Eggless Slovak Paska Bread and Paska Peeps

Slovak Paska is an Eastern European Easter Bread made with eggs, sugar, milk, flour and yeast. It has so much decorative details on the top. For the Baking Eggless Challenge this month, everyone wanted anything other than sweets and so I selected this decorative bread. This is not loaded with sugar. And the technique used in the decorations was quite interesting. There is also peeps made out of paska flour. These are cute bird figurines made with the dough and then baked. So this became this month's challenge. We had to avoid eggs in the original recipe and come up with our own recipe without compromising on the texture of the bread. Here is my experiment with the dough....

I saw the recipe in Eastern European Food website. Pronounced as Pah-Skah, these are made as round loaves or small bird figurines called as peeps. The top is decorated with braids or religious shaped dough and is given egg wash for the shiny finish. As the dough is loaded with butter and eggs, after replacing the eggs with curd, I found that it was very difficult to handle the dough. Every time I add flour and incorporate it into the dough, the dough became very soft and sticky. So I had to add 2 - 2 1/2 cups of extra flour to make it easy for shaping. So if you find it difficult to shape, do not hesitate to add flour.

These are the Paska Peeps. 

And here is the round loaf.

The Dough

I made 2/3 rd of the original recipe and ended with an 8" round loaf and 8 Peeps. I used a spring form pan but if you don't have one, you can bake in a normal round pan. But before placing the dough, make a criss cross extending beyond the top of the pan with two butter paper strips, so that it is easy to lift the loaf out of pan once done. Also line the sides of the pan with butter paper. It makes life easier...

Recipe Source: Eastern European Food
Flour-6-8 cups
Milk-1 1/3 cups
Sugar-1/3 cup + 2 tsp
Salt-1 1/3 tsp
Butter- 1 cup
Instant Yeast-4 1/2 tsp
Warm Water-2/3 cup
Curd-1/2 cup
Baking Soda-1/4 tsp
Milk- For Milk Wash

1. In a sauce pan add butter, milk, 1/3 cup of sugar and salt.
2. Heat until butter melts. remove from stove and bring it to lukewarm temperature.
3. Dissolve yeast, 2 tsp of sugar in warm water and cover and set aside for 5 minutes.
4. Add the milk mixture to the yeast mixture along with curd, baking soda, 2 cups of flour. Mix well.
5. Now add 1/2 cup of flour at a time and incorporate until the dough comes together.
6. Transfer to the counter. Keep on adding flour and kneading it until the dough is soft, elastic and non sticky. Knead for 10 minutes.
7. Place inside an oiled bowl, apply oil on top of dough and cover with cling wrap and allow it to double. It may take 1 hour to 2 hours depending upon the temperature at your place.
8. For the peeps, take 1/4th cup of dough and shape as shown. Arrange on a baking tray.
9. Preheat oven to 175C. You don't have to proove the peeps. Once shaped it can go directly into the oven.
10. Brush the peeps with milk and bake for 15 minutes or until the top is golden.
11. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter immediately.
12. For the loaf, divide the dough into 3 portions.
13. Keep one portion for decorations and combine the other two portions.
14. Line a spring for 8" pan with butter paper and apply butter all over.
15. Place the dough inside and press to level it.
16. Divide the remaining dough into 3 portions. Keep two portions for the braid and single portion for the centre decoration. 
17. Decorate as shown. Cover with a towel and let it rise for 1 hour.
18. Brush with milk and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top is nicely browned.
19. Remove from oven, remove the bread immediately from the pan and cool on wire rack.
20. Slice it up and enjoy!!!!

Mix all the ingredients.

Add flour until every thing comes together.

Transfer to counter, add flour and knead.

When soft, elastic and non sticky, it is time to proove.

When double in size, remove from bowl.

Shaping The Peeps:

My daughter loved these peeps. These are sure to make kids happy. She took it to her school snacks, then again when she returned home, she had them. I should have made more peeps for my daughter.

If the dough is very soft after proofing, then dust with flour before shaping the peeps. Else it will be impossible to get perfect shapes. 

Take 1/4th cup of the dough and roll into a log. Keep one side thicker than the other. The thicker side will form the tail.

Make a knot leaving a longer end for the tail and the end for the face should come above.

Place two cloves for eyes and make some cut marks with knife for feathers.

Arrange them on the tray and give a coating of milk. You don't have to wait for the peeps to double. After shaping, put them in oven immediately.

Bake until golden. When it comes out of oven brush with melted butter to get a shiny finish.

Shaping The Round Loaf

Shaping the round loaf is so much fun. My daughter watched me while I was decorating the loaf and she was so excited. She was asking me so many questions about the decorating. 

You can either use a braid to decorate the bread's circumference or just twist two ropes together to form a twisted pattern. As the dough was ultra soft, I didn't want to go into the painful act of braiding. I just made two ropes and twisted them and placed it along the circumference. 

Line a spring form with butter paper and butter it well. The top of the butter paper should extend beyond the top of the pan. If the dough rises over the top, this helps the dough to stay in shape without over flowing.

Place 2/3 rd of the dough inside the pan and press.

Divide the remaining portion into 2, one 2/3rd and the other 1/3rd.

Divide the 1/3rd into two. Roll each into a short log. Cut as shown.

Roll each end into a thin rope.

Curl them as shown. Make another one like this.

Place them in a criss cross pattern as shown.

Divide the remaining dough into 4 equal portions. Making two lengthy ropes was very tough. So I made 4 ropes. Twisted two together and placed on half the circle's circumference. 

Twist them as shown.

Place it along the edge. Make another twisted rope and place it on the remaining edge.

I secured a small portion for the centre. Roll a rope and cut as shown.

Roll it to form a flower like pattern.

Place it in the centre and cover with a towel.

Once it is double, give a milk wash and bake for 30-40 minutes in a 175C oven.

Remove from oven and brush with butter.

Remove it from the pan immediately.

Serve it along with the peeps.

The texture was fantastic. It was so soft, fluffy and buttery...

Linking this to Yeastspotting..

Print Friendly and PDF

Labels: , , , , , ,