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Posted by hanya on May 06, 2000 at 09:35:48:

In a previous post, Lubow wrote:
Actually the korovai and paska dough are almost identical. The decorations on the korovai are similar plus some additional ones- like a braid, a chain, volutes (letter S curls) a lot of birds and fertility symbols. If you are doing the korovai just for show then in baking it you don't have to put as many egg yolks and sugar as in the paska. If you will cut it up ans serve then take a good paska recipe. A korovai can have a tree of life inserted into it in the center - if the tree of life is a baked one. But that is another long story. lubow

UKRAINIAN EASTER BREAD: -- see slight modifications for korovai indicated above
(as shown on Martha Stewart APRIL 17, 2000)

Long before you even get to the slightly sweet, faintly citrus flavor of paska, or Ukrainian Easter bread, you’re hit with its visual appeal. Paska rises high out of its pan in a deep golden puff, capped with elaborate twists and curls. It’s almost hard to imagine cutting into it, but it’s been an edible staple of the Ukrainian Easter celebration for centuries.

Of course, paska is not just a bread: The sculpted-dough designs adorning the top carry symbolic meanings (see list below), many of which originated during the spread of Christianity in A.D. 988, as well as some that can be traced back to native Ukrainian pagan religions. Ukrainian peasants felt strong connections to the land and the grains that grew there, and rituals, charms, songs, gestures, and movements grew around the act of baking paska. In fact, baking it was one of the most serious undertakings of the year. According to legend, you could predict the future from the outcome of the bread—a full, nicely shaped loaf indicated a good year to come.

Paska can be enjoyed on its own or put to use in a uniquely flavorful sandwich. Try it plain or toasted with butter, or spread it thickly with Ukrainian Mayonnaise (see the recipe below), and layer it with liverwurst.

The following list includes some of the symbols used on a traditional paska:
Triangle: the Trinity
Fish: Christ, the fisherman
Sun: life, growth, and good fortune
Flowers: love, charity, and goodwill
Wheat: good health and wishes for a good harvest
Evergreens: health and eternal youth
Cross: the death and the resurrection of Christ
Eight-pointed star: the sun god
Birds: fertility and wish-fulfillment
Dots: stars in the heavens
Deer, horses, and rams: prosperity
Waves and ribbons circling an egg: eternity
Pussy willows: Palm Sunday
Pine branches and trees: youth and health
Acorns: fertility

Makes two 9-inch round loaves

2 envelopes (4 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
12 cups plus 1 tablespoon sifted all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups milk, warm (100° to 110°)
3 large eggs, plus 8 large yolks, plus 3 large eggs separated, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
3 tablespoons rum or brandy
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pans
1/2 cup vegetable or sunflower oil

1. In a medium bowl combine yeast, 1 tablespoon flour, sugar, and 2 to 3 tablespoons warm water (100° to 110°). Mix until smooth. Set bowl aside until mixture is bubbly, 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Add 4 cups flour and milk to yeast mixture. With a wooden spoon, mix until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until double in size, about 30 minutes.

3. In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat 3 eggs, 8 egg yolks, and sugar until light and pale yellow, about 5 minutes. Add the mixture from steps 1 and 2. Add salt, vanilla extract, lemon zest, orange zest, rum or brandy, melted butter, and vegetable oil. Whisk on medium speed until combined.

4. Remove whisk attachment from machine, and fit with the dough hook attachment. With mixer on medium-low speed, gradually add enough of the remaining 8 cups flour until dough comes away from side of bowl.

Transfer dough to a clean work surface. Knead dough, adding any remaining flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes.

Transfer dough to a large bowl, and cover with a cloth or plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot away from drafts, and let it rise until double in size, 1 to 2 hours.

5. Place rack in lower two-thirds of oven, and heat to 350°. Butter two 9-inch saucepans. Cut a piece of waxed paper about 2 inches longer than the circumference of the saucepan. Fold this in half lengthwise to make a double thickness. Place inside the saucepan, patting it to adhere to the butter. The collar should extend 3 to 4 inches above the rim of the saucepan. Seal the 2-inch flap with more butter.

6. When dough has doubled in bulk, punch down, and set aside one-third of dough in a medium bowl covered with plastic wrap for decorations. Divide remaining two-thirds dough evenly between saucepans. Place bowl and saucepans of dough in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes.

7. On a clean work surface, shape reserved dough into desired motifs—solar, crosses, rosettes, birds, braids, scrolls, etc. Keep any dough that is not being used covered with plastic to prevent it from drying out. Brush surface of risen dough in saucepans with 3 lightly beaten egg whites. Attach decorative dough ornaments, using a toothpick if necessary to secure to loaves. Keep in a warm place to rise until it reaches almost the top of pans, 20 to 30 minutes.

8. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining 3 egg yolks and 1 tablespoon water. Brush egg mixture on surface of loaves. Bake for 10 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 325°, and bake for an additional 50 minutes. Cool paska in pans for 30 minutes. When paska has cooled but is still warm, gently remove from pans, and transfer to a rack to cool.


Lubow K. Wolynetz
The Ukrainian Museum
203 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10003

Ukrainian Museum and Library of Stamford
161 Glenbrook Road
Stamford, CT 06902

PS - for ideas on decorative tops that go with Easter Paska, visit the Easter page, and for the Korovai see the image at Wedding FAQ. We hope to obtain more images of Korovai's in the near future.

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