A Glorious Day…

…culminating a wonderful weekend. Easter is my favorite day to celebrate. We had an overload of good things and this post will be full of photos!

On Friday I prepared our traditional sweet cheese spread to enjoy on our Easter bread. With the heavy rock in place to force the excess liquid out of the cheese mold it rests in the refrigerator for our Sunday celebration.

On our way to our Good Friday service on Friday evening we spotted this group of people who were following men bearing a cross. It was such an unexpected thing to see and we were inspired by this act of identifying with Christ.

On Saturday a crew arrived at the house to help with the Kulich, Russian Easter Bread. Katie arrived a little later to help, too, mostly with the Shrink Wrapped Easter eggs.

The dough was ready to go in the cans rise for the final time.

Into the oven they go.

Time to set the table while the bread cools.

I bought crosses made out of nails for each person to take home with them.

On Sunday after a great church service I added the last touches to the table while the lamb shoulder was slow cooking in the oven.

I’ll share our appetizer recipe later in April on the MGCC blog.

Besides the shrink wrap eggs we tried the rice dyeing method, too.

Lamb shoulder with a caper fresh mint sauce, caramelized potatoes with onions and rosemary, cucumber tomato salad.

For dessert, Russian Easter Bread (Kulich/Paska) with Seernaya Paska (Sweet cheese spread) and strawberries.

Our mom would be proud of our efforts this year. She loves a smooth top and no airy holes when you slice it.

After our filling lunch and dessert we decided to take a walk.

After our walk we enjoyed sitting on the deck in the sunshine!

We truly had a full to overflowing good time!

Now what I haven’t shared yet is that on Saturday my computer crashed. Oh my…that’s scary! Thankfully there was a repair system that we were able to access and everything is now backed up and restored. It took several hours to accomplish this but everything is up and running again.

Hope you had a wonderful Easter weekend!

Nadia’s (Mom’s) Kulich / Paska

 

What many of you call Paska we called Kulich growing up. This is my mom’s Russian Easter Bread Recipe that I quartered because the amount she would make is quite daunting for me. We have cut it in half in years past. Now what you need to know about my mom and recipes is that she ends up tweaking them from year to year so this recipe is for her Kulich from 2001. I have a 2009 and 2012 recipe, too. This one was easier to quarter. Here’s the link to the original. My dear mom passed away from this earth in September of 2013 so I cherish her tweaked recipes.

Ingredients:

2 pkgs rapid rise yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup lukewarm milk
1 teaspoon sugar

4 egg yolks
1 egg
1-1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup half and half
1/2 ounce apricot brandy
1-1/2 teaspoons powdered vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
Zest of half a lemon
About 2-1/2 lbs of flour, sifted (about 7 cups)
Vegetable oil to coat the rising dough

6 to 7 one pound or two pound cans for baking. You can use loaf pans or large muffin tins if you don’t have the cans to bake them in.

Add yeast to the lukewarm water and milk and sugar in a stainless steel bowl. Make sure the liquids are lukewarm. Let this mixture dissolve and sit.

Beat the egg yolks and egg together.
Cream the butter and sugar in the large bowl of a stand-up mixer.
Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture slowly mixing to combine and then beat to incorporate well.
Mix the half and half with the whipping cream and heat until lukewarm, not hot, and slowly incorporate into the creamed mixture.
Mix in the vanilla and brandy.
Add the yeast mixture and the salt and beat with a mixer.
Continue beating and add the lemon zest.
Continue beating and add the sifted flour about a cup at a time.
Once you cannot beat the dough any longer using the mixer, put the dough on a floured surface and start incorporating the remaining flour by kneading the dough.
The dough should be kneaded very well, approximately 10 minutes.
You should knead the dough until you can cut it with a knife and it is smooth without any holes.
Place the dough in a stainless steel bowl. Take some oil and pour a little on the dough and spread it all over the dough. Make sure to turn the dough so it is coated evenly.
Cover with plastic wrap right on the dough and a dish towel on top of that.
Place in a warm place away from drafts to rise. (My sister usually puts it into the oven that has been warmed slightly.

It is now time to prepare the coffee cans (1 lb. and 2 lb. cans are the best) Cut circles the size of the bottom of the cans out of wax paper. You will need four circles per can. Make sure the cans are well greased. Put the 4 circles in the bottom of the cans.

 

Use a empty and clean coffee can like the ones above. If there is a label make sure to take it off. If the can has a lip at the top you’ll need to use a can opener to cut the lip off the can. I hope these pictures will make the process easier to understand.

Cut sheets of wax paper long enough to line the sides of the can and tall enough to be 2″ above the rim of the can. Use Crisco to seal the ends of the paper.

Here’s a can with the bottom and sides lined with the wax paper.

When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and turn it over.
Let it rise a second time until it doubles in size. Punch it down again.
Now the dough is ready to put into the prepared cans.
You will take a portion of dough about 1/3 the size of the can. Knead it and form it into a smooth ball that you can easily drop into the can.

Let the dough rise again inside the can until it is at least double in size.

 

Bake in a 350 degree oven until golden brown on top.(approximately 30 minutes or more depending on your oven.)

Let them cool slightly in the cans. Remove them from the cans and then cool completely standing up. Some people cool them on their sides turning them often to keep their shape. We found this time that they cool just fine and keep their shape standing up so we didn’t bother with that step!

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To go with this bread my mom always makes a wonderful sweet cheese topping that is formed in a mold in different shapes. For my mom’s Sernaya Paska (cheese spread) recipe click here.

2014-03-027

I’ll be trying this Kulich/Paska recipe quartered at the end of this week. I’ll let you know how it goes and how many coffee can shaped loaves it makes. We got seven loaves out of this recipe although we shorted some of the cans.

 

Are you preparing for Easter?

April Note Cards

It’s time for Vee’s Note Card party.

Thank you Vee for hosting this monthly party!

Wild Ginger3Sunset over Lake Washington in Kirkland, Washington.

2014-04-07 Tulips1Rows of spent daffodils in Mount Vernon, Washington during the Tulip Festival.

tulips-easterApple blossoms on our apple tree taken this past Saturday.

2014-03-027Russian sweet cheese spread served with Russian Easter Bread (Kulich/Paska).

Христос Воскрес!

Воистину воскрес!

Wild Ginger4Here we are in the middle of April and we’ll finally be celebrating Easter this coming weekend. I’m looking forward to our Good Friday service and Easter service. After services on Sunday some of our family will be coming over to celebrate an Easter meal here. We are having rack of lamb, rice, asparagus, salad and Italian Easter bread (Colomba) with strawberries for dessert. Our annual Kulich/Paska baking day is not happening this year so I was happy to find a source for the Colomba. It tastes and smells very similar to Kulich/Paska.

How are you celebrating Easter this year?