Gluten Free Paska (Easter Bread)

paska slice

Paska, or Easter Bread, is a serious staple in my family around this time of year!  Particularly on the Mennonite side of my family.  If you don’t have Eastern European roots and aren’t familiar with it, paska is a delicious slightly sweet, rich bread made with eggs and is delicately flavoured with citrus peel and some lemon and/or orange juice.  At least that’s how my family makes it.

Also in the style of Eastern Europeans, my family paska recipe makes enough for about 20 (if not more) loaves of bread.  I’m serious.  It’s an all day affair of kneading (by hand!) and waiting for the dough to rise.  My recipe?  I made enough for one loaf of bread.  And it only took me about 30 minutes of prep time.  I was happy with that.

Paska can also have raisins or candied fruit added to it.  My family calls paska with raisins hot cross buns…but my husband’s family, Ukrainian background, insists that it should have raisins.  So I’ll leave that important decision up to you!

Paska is always eaten on Easter morning and usually served as a dessert as well with Easter dinner.  In my family it’s usually smothered in a simple white icing sugar glaze with sprinkles and served with a sweet cottage cheese, egg, whipped cream spread called glums.  Believe me, glums is delicious but definitely a “once-a-year-kind-of-food”.  If you are interested here is the recipe.  Paska also tastes amazing slightly warmed with butter melted over it….mmmmh.

Enjoy the recipe and the wonderful smell that fills your house while you are baking this special bread!  Happy Easter to you!

This recipe adapted from Mennonite Girls Can Cook recipe and my family recipe.

This recipe makes enough dough for 2  small loaves of bread in a standard bread pan or 8 mini loaves.  It can easily be doubled or tripled to suite your needs.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp unflavoured gelatin
  • 1 1/2 tbsp regular/traditional yeast
  • 3/4 cup milk or milk substitute if needed
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 – 1 whole lemon – juice and zest (depending on how citrus-y you like it, I use the whole fruit for zest)
  • 1/2 – 1 whole orange – juice and zest (same as above)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum* if your flour mix doesn’t include it
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups gluten free flour mix (such as my Essential Mix) or (Better than Cup 4 Cup)

paska doughDirections:

  1. Mix sugar, gelatin and yeast in a medium sized bowl.  Heat milk in the microwave for about 1 minute or until just barely steaming but not too hot. Whisk into yeast mixture and let proof (bubble up) until about doubled in size.
  2. Beat eggs, sugar, vanilla, butter, lemon and orange juice and zest in a medium sized bowl.  Add into mixer if you have one.
  3. Add proofed yeast.
  4. Blend together all the dry ingredients until well combined.
  5. Add dry ingredients all at once to liquid ingredients in the mixer and beat on high for a couple of minutes.  The gluten free bread dough should look like cake batter and not typical bread dough, as seen in the picture above.
  6. Spoon into desired well greased pans or tins (smooth tops with wet fingers) and let rise in warm place for about 60 minutes until doubled in bulk.  I used mini bread loaf pans but muffin tins or bread loaf pans would work fine.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until lightly browned on top.
  8. Let sit in pan for a few minutes before removing to cool on rack.
  9. Let cool completely and then ice with white icing and decorate with sprinkles – coloured or chocolate if desired.
*If you are not eating it the same day, freeze until needed. Thaw on the counter at room temperature before eating.

paska

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