Paska – Ukrainian Easter Bread

Like the Pampushka, this Easter bread is an adaption of a yeasted recipe from Olia Hercules “Mamushka”. The main problem converting it to natural leavening is where to locate the starter? It already comes with a potato starter but this isn’t really fermenting after standing for 12 hours. Do you add a wheat starter when you make the potato mix or create a separate one for the dough mix as in normal bread making?

As I didn’t know what would happen if the wheat starter was combined with the potato starter I took the second option. But even this is not straightforward because there’s so little liquid available and what there is, is milk.

Hey, ho – made a wheat starter substituting milk for water, wondering what effect it would have.

12 hours in advance I boiled the potatoes until soft, reserving the cooking water. Mashed the potatoes with 79 grams of the reserved water and mixed in 39 grams of flour.

Next day, whisked the egg yolks and sugar and then hand mixed the dough in the usual way. (The gas bubbles in the wheat starter were much smaller than if I had used water but it didn’t stop it from working as you will see.)

Bulk ferment 4 hours.

Shaped the dough and dropped into a well-buttered 160mm cake tin.

3½ hours prove. Quite a good rise. Splashed on the egg wash.

Into the Pico at 250C top, 220C bottom with steam intending to turn down the heat after 15 minutes, Just as well I checked after 10 minutes because the rise was spectacular and the top was so close to the top element it was starting to burn.

Applied First Aid in the form of a liberal coating of factor 30 egg wash lotion, covered the top with a piece of kitchen foil and returned it to the oven reduced to 200C top and bottom for a total of 45 minutes.

I gotta say I was pretty open-mouthed by the rise.

Removed from the tin when totally cool. Made a glaze of 88g icing sugar, 1 tablespoon water, 1 teaspoon vanilla essence and drizzled it over the top.

Sue magicked up a couple of chicks from somewhere for the photo-shoot.

Knock-out breakfast.

Roll on Easter.