Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Mennonite Paska #BreadBakers


Peel and blend a whole orange and a whole lemon to create this slightly sweet yeast bread traditionally served for Easter in the Mennonite community. The buttery sugar glaze is not optional. Neither are the sprinkles. 

This month’s Bread Bakers challenge, chosen by our creative host, Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla is to bake a traditional Easter, Passover or springtime bread, perhaps venturing into another culture or country to expand our horizons. I was determined to make homemade matzo because it’s impossible to find here and I thought with a homemade version at my disposal, I could try all the matzo-based recipes I’ve been seeing on the web like chicken soup with matzo balls, Chocolate Peanut Butter Matzo S’mores, Northern Fried Chicken and Chocolate Toffee Matzo, just to name a few. But the more I researched what it would take to make matzo at home, the more I realized that my sad, sad oven which can barely be coaxed up to 425°F or 218°C on a good day, was just not up to the task. So I started scouring the internet for something new, something different, something tasty.

According to Lovella, one of the authors of Mennonite Girls Can Cook and the sharer of this paska bread, she inherited the recipe from her husband’s grandmother and it’s one of the most viewed pages on their site. I was intrigued by the whole orange and lemon that are pureed then added to the dough. Lovella also declares, and I can confirm, leftovers make fabulous French toast or eggy bread.

Adapted from Lovella’s Paska Bread – I baked two in bread pans and one in a Nordic Ware 12-cup Anniversary Bundt pan but this could easily be stretched to fill four pans. Lovella made five to seven so they must have been smaller!

Ingredients
For the bread:
2 packets active dry yeast (1/4 oz or 7g each)
1 cup or 240ml warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 medium lemon
1 medium orange
1 1/4 cup or 295ml milk
1/2 cup or 115g butter, plus extra for buttering the mixing bowl before the first rise and the baking pans
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup or 150g sugar
About 7-8 cups or 875g-1kg flour, with a little extra for kneading

For the glaze:
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Good pinch salt
2-3 tablespoons milk
2 cups or 250g icing sugar

For decorating: colored sprinkles

Method
In the bowl of your stand mixer, put your yeast, the tablespoon of sugar and warm water and allow your yeast to proof. After 10 minutes, if you have a bunch of foam in the bowl, proceed. If not, throw it all out and start over with new yeast.

Meanwhile, zest your lemon and orange with a microplane or fine grater into the vessel of your blender.

Use a sharp knife to cut all the white pith and peel off of the citrus and then cut off and discard any hard membranes between the pegs. Remove any seeds and discard. Add the orange and lemon to the zest in the blender.



Put your milk and butter in a microwaveable measuring cup and heat them in the microwave on a low setting until the butter is just melted. Add them to the blender and blend for two to three minutes.

Add in the eggs, the rest of the sugar and the salt. Blend again for a minute or two.

Pour the mixture into the bowl of your stand mixer (where the yeast has been hanging out and, if all is going to plan, foaming) and mix well.



Start adding the flour, a cup at a time, mixing very thoroughly in between, until you have a nice soft dough. You may not need all the flour.



You can use the dough hook to knead the dough but it should be quite sticky still so I found it easier to take it out and knead it for several minutes on a lightly floured countertop.

Before kneading


After kneading
Wash out your large bowl and rub the insides with butter. I keep empty butter wrappers folded up in my freezer door for this purpose. One use only, but they work beautifully. Go ahead and prepare your baking pans in the same manner.

Return the kneaded dough to the buttered bowl and cover the bowl with a loose tea towel. Leave it in a warm place for about hour.

Before then after the rising. This dough soars.


When the dough has risen, divide it into three or four even pieces.



Press them out gently and fold them over in thirds lengthwise. Put them buttered pans, seam side down, and sprinkle on a little more flour.

Cover the pans loosely with tea cloths and put them back in the warm place for about 45 minutes. About 15 minutes before the second rising time is up, preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.

When the oven is preheated, carefully remove the tea cloths and place the loaves in the oven to bake.

As you can see, I could probably have made one more loaf.




Bake uncovered for 35-45 minutes or until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 200°F or about 134°C or the bottoms sound hollow when tapped.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool briefly in the pan. Turn the loaves out onto wire racks to cool completely.


Meanwhile, make your glaze by whisking the butter, lemon juice and salt with one teaspoon of milk. Add in the sugar and stir well. Add additional milk a little at a time until you reach your desired pouring consistency.

When the loaves are completely cool, pour over the glaze and quickly decorate with colored sprinkles while the glaze is still sticky. It will harden after pouring, making the loaves easier to wrap and carry.


Enjoy!





Do you have a traditional Easter, Passover or springtime bread you make each year? Perhaps you’ll find a new favorite in this great list from my fellow Bread Bakers:





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#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the BreadBakers home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. This month Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla has chosen breads from around the world that are traditional for Easter, Passover, or Springtime. Thank you for hosting, Camilla!

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.

Sliced up and ready to become French toast



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