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Traditional Easter Bread – Ukrainian Paska Recipe

paskaEaster is one of my favorite holidays, because of its rich traditions.  One of these is the blessing of a basket of special foods which becomes the Easter Sunday brunch, being the first meat meal, after a strict fast on Good Friday and Saturday.  One of the special foods in that basket is a round shaped Easter Bread, called Paska in Ukrainian, or Babka in Polish.  The top of this bread is elaborately decorated with fancy dough ornaments, having a cross as the central motif. Here is my family Paska recipe, which makes two large loaves, or several small ones.


  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 package dry granular yeast (1/4 oz = 7g)
  • 3 cups scalded whole milk, lukewarm
  • 5 cups of flour
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. orange zest
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 6 cups of sifted all purpose flour


    1. Dissolve the sugar in the lukewarm water and sprinkle the yeast over it.
    2. Let it stand for 10 minutes.
    3. Combine the softened yeast with the lukewarm milk and 5 cups of flour.
    4. Beat well until smooth.
    5. Cover and let the batter rise in a warm place until light and bubbly (I place it on a heating pad, and cover it with plastic wrap, then with towels, to keep it warm).
    6. Add the beaten eggs, sugar, melted butter, salt, and orange and lemon zest.
    7. Mix thoroughly.
    8. Stir in enough flour to make dough that is neither too soft nor too stiff.
    9. Knead until the dough no longer sticks to the hand.
    10. Turn the dough on a floured board, or other work surface, and knead until smooth and satiny.
    11. Place in a bowl, cover, and let it rise in a warm place until double in bulk.
    12. Punch down and let it rise again.
    13. Prepare your loaf pans by thoroughly greasing them with shortening.
    14. Divide the dough into 3 parts, if you have large enough pans to make only two loaves, and leave the third part for ornamental decorations.
    15. If you wish to make several small breads, then fill your greased pans 1/3 full with the dough, still leaving some dough for decorations.
    16. To make ornaments, one of them being the cross, you roll out some dough into a rope like shape and form it into an ornamental cross to place in the middle of the top of the bread.

making-a-braid-for-paska-decorating1 ornamental-cross-for-paska2

You can also make other ornamental decorations for your Paska, such as a braids, rosettes, twisted swirls, cones, etc.

swirle-twists-for-paska1 braid-and-cross-on-paska

  1. Now that your loaves are decorated, dip a pastry brush in whole milk, and gently brush the bread tops, and ornaments, to give them a nice golden color once baked.  For a darker shade, you may use a wash made out of one egg beaten with 2 Tbs. of water.
  2. Set the loaves in a warm place, once more, until almost double in bulk.
  3. Do not let the loaves rise longer than necessary, because the ornaments will lose their shape.
  4. Preheat you oven to 400 degrees, and bake the bread for 10 minutes.
  5. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees, and bake for 30 minutes longer, or until done.
  6. For smaller loaves your baking time should be shorter, so you need to use your judgment.
  7. To prevent over browning of the tops, you may cover them with loose pieces of aluminum foil, once the Paska is lightly browned.
  8. Remove the loaves from the pans, and cool completely.
  9. You may wrap cooled loaves in aluminum foil, and plastic bag, and freeze until ready to use, to keep them fresh.
  10. To thaw, keep covered, to prevent from drying out.

Tip: If you like raisins in your bread, you may add 1-2 cups of golden raisins to your dough, and you need to make sure to push them deeper into the dough before baking, or they will burn if sticking out of the bread.

71 thoughts on “Traditional Easter Bread – Ukrainian Paska Recipe”

  1. Suzy says:

    My grandmother made this same bread each year, and my aunts now follow her traditions. Yours look beautiful!
    Happy Easter!!

  2. Suburban Grandma says:

    Happy Easter to you Suzy, and to your family!!
    Making this bread adds such a special touch to our Easter celebration, and my daughter now is also continuing this tradition.

