After a long break from baking due to no oven, I was going to make some Hot Cross Buns, but then I stumbled across a recipe for Ukrainian Paska (Easter) bread, and it seemed a good moment to make this. I’m not at all familiar with Ukrainian cuisine, but it’s easy to see this is a typical enriched, brioche-style bread flavoured with citrus. This is a relatively plain one — apparently it’s common to include raisins, making it similar to a panettone (let’s not go there — I still haven’t succeeded with that).
I made a few changes. The quantity of dough in the original recipe is massive, so I halved it — apparently I don’t have as many friends as Marie does 🙂 The quantity below filled a standard loaf tin plus a tall 15-cm springform tin I bought to make panettone (still unused for that purpose!). I converted the cups to metric measurements. I added saffron because it didn’t seem right to do an Easter bread without that. I reduced the sugar because I’ve never encountered an American cake or sweet bread recipe that wasn’t far too sweet for me. And I had to adjust the amount of flour as I was using French T45 patisserie flour which I expect absorbs less liquid than US all-purpose does — the specified quantity gave me a very sloppy dough.
The end result looks great, and the crumb is very light. I was expecting the flavour to be a bit more punchy though — I couldn’t really taste the saffron, although it did make a nice golden crumb. If I make it again I’ll add more citrus zest and also some diced candied orange and lemon peel.
The bread keeps quite well in a plastic bag to keep it from drying out, and it also freezes well. I can confirm it makes good toast, and it will also be excellent as pain perdu or bread and butter pudding.
And finally, allow plenty of time for making and proving. Best to use a stand mixer, but of course you can do it by hand. It really needs to prove in a warm place, standard room temperature won’t do — I used the dough proof setting on my microwave and it worked brilliantly.