Author Archives: Ahna

Ukrainian Easter (Paska) Bread

Ukrainian Easter Bread

Ukrainian Easter Bread

This bread is absolutely fantastic and a staple for Easter morning when I was growing up.  I like it because it’s not too sweet. It is an egg dough which is really amazing in texture at the end. There are other versions of this bread but it is too sweet for my liking. I prefer the mildly sweet Easter bread. At our house we slather REAL butter on top of wedged slices of this bread. I also like to slice hard boiled eggs in rounds and place the slices on top of  the bread wedge.  My father spent time in Norway so we inherited the placement of creamed herring on top of the Easter bread as well. I enjoy it both ways.  This is a recipe that my mother has been using for years from a Ukrainian cookbook that she got when she got married.  I think my mother can make this in her sleep, she’s made it so many times. She often gives the second loaf to someone as a gift.  People always rave about this bread and it’s beauty is obvious. The time spent is well worth the wait.

Makes:
This recipe will make 2 large round and decorated bread loaves.

  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 package of yeast (or 2 ¼ tsp of yeast)

Mix in bowl to dissolve yeast and  sugar

  • 3 cups of whole milk (scalded—not hot)

Add scalded milk to yeast mixture

  • 5 cups of bread flour

Add flour, one cup at a time , to above mixture in your kitchenaid with the bread attachment.  Beat/knead until smooth.  It will be a little sticky.

Let rise for 1 hour.  I put in on the top of the oven (or any warm place).

After your dough has risen for 1 hour, add the following mixture (be sure to mix prior to adding to the bread).

  • 6 eggs beaten
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 1 TBSP salt

Add this to the first rising of the dough and knead to smooth and satiny. You will need to add flour periodically as you knead.

Cover the dough (again) until the dough has doubled in size (3-4 hours).

After the 2nd rising, punch dough down and let rise for 1 hour.

Divide dough into 3 parts.  2 parts can be put in two separate greased round pans (my mom uses an angel food cake pan) or you can use a large 7-qt cast iron pot or any other oven-save pot.  The last part of dough is what you use to decorate the top.  My mom makes a braid on the top and then puts little balls of dough around this. It makes for a nice decoration after it’s baked.  Be creative here as there isn’t really any wrong way to make it.

Beat 1 egg with some water and make an egg wash and brush all on top of bread before baking.

After you are done with the braids and decoration. Set the pans in a warm place covered until the bread has doubled in size (1-2 hours).

Bake at 400F for 15 minutes then lower the oven to 350F for 40 minutes more.

This bread can be frozen and thawed out the night before Easter.

Dough rising in pot

Dough rising in pot

Easter bread just out of the oven (still in the pot)

Easter bread just out of the oven (still in the pot)

Ukrainian Easter Bread, Easter morning

Ukrainian Easter Bread, Easter morningEaster Bread sliced with colored eggs

Ultimate Pumpkin Pie

Yummy pie!

Yummy pie!

This is simply my most favorite pumpkin pie recipe. It is like a pumpkin custard, made with eggs, sour cream and heavy cream. I found it on epicurious.com and it has been a staple in our home for years now.  It is smooth, creamy and just plain delicious. The addition of apricot preserves just kicks a simple pumpkin pie recipe up a notch!  It’s surely a winner at your Thanksgiving!

Crust
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled butter, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons whipping cream

Filling
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon packed golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt
1 16-ounce can solid pack pumpkin
3/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup sour cream
3 large eggs, beaten to blend

1/4 cup apricot preserves (Note: this is the secret)

For crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Blend first 3 ingredients in processor until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add cream and process until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball, flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic; chill 15 minutes.

Roll out dough on floured surface to 14-inch round. Transfer dough to 9-inch glass pie dish. Trim overhang to 1 inch. Fold overhang under. Make cut in crust edge at 1/2 inch intervals. Bend alternate edge pieces inward. Freeze 15 minutes.

Line crust with foil, pressing firmly. Bake until sides are set, about 10 minutes. Remove foil. Bake crust until pale brown, about 10 minutes more. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

Spread preserves over crust; pour in filling. Bake until filling puffs at edges and center is almost set, about 55 minutes. Cool on rack. Cover; chill until cold. (Can be made 1 day ahead.)

For filling:
Using whisk, mix first 6 ingredients in bowl until no lumps remain. Blend in pumpkin, whipping cream, sour cream and eggs.

Spread preserves over crust; pour in filling. Bake until filling puffs at edges and center is almost set, about 55 minutes. Cool on rack. Cover; chill until cold. (Can be made 1 day ahead.)

cheesecake right from the oven

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake with Cran-Raspberry Compote

cheesecake right from the oven

just out of the oven

One of my all-time favorite holiday cheesecakes from Bon Appetit.  I’ve been making this for years at Thanksgiving. It’s super delicious and will wow your guests.  I just love the tartness of the cranberries with the cheesecake. Cake can be make a day or two ahead or even frozen. I usually start the cranberry puree 1 days ahead because it has to chill but make sure it’s not too cold as it will sink in your batter. It should be brought up to room temperature before swirling. You need a 10-inch pan for this and another pan to steam the cheesecake in. Steaming makes all cheesecakes in my opinion better.

Yield: Serves 12

Ingredients

For cranberry purée

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries or frozen, thawed
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
For crust

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 3/4 cups finely ground butter biscuit cookies or butter cookies
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For filling

  • 4, 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Topping

Make cranberry purée:
Combine all ingredients except vanilla in heavy large saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly. Transfer to processor. Add vanilla. Puree until smooth. Strain into medium bowl. Cover with plastic. Refrigerate at least 6 hours.
Make crust:
Spray 10-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Wrap outside of pan with 2 layers of heavy-duty foil. Blend cookies, sugar and cinnamon in processor. Add butter; blend until moist clumps form. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and up sides of pan. Chill crust while preparing filling.
Make filling:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in sugar. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla.Transfer 1/3 of filling to prepared crust. Dollop 1/3 of cranberry puree atop filling. Repeat layering of filling and puree 2 more times. Using knife, swirl puree through filling, creating marbled design.

Place springform pan in large roasting pan. Pour enough boiling water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of springform pan. Bake until cheesecake puffs around edges, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Turn off oven. Let cake stand in oven 1 hour, leaving oven door ajar.

Transfer cake to rack. Run knife around pan sides to loosen cake. Cool completely. Remove foil from pan sides. Cover cake and chill overnight. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

Remove pan sides. Serve cake with Cranberry-Raspberry Compote.

cookie crust has a little texture to them

I like to keep a little texture on the crust by keeping some larger cookie bits

10-inch pan is double wrapped in foil and placed in a bigger pan

The crust is in the pan and wrapped with double foil. It is placed in another pan so it can be steamed.

my secret egg trick

My secret to bringing eggs up to room temp fast. Put eggs in glass with warm water and let sit for a bit. Note: Guinness glass not required.

for the cranberry filling

Getting the cranberry puree made. Make sure it's not too thick.

pureed sauce using immersion blender

Sauce is pureed with immersion blender in the pan.

the first slice has been cut

yum!

a slice with the cran-raspberry compote on top

just before the oven