, add melted butter, and lemon zest and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and stretchy about 10 minutes. Remove the bowl from a food processor.
Sprinkle raisins with about ½ tablespoon of flour, stir, and incorporate raisins into a dough. Mix just until combined.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a dry kitchen towel and place it in a warm place. The dough should increase two times in size. It will take approximately 40-50 minutes, depending on the temperature in your kitchen.
Divide the dough between 3 parchment-lined molds and leave it rising until it is almost full. Bake at 360 F for 45 minutes. When Paska's are ready, brush them with a glaze and top with sprinkles.
How To Freeze Paska
Paska freezes exceptionally well and will keep for several months in a freezer.
After you brush Paska with a glaze, let it completely dry out. Then, tightly wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in a freezer.
To thaw, simply unwrap Paska and let it defrost at room temperature or in a microwave.
Let me know in the comments below if you have tried Paska before. What are some of your family's Easter traditions?
- 1 kg (8 cups) all purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 32 grams (3 ½ tablespoons) active dry yeast
- 10 egg yolks
- 200 grams (14 tablespoons ) butter
- 200 grams (1 cup ) sugar
- 100 grams (⅔ c) raisins rinsed, drained and mixed with 1 tablespoon of flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 lemon zested
For sugar glaze
- 6 tablespoons water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
- In a medium bowl combine yeast, sugar, 3 tablespoons of flour and warm milk. Whisk, cover with a plastic wrap and leave it to rise in a warm place for about 30-40 minutes.
- In a large bowl of a food processor, sift flour. Remove 3 tablespoons from it. Add yeast mixture, salt and whisked egg yolks.
- Transfer the bowl to a food processor with an attached dough hook and knead the dough until small bubbles start to appear, about 5 minutes. Then, add melted butter, lemon zest and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and stretchy, about 10 minutes. Remove the bowl from a food processor and stir raisins into a dough. Mix just until combined.
- Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and dry kitchen towel and place it in a warm place. The dough should increase 2 times in size. It will take approximately 40-50 minutes depending on the temperature in your kitchen.
- Divide the dough between 3 parchment lined molds and leave it to rise until molds are full. Bake at 360 F for 45 minutes. When Paska's are ready, carefully remove them from a mold and lay them on their side to cool.
- Brush them with a sugar glaze and top with sprinkles.
For sugar glaze
- In a small bowl, dissolve 1 teaspoon of gelatin with 2 tablespoons of cold water. Leave it for 5 minutes.
- In a small sauce pan, add sugar and the remaining 4 tablespoons of water. Heat on a medium heat until sugar dissolves.
- Off the heat, add gelatin and whisk until gelatin is fully dissolved.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the gelatin and sugar mixture until completely white, about 2-3 minutes.
- Let the glaze cool slightly and using a pastry brush cover the top of Paska with a glaze.
- Top with sprinkles.
- Enjoy on Easter Sunday!
If you make this recipe, don't forget to snap a picture and post it on Instagram with a hashtag #lavenderandmacarons. I'd love to see your creations.
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Everyone is so exhausted during Holy Week, I'm sure we all have disaster stories! One time I did not set my oven rack low enough and my paska/kulich rose up and baked around the heating element in the oven!
Becky, thank you for your comment. I hope you'll give this Paska a try. In family we use this recipe all the time and it never disappoints.
Hi! I going to try your recipe this year for pascha! The one I have used since we converted 7 years ago never turns out right. I’m wondering if the baking times differ based on the size pan you use to bake the bread? Thank you! Becca
Good question. We usually bake our Paskas for about 45 minutes and they all have different sizes. However, if your Paska is very small, I would check on it at about 30-35 minute mark. If it's brown on the sides, then it should be ready. Alternatively, if it's larger, it might need an extra 5 minutes. Here's a weight-based guideline I found on the internet: if Paska weighs less than 1 lb, the baking time will be around 30 minutes, 2 lbs - 45 minutes, more than 2 lbs - 1hr 30 minutes. Also, look at the color of Paska, it should have a beautiful brown color on the sides, not too dark, not to light. Hope this helps!
Thank you for sharing your recipes. I am looking forward to trying them. Would you be able to tell of the difference between Paska and Babka?
I am also wondering of the correct Ukrainian term for the polish pierogi.
My Ukrainian Baba called them “perehe”. We loved making them together along with stuffed cabbage and borsch. Although, the recipes I have don’t involve measurements. 😉
Thank you again for sharing the love!
Dear Gina, I'll be happy to answer your questions:)
Paska is a type of dessert specifically prepared for Easter. Some people also call it "Baba." In fact, Paska recipe that mom loves to make is inspired by a famous Ukrainian pastry chef Daria Zweck who called the dessert "Festive Baba". So Paska and Baba are basically the same thing.
"Babka" on the other hand is a savory potato casserole. That being said, I've seen some sweet Babka recipes, but they're not Easter specific.
In Ukraine Pierogy are called "Varenyki".
I wonder where in Ukraine your grandma lived? People who live in the Western Ukraine which borders with Poland and Hungary are very much influenced by those countries cuisines. So, they may call the recipes just like what people in Poland, Hungary or Romania would call them. And in case with "pierogy" people in the Western Ukraine call them very similar - "pyrogy".
Keep up the great work Lilya, your recipes are amazing, glad to see a post 1950s Soviet Ukrainian migrant whose actually proud to be Ukrainian and describe her recipes as Ukrainian. Alot of Ukrainians that came out in the 80s are highly Russified, don't know their own history and language and describe their own national dish like borsch as Russian. In the 1950s the Ukrainian language was phased out of schools, Ukrainian publications were intentionally lowered and Russian language publications intentionally increased in the Ukrainian SSR, poets and academics were targeted and killed e.g. Ivasyuk, Stus etc. So many Ukrainian writers and patriots were killed in the Soviet Union yet so many Ukrainians are ignorant of it and are still confused. You bring pride to your country and nation by not forgetting them. дякую пані Ліля, ви дивовижні
і ваші рецепти дуже смачні.
julia alona karanfilova says
is it possible to use condensed milk in the recipe? how much would you use and what changes would you make to the recipe? so it doesnt become to sweet or "runny"
Hi Alona! Sorry for the late response! Unfortunately I've never tried making Paska with condensed milk and I'm not sure how it will behave in this recipe. If you give it a go with a condensed milk, please let me know how it turned out.
Cathy Fudala says
These kulich were so easy to bake and texture was beautiful. I was quite pleased until I tasted it and oh dear, I forgot the sugar. They were still good ,but I will be remaking them for Easter with sugar. Haha, won't be my first Holy week baking disaster.
Oh no...lol! Let's just say you had a Western Ukrainian version of Paska:) They love it without sugar and glaze. That's actually how my husband prefers it too.
Well, I hope your second try will be a success. I hope you have a happy Easter!
Jeannette Torossian from Armenia says
Thank you for sharing such a great recipe. I made two satisfying paska.
You're welcome Jeannette:)!
Hi, if milk is not warm will that cause an issue? Thank you,
Hi Ann Marie, if milk is not warm enough, the yeast might not get activated hence there might be a problem with the dough rising. It shouldn't be hot either. Milk should be at 110-115 F.
I would really appreciate a conversion of the ingredients to cups and tablespoons. For example, how much is 32 grams of yeast?
Hi Lily, I updated the recipe to cups and tablespoons. Hope that helps!
Thank you so much!