  3. Diana says:

    Happy Easter!! WOW that bread looks great. I love right out of the oven or toaster warm bread! For one Easter a few yrs back I went to a friends house and her mom had made bread where there were holes in the top to lay the Easter Egg in after it was cooked!

  4. Suburban Grandma says:

    Thank you Diana. I hope your Easter was Blessed as well.
    Wow, that sounds like a great idea, to make a bread which can be adorned by Easter Eggs, after it’s baked.

  5. Diana says:

    Hi again! I saw these Easter eggs and thought of you. Arent they beautiful?!

  6. Suburban Grandma says:

    I just checked out the link you provided me with. Thank you.
    Yes, these Polish Easter Eggs are really nice. Have you noticed the difference in design style and color choices, between the Polish and the Ukrainian Eggs? I noticed there was a Star of David Egg as well. Egg decorating is such a wonderful art.

  7. D.marie says:

    Yes she noted that the star of david was for her jewish husband…how cute and thoughtful! It seems as if the Ukrainian Eggs are more detailed and probably take long hours to complete. Both are very beautiful though.

  8. Suburban Grandma says:

    Yes, that was very thoughtful….I am sure he is very proud of her.
    I think all egg decorating requires lots of time and patience, and the more intricate the design the longer it takes to complete it.

  9. D.marie says:

    Hi again!! Thanks so much for the beautiful compliment you left about my Easter cards! I sent one to my future Mother-in-law and she told my fiance that it was so beautiful and thoughtful that she wants to frame it!! AWW!! 🙂

  10. Suburban Grandma says:

    I think you scored a point in your favor, with your mother-in-law, with your Easter cards, and rightfully so. You did a super job indeed!

  11. Tricia says:

    Help! I’m making Paska for the first time, for blessing this Saturday. What kind (size) of loaf pans do you use? Thanks for the recipe. Your designs are beautiful! Christ is risen!

  12. Suburban Grandma says:

    Traditional Ukrainian Paska for blessing should be a round shape, and the sides need to be taller than regular cake pans. I actually found three stackable round pans: 6 3/4” x 3”, 6 1/2” x 2 3/4”, and 5 1/2” x 2 1/2”. If you do not have round pans that are at least that size and height, you can use coffee cans, like those from Folgers or Maxwell House, but you need to line them up with brown paper like the one from paper grocery bags. You will need to cut a rectangle that is slightly longer than the circumference of the can and about 1 inch taller than the can. Also cut out a round circle for the bottom of the can. You will need to grease the can so the paper sticks to it and the paper from the inside so the dough does not stick to it. You can also use metal mixing bowls, which also work out nicely. If you are not using the same size pans, the smaller ones will have to be taken out sooner, of course, than the larger ones. I always cover my paska with foil paper as soon as it turns golden color, then it still brows more as it bakes.

  13. allan j s says:

    i love cooking and i think i’m quite good at it , so i’d like to offer a suggestion. i’ve tried it and it works excellent, get a good quality ceramic flower pot , use a touch of olive oil and bake your paska. it works well plus it gives you the beautiful shape you want…..

  14. Suburban Grandma says:

    Thank you so much for the wonderful suggestion on using a ceramic flower pot as a vessel for baking a paska. I read about clay pots for cooking and baking, so it does make sense. I actually will have to try this one, to test the length of time it takes for the paska to bake, if there is any difference between this pot and regular metal pot.

  15. Evelyn Jepson says:

    Since Open Window Bakery closed in Ontario, Canada, our source of Paska went with it. Future Bakery makes one, but it tastes funny. So we don’t buy it at all.
    Am looking to get a recipe for Paska, to make a few for our consumption.

  16. Suburban Grandma says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your bakery closing down. But, this might give you a chance to try making your own Paska. The only hard thing about it is that it takes so much time, due to the slow process of the dough rising twice. This Paska recipe is very suitable for Easter Sunday brunch, since it is not that sweet, so really tasty with the meats.
    Please let me know how it turns out for you. I’m sure it will be a big success.

  17. Treadmill Traci says:

    Thanks for the post! My grandma used to make these and i had to search forever to find the right recipe! Thanks again:)

  18. Suburban Grandma says:

    Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.
    I hope you will like this recipe. It is mine, and my family’s favorite. Not too sweet and fairly simple. You can also form it into loafs, like Raisin Bread.

  19. Lisa Chimiak says:

    How do you get the bread to rise so high in the center as in the picture? They’re beautiful.

  20. Suburban Grandma says:

    Making Paska is a long process due to the double rising of the dough before filling the pans, and then letting it rise again in the pans until it doubles or sometimes even higher. Once you place the pans in the oven, the dough rises even more…the wonderful power of yeast. I also use double acting yeast, most of the time, as it helps with quicker rising. Since the braided wreath is weighing the paska down around the edges, the middle still continue to rise.

  21. Tina Parrish says:

    Thank you for the recipe it is very close to one I lost that came from my Ukrainian Grandmother. Do you know what the braid around the bread stands for I seem to have forgotten. Thanks.

  22. Suburban Grandma says:

    Thank you for visiting and leaving comments.
    I am sure there are many different interpretations of the various ornaments on paska, but I have been told that paska represents the Living Bread – Jesus Christ, the cross placed in the middle of the bread represents the cross Jesus dies on for our salvation, and the braid around the paska represents the thorn crown Jesus had placed on his head before his crucifixion. If anyone is aware of different interpretations, I would be very interested in hearing about them. Thank you.

  23. Lisa Chimiak says:

    Your paskas above are gorgeous! My mom used to make them and now that she’s gone I do. They’re good, but I still miss my mom’s. My family and I love when they come out denser (heavier & chewier) because then they hold up well to spreading with butter, but mine always seem to come out too airy and they crumble. I’ve tried more eggs, less eggs (like they say if you want chewier brownies to add less eggs / cakelike, more eggs) and even some eggs + some egg yolks, but I can never quite get them to come out as the chewier version. Any suggestions?

  24. Lisa Chimiak says:

    Also, I forgot to ask… why do you use dry yeast as opposed to cake yeast? I’ve never used dry.

  25. tina says:

    where did you find the porcelain/enamel straight sided “bowls” you list as your favorite?? i am wanting to bake this bread.


  26. Suburban Grandma says:

    Since I do not know your recipe I am not able to give you exact suggestions. The paska recipe I posted is not very airy, and the butter (at room temperature) spreads very nicely. Sometimes I use half of the butter and the other half I use oil. Oil will keep it more together, rather than all butter. Maybe your recipe is more for a babka, rather than paska, so it tends to be more airy. Try my recipe and see if you like it better. Happy Easter!

  27. Suburban Grandma says:

    I actually never use fresh yeast, since all my recipes call for dry yeast. Lately I have been using double acting dry yeast, so the dough rises faster, and it works well fo me.

  28. Suburban Grandma says:

    I found these in a small kitchen specialty store, a long time ago, but I have been looking for more, and can’t find any either. Did you know you can use coffee cans lined with heavy packing paper, well greased, and extending about 1-2 inches over the top of the can. I used to use those before I found these containers. If you find any other ones resembling these, I will post about it, but so far I had no luck.

  29. Tony says:

    This is the best paska I have ever made. I especially liked the ideas for decorating the top. Everyone should try the bread.

  30. Natalie says:

    I love your recipes!

    How many teaspoons or tablespoons of yeast are needed? I only know my yeast comes in 7g sachets, is it one 7g sachet?

    Many Thanks

  31. Suburban Grandma says:

    Congratulations!!! I am so glad your paska came out nicely, and you are enjoying it. Thank you for leaving a lovely comment. Happy Easter!

  32. Suburban Grandma says:

    Very good question, thank you.
    The yeast packet I am using is 7g.
    Happy baking!
    Happy Easter!

  33. Natalie says:

    Thanks so much for getting back to me, I have cooked your paska and taking it to the Ukrainain church for blessing tomorrow, so yummy it really reminded me of the paska my nan who came from Ukraine used to cook for us, she is sadly missed by us all and we sadly never wrote down her recipe, its fabo your recipe is a really lovely and reminds me of her.

    Happy Easter & Krystos Voskres!

  34. Suburban Grandma says:

    Oh, I am so proud of you, and I bet your family will love your paska. We will be blessing our paska tomorrow as well.
    Khrystos Voskres – Voistynu Voskres! – to you and your family.

  35. Rebounding Master says:

    This bread looks amazing!! It looks so delicious it makes my stomach grumble. The finished product is better than any you see in the special bakery’s. I can’t wait to try out this recipe.

  36. Suburban Grandma says:

    Thank you so much for your wonderful comments.
    I’m sure you will love this bread, not to mention the aroma of fresh bread filling up the whole house during baking time.

  37. Kennedy says:

    Not too sure if one can use Terra cotta pots, I did buy some to have little kids make their small individual sized Easter Babka, which is a sweet dough with raisins. In googling this, found that it may not be a safe practice due to unknown substance in the pots, etc etc! Yes, I know I have seen pictures of these pots being used in old cookbooks. I love the shape of the breads once baked in these flowerpots. Martha Stewart’s site suggests that only the pots that she has in her store are safe. Definitely painted pots are unsafe due to possible lead in paint.

  38. Suburban Grandma says:

    I would definitely not use any terra cotta pots treated with anything, but rather in their natural state. I know of restaurants that bake their small breads in the type of bakeware, scoop out the middle of the bread, and sever soup in the bread shell, still remaining in the posts. I would advice to buy these pots from a reputable manufacturer, who complies with all the requirements.
    Thank you for your comments.

  39. evary says:

    I tried this recipe today for my son’s class and it turned out really nice. THanks!

  40. calgary dentist says:

    By the way, can anyone tell me how to make the birds easily? I want to give each student a bird to take home – thanks1

  41. evary says:

    I made 2 batches of the birds and they turned out beautiful! The second batch turned out nicer than the first because I added a little water. I`m going to put a bird on each little paska bun so everyone student gets to go home with one. My son and is so excited. Thanks for the great instructions!

  42. Suburban Grandma says:

    That is such a rewarding experience. Thank you for sharing your successful story.

  43. Suburban Grandma says:

    I was just about to reply to your previous comment, since you were searching for recipe for bread birds, which I also posted, but it sounds like you found it yourself, and had a successful completion of the project. Good for you…I am so proud of you.
    Thank you for sharing.

  44. Hotel Surmeli says:

    Искам да се включа по темата съвсем накратко. Според мен всичко въпрос на личен вкус и мнение независимо за какво говорим. Аз лично просто гледам винаги да съм оптимист и това ми помага. Надявам, се и вие споделяте моето мнение :))) Поздрави за хубавата статия! Хубави дни и бъдете винаги усмихнати :))

  45. Suburban Grandma says:

    Thank you so much for your comments.
    Please stop by any time.

  46. Matthias says:

    Great post,”i like” 🙂


  47. Suburban Grandma says:

    Thank you.

  48. Michael says:

    I remember making the paska (and easter eggs) with my grandmother in my youth. Somehow we always seem to consume more raisins then those that made it into the bread. Good memories & excellent recipe. Thank you.

  49. Suburban Grandma says:

    Eating raisins does brings back memories for me as well. We used to fish them out of already sliced paska….leaving behind little holes in the bread. It was lots of fun, for sure.

  50. Suburban Grandma says:

    Thank you very much for stopping by, leaving a comment and linking the Passover Lasagna to your post.
    I just checked out your blog and will visit again, for sure.
    Enjoy your merrymaking time.

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