Saturday, March 26, 2016

Easter Saturday in Ellen's Kitchen

Today in my kitchen we are preparing our Easter Bread. What many of you call Paska we call Kulich. This is my mom’s Russian Easter Bread Recipe that I quartered because the amount she would make is quite daunting for me. We have cut it in half in years past. Now what you need to know about my mom and recipes is that she ends up tweaking them from year to year so this recipe is for her Kulich from 2001. I have a 2009 and 2012 recipe, too. This one was easier to quarter. My dear mom passed away from this earth in September of 2013 so I cherish her tweaked recipes. This always seems to be an all day process in my kitchen and while the dough is rising have some lunch or tea with your baking crew and when the bread is safely cooling go out to dinner and celebrate another year of your success in making Paska/Kulich. My baking crew this year will be my sister and adult kids. Here's some of last year's crew.


2 pkgs rapid rise yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup lukewarm milk
1 teaspoon sugar
4 egg yolks
1 egg
1-1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup half and half
1/2 ounce apricot brandy
1-1/2 teaspoons powdered vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
Zest of half a lemon
About 2-1/2 lbs of flour, sifted (about 7 cups)
Vegetable oil to coat the rising dough
6 to 7 one pound or two pound cans for baking. You can use loaf pans or large muffin tins if you don’t have the cans to bake them in.

Add yeast to the lukewarm water and milk and sugar in a stainless steel bowl. Make sure the liquids are lukewarm. Let this mixture dissolve and sit.
Beat the egg yolks and egg together.
Cream the butter and sugar in the large bowl of a stand-up mixer.
Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture slowly mixing to combine and then beat to incorporate well.
Mix the half and half with the whipping cream and heat until lukewarm, not hot, and slowly incorporate into the creamed mixture.
Mix in the vanilla and brandy.
Add the yeast mixture and the salt and beat with a mixer.
Continue beating and add the lemon zest.
Continue beating and add the sifted flour about a cup at a time.
Once you cannot beat the dough any longer using the mixer, put the dough on a floured surface and start incorporating the remaining flour by kneading the dough.
The dough should be kneaded very well, approximately 10 minutes.
You should knead the dough until you can cut it with a knife and it is smooth without any holes.
Place the dough in a stainless steel bowl. Take some oil and pour a little on the dough and spread it all over the dough. Make sure to turn the dough so it is coated evenly.
Cover with plastic wrap right on the dough and a dish towel on top of that.
Place in a warm place away from drafts to rise. (My sister usually puts it into the oven that has been warmed slightly.

While the dough is rising (this can take an hour or longer) prepare the coffee cans (1 lb. and 2 lb. cans are the best) Cut circles the size of the bottom of the cans out of wax paper. You will need four circles per can. Make sure the cans are well greased. Put the 4 circles in the bottom of the cans.

Use a empty and clean coffee can like the ones above. If there is a label make sure to take it off. If the can has a lip at the top you’ll need to use a can opener to cut the lip off the can. I hope these pictures will make the process easier to understand.
Cut sheets of wax paper long enough to line the sides of the can and tall enough to be 2″ above the rim of the can. Use shortening to seal the ends of the paper.

Here’s a can with the bottom and sides lined with the wax paper.
When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and turn it over.
Let it rise a second time until it doubles in size. Punch it down again.
Now the dough is ready to put into the prepared cans.

You will take a portion of dough about 1/3 the size of the can. Knead it and form it into a smooth ball that you can easily drop into the can.
Let the dough rise again inside the can until it is at least double in size.
Bake in a 350 degree oven until golden brown on top.(approximately 30 minutes or more depending on your oven.)
Let them cool slightly in the cans. Remove them from the cans and then cool completely standing up. Some people cool them on their sides turning them often to keep their shape. We found this time that they cool just fine and keep their shape standing up so we didn’t bother with that step!


We got seven loaves from this recipe, some taller and some shorter.

We like to document the better results we get and hope always to improve our techniques from year to year.

To go with this bread my mom always makes a wonderful sweet cheese topping that is formed in a mold in different shapes, Seernaya paska. Our first cookbook has the recipe in it.


When the bread is ready to serve you can make a simple powdered sugar thin frosting to top the bread with and then add sprinkles!

Are you preparing for Easter?

To see Lovella's famous Paska recipe that brought us together and inspired the Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog click here.


  1. Great tutorial Ellen. I'll be thinking of you and your crew today as you prepare this wonderful Easter treat! Next year I must try baking mine in cans like you do - it's so pretty. Your recipe lets it rise 3X - I think my mom's coffee cake recipe was like that as well.

  2. The bread and all that goes into is amazing! You are sure to have a special day tomorrow for so many reasons! Blessings to you, Ellen!

  3. I will pin this on my Ukrainian Pinterest board and try your recipe next year!