Meals with Memories
My family’s Easter season traditions
Sarah Mock blogs at Savoring the Good (savoringthegood.com) about food, family, Disney, movies, travel and technology. She lives in York County with her high school sweetheart husband, three children and seven chickens.
Paska: A Ukrainian Easter Bread
Makes 1 loaf
One of my favorite memories of Easter is my grandmother making paska, a traditional Easter bread, for us each year. This is a recipe that she used. Well, it is a version of the recipe that she used. My grandmother was a “use 6 cups in the recipe” type of baker. In actuality her “cup” was a mug that was a cup-and-a-half measure. But she never told anyone this minor fact. We had to figure it out on our own. So after years of trial and error, I think I have come close to her recipe.
I will treasure memories of sitting in front of a plate of freshly sliced bread with full access to the butter to slather across the slice.
My grandmother didn’t make it with the traditional red-dyed, hard boiled eggs tucked into the braids, but she did make a nice braid out of the dough. I have opted to go a little more modern, forgo the braiding all together and use loaf or round pans.
It is rich and thick, full of eggs and butter, and makes amazing French toast if you can keep it around for more than a few hours.
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
2 ½ teaspoons granular yeast
3 cups whole milk, scalded and cooled
5 cups all purpose flour
6 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon salt
9-10 additional cups all-purpose flour
1 egg, for brushing over bread
1. Combine the sugar, warm water and yeast and allow to sit for about 10 minutes until the yeast becomes soft and starts to bloom.
2. Combine the yeast mixture with the cooled scalded milk and 5 cups flour. If the milk is too hot (120°F or higher) it starts to kill the yeast. Optimal temperature is about 100°F.
3. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place until light and bubbly. This could take an hour or so.
4. Once you have reached the light and bubbly stage it is time to add the melted butter, 6 beaten eggs, 1 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon salt. Stir to combine.
5. Add enough flour to make the dough come together. It should not be too sticky or too stiff. This could be up to 10 cups of additional flour.
6. Place the dough in a large pot or bowl, cover and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.
7. Punch down and allow to double in size a second time. (I will skip the second rise when I am feeling rushed for time. The bread will still be delicious. Just not as light and airy.)
8. After the first (or second) rise, punch the dough down and work it into a smooth ball. Add additional flour if needed.
9. Divide the dough into rounds, braid it or shape it for small loaf pans. Make sure the dough is tight and well worked before you place it on a pan.
10. Cover and allow the dough to rise one more time! Yes, this is the final rise.
11. Whisk together the egg with about a tablespoon of water to make an egg wash.
12. Brush the egg wash over the dough for a shiny finish when the bread comes out of the oven.
13. Score the dough if you are looking for a bit of decoration.
14. Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes.
15. Lower the temperature in the oven to 350°F (but don’t remove the bread).
16. Cover the bread with foil to prevent over browning.
17. Bake an additional 25 minutes at 350°F.
Deep Dish Caramelized Onion and Bacon Quiche
When I get overrun with eggs from our chickens and need to use them up in a hurry, I make a deep dish quiche. It is full of protein, keeps well in the refrigerator and easily transports to the office if my husband wants to treat his co-workers.
This recipe is for a bacon and caramelized onion quiche, but feel free to add cheese, sautéed veggies, sautéed mushrooms or whatever you like. The choices are endless.
Pie dough (Use your own recipe or try mine. I used about ¾ of my recipe.)
1 cup milk (skim if you are good, heavy cream if you are naughty!)
¼ pound of bacon cooked crisp and crumbled (½ pound if you dare!)
1 onion, sliced thin and sautéed in the bacon drippings till it is golden brown
1. Roll out the pie dough and carefully place it in a springform pan. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect. Press the edges together if you need to. Just be sure the corner is completely covered. Any holes and the egg mixture will leak out and make it difficult to remove from the pan.
2. Beat together the eggs and the milk. Bonus points if you use an immersion blender to blend them together. This gives the quiche a silky texture when baked. Plus it incorporates air into the eggs, and air will give the eggs lift when they bake.
3. Alternate the egg mixture and any filling you would like into the crust lined springform pan.
4. Bake at 400°F for 45 minutes with a pan of water in the oven. The pan of water creates a steam bath so the eggs don’t become rubbery and the surface of your quiche is less likely to crack. You will know the quiche is done baking when it is set in the center.
Practically Perfect Pie Crust
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 ¾ cups shortening
½ cup water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 egg, beaten
1. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
2. Cut the shortening into the flour mixture until the flour is pea-sized clusters.
3. Whisk together the water, vinegar and egg.
4. Slowly add the water mixture to the flour mixture, folding it in.
5. Work with your fingertips and work the wet and dry together to form a ball.
6. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
7. Chill a minimum of 1 hour before rolling out.
Fastnachts 3 Ways
My husband has a bit of Pennsylvania Dutch heritage, and my family came from Germany at the turn of the century, so this recipe rings for our family. Who can say no to a day devoted to making and eating fried dough?
You have heard about it and seen it on tv but never actually made them.Why? You are scared of yeast? It is no big deal. You are scared of frying. Understood but not a big deal. You had no idea how it was done? Put all your fears aside and let’s dive into this one together. It’s a great family project.
2 cups milk
1 cup mashed potatoes (no salt, milk, or butter added) or reconsituted potato flakes as a substitute
½ cup sugar, plus additional ½ teaspoon sugar
1 stick butter, melted
1 packet rapid rise yeast
¼ cup lukewarm water
6 ½ cups flour total (divided, 2 cups plus 4 ½ cups)
1 can (3 pounds) Crisco or similar vegetable shortening for frying
1. Scald the milk. In a large mixing bowl, combine the scalded milk with the mashed potatoes. Add ½ cup sugar plus the butter. Mix with an electric mixer. If the mixture is still warm, cool to about room temperature before proceeding with the next step.
2. Dissolve the yeast and ½ teaspoon sugar in barely warm water. Add to the potato mixture and mix well. Add 2 cups flour and mix again. Cover with a towel and let rise for 25 minutes.
3. Add the beaten egg to the mixture. Add 4½ cups flour, stirring it into the mixture with a large spoon. Turn onto a well-floured board and knead for about 3 to 5 minutes. Add a small amount of extra flour if necessary so the dough can be handled without sticking to your fingers. Grease a large bowl.
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough ¾” thick. You can use a doughnut cutter to cut the dough or cut as typical fastnachts. Cut the dough into 3-4” wide strips, then cut the strips into 3-4” pieces. To allow the center of fastnacht to fry completely, cut a small slit in the center of each piece using a sharp paring knife. Arrange the pieces of dough about 1-½” to 2” apart on large wax paper-lined trays. Cover each tray with a thin towel. Place the trays in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the dough pieces have risen to about double in size.
5. To fry, heat the shortening to 365° F (a high temp thermometer works wonders here).
6. Deep fry until both sides are golden brown, turning one time. *This is an adult-only job.
7. Drain on paper towels. Cool completely before serving. Store in a covered, airtight container.
For the glaze:
2-½ cups confectioners sugar, 4 tablespoons margarine, 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Add enough milk to make a thin glaze, and drizzle the glaze over the slightly warm doughnuts or dip the doughnuts in the glaze.
For powdered doughnuts:
Shake slightly warm doughnuts in a bag with confectioners’ sugar or a combination of confectioners sugar and cinnamon.
Combine 1 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons of cinnamon. Stir till combined and dredge the warm fastnachts in the cinnamon sugar.