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Recipe Swap: Savour the flavour

Bread-making demo delights visitors in Dauphin

I’ve checked my calendar more than once this spring for when Easter arrives. It’s earlier this year — March 31 — but outside there’s no indication that green grass, daffodils and the other delights of spring will be arriving any time soon.

Nevertheless, preparation of the foods of Easter is underway in homes that observe this season of the Christian year.

Visitors with the recent Direct Farm Marketing Conference in Dauphin were reminded of the important role food plays in celebration and culture when the ladies of the Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League took them in hand to demonstrate how Paska is prepared.

Paska is a special bread traditionally prepared for the Easter basket, and for a delightful half-hour, participants worked alongside women in the lower hall of the Dauphin Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Resurrection after being shown how to decorate their own small versions of the sweet round bread.

The bread-making session wasn’t only a time of fun and fellowship. Offering a guest bread is an ancient tradition in Ukrainian culture, and a reminder of the symbolic and spiritual role of bread, a food that’s long fed our soul as well as our body.

A lot of us seem to have lost our appetite for wheat foods lately, heeding claims of fad diets to go gluten free. These women in Dauphin refreshingly remind us of bread’s long-held place as a venerable staple in diets guided instead by pleasure, culture and tradition.

They served us a delicious Ukrainian supper afterwards, then came by tables offering their cookbooks Traditional and Family Favourites for sale. This is a massive coil-ringed cookbook produced in 2007 for the 90th anniversary of their church — and it contains one of the best collections of traditional recipes I’ve seen in a long time. This is your go-to recipe book if you want to make holubsi (cabbage rolls) or perogies proper. It has an excellent collection of traditional buckwheat pilaf, cabbage roll, pyryshky, pie and kasha recipes, too.

Here are two recipes for a Paska and a Babka selected from it. If you’d like a copy of your own, or are interested in booking a tour group visit to the Historic Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Resurrection, the person you want to talk to is Melisa Stefaniw with Dauphin Tourism. You can reach her at (204) 622-3216 or (877) 566-5669, or go to www.tourismdauphin.ca.

Baba’s Paska

Paska is a round bread elaborately decorated with a braided cross and rosettes symbolizing new life.

  • 1 tbsp. yeast
  • 1 c. lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 c. margarine (melted)
  • 1 tbsp. butter (melted)
  • 1 c. milk (scalded and cooled)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 to 2/3 c. sugar (depending on taste)
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 7 to 8 c. flour

Dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar in lukewarm water and add yeast. Stir and let stand for 10 minutes. To the dissolved yeast add