Saturday, March 22, 2008

Paska

You have caught me in a rather domestic moment. Sometimes, when we get older, all we want is the comforts of our childhood, and no comfort is greater than food. Food can instantaneously transport us back to so many places with a mere wisp of an aroma or the tiniest nibble. Well, today the calls from ghosts of the past were strong. Growing up, one of my favorite things about Easter was that Grandma would make Paska, a traditional German Mennonite sweet bread made only at this time of year, although occasionally she would cheat and make it at other times of the year as she knew I liked it so much.

Now the recipe is as old as the hills...my grandmother made this, and her mother before her and so on right down the line, so there's no telling where this all began. That's also quite obvious with the recipe as so much of the cooking / baking we do is simply by feel...the feeling is a bit tough when you've never made the recipe before, but you simply have to trust your senses and run with it. You'll notice that the recipe doesn't mention any quantities for flour...not even a rough estimate. Partially that's because they believed that the quantities changed depending where you were living, the wheat that was grown there, the humidity etc. So just so you know, even though it's not mentioned, there is a lot of flour. Also, this makes quite a lot of loaves (as all those old recipes made large quantities), so be prepared to either freeze some or give some away. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.


Paska

3 C sweet cream
3 C white sugar
10 eggs
2 pkg dry yeast
1 C potato water
1 1/2 C butter
Rind of 2 oranges
Rind of 1 lemon
Lemon juice from half a lemon
1 tsp vanilla
raisins if desired

Prepare yeast and 1 Tbsp sugar in potato water. Scald cream and 1 C of sugar. Cool and add beaten egg yolks then the beaten egg whites, prepared yeast and enough flour to make sponge like. Let rise until light (3/4 of an hour). Add remaining 2 cups of sugar, butter (melted), rind (finely chopped), lemon juice and vanilla and more flour. Keep adding flour and kneading to make a soft dough. Let rise until double in bulk. Grease round tins (traditionally these are cooked in cylindrical cans, like a coffee can...but as you can see, I had none, so baked mine in regular loaf pans). Let rise until double (about 45 minutes). Bake at 275 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. Prepare regular butter icing to spread on top of the bread while still warm.

32 comments:

Cheryl said...

Those look soooo yummy. I can't wait to try them!

Guilty Secret said...

Mmm-mmm they look delicious! I hope you had a lovely Easter :)

I might have to do some baking today too...

Simon Sterwin said...

How delicious. Thanks for sharing this Easter treat, Carla.

And how true it is that particular smells can transport us back to different times and places. I remember visiting my grandparent's house as as a child, forever associated in my mind with the smells of freshly baked cakes, tea brewing in the pot and aromatic pipe tobacco.

scottishwriter said...

As I view your close-up of "Paska" - I left drooling not just of its appeal but also of your wonderful description of childhood memories too.

thailandchani said...

Wow! They definitely look good! Perhaps I'll be able to try making these one day.

Steffi said...

Wow Carla, those looks and sounds really delicious! Thank you for your recipe!
Have still a nice easter day!

Carla said...

Cheryl, Well, I think it's yummy, but they also carry many happy memories for me.

Guilty, I hope you too have a lovely Easter. Enjoy your day.

Carla said...

Simon, Smells are interesting things. They are supposedly associated with memory much closer than any other sense. I recently had a friend tell me about a former boyfriend and how he smelt (all good), and years later traveling and hopping on a bus and all of the sudden smelling that very same smell. She expected to turn around and see him sitting there. But alas, it was not to be.

Carla said...

Peter, Childhood memories are the best. They are so innocent and pure.

Chani, It's really not as tough or complicated as I thought bread would be...but it does take time.

Carla said...

Steffi, Thanks, I hope that you had a wonderful Easter. All the best to you and your family.

scottishwriter said...

If only my cooking skills were as good as 'beans on toast' - I would enjoy making such an appealing recipe.

dawn said...

How yummy looking. I love a sweet bread, oh alright, any bread. I wish it agreed with me more.

JBelle said...

This is awesome and will be a new tradition at Bellemaison on Easter!

Carla said...

Dawn, There isn't a lot that beats fresh bread that's still warm from the oven...but yes, I know, not something we should overindulge in.

JBelle, I do certainly hope you enjoy. We've always loved it here.

rowena said...

These are precisely the type of recipes that I appreciate and treasure...they induce a sensation that feels like you're creating something with 'substance'. Unfortunately in the food blogga world, these are also the types of recipes that'll get my inbox flooded with exasperated inquiries as to How Much of this or that.

I suppose we can't win them all but you certainly did in this most heartwarming of posts!

VE said...

Dang those buns look sexy!!!

Carla said...

Peter, It only takes a little patience and practice. There really are no special skills needed for cooking. Give it a try, I'm sure you would pleasantly surprise yourself.

Carla said...

Rowena, The thing is, the best recipes allow us to make them our own. But I do understand some people's frustration. It certainly doesn't help when you start out thinking you have enough of something only to find you are quite a bit short.

Carla said...

VE, I could give you stories of sexy buns...but I wouldn't want to shock the blog world.

Mone said...

Now I'm shoked, I live in Germany and I've never heard of Paska. Or any sweet bread on easter. How can that be? Where did your Grandparents live? Maybe its an regional thing? I hope I have the time to trie the reciepe, thanks so much for sharing Carla.

Carla said...

Mone, That's so funny. There are certain communities of Germans here and we ALL know of Paska...perhaps not recent immigrants. In any case, my grandmother spoke Platt Deutsch, so it's very likely that this could have a different name elsewhere. When I was in Germany at Christmas time, my friend's mother made bread that tasted very similar to Paska...it's sweet and very yellow in colour from all the eggs in the recipe. Anyways, I hope you like the recipe.

sirdar said...

Oh man...there is nothing like home baked goods. I think I've had Paska before. Maybe my grandmother baked them when she was still alive....but I remember something like your pictures.

JBelle said...

Carla, I am German and I have never heard of it, either. !

Fede said...

In my family we would prepare jam, the fines ever prepared. Only fruit, sugar and water at the most. I am afraid no one is carrying on the tradition now. It is good you do it with your own recipes.
Good night and good luck.

Carla said...

Sirdar, It's quite possible. Yes, I agree, not a lot that can compete with home baked goods.

JBelle, In German Mennonite circles this bread is very well known, but like I said before, this is Platt Deutsch. I am sure that like many food names, the high German word would be quite different.

Carla said...

Fede, Yes, it is effort to carry on tradition...but it is the only way to carry forward a bit of our past. Nothing says you can't come back to the tradition at a later time in your life.

Lisa said...

Yummmy!

Carla said...

Lisa, Thanks for dropping by. Hope to see you around again.

Pink said...

I didn't realise you were Menonite. I'm doukhobor. We owe the Menonites a great deal.


Looks yum!
xx
pinks

Carla said...

Hi Pinks, Yes, on my mother's side. We share some similar backgrounds then...both groups were pacifists. There are lot's of Doukhobors around here. They've got some great food. I might just have to do a post on that at some point.

Pamela said...

at holidays I make some of the same foods that my mom did.

It really is comforting.

Carla said...

Pamela, There are certain times of the year that I really crave those foods. It's nice to be able to have them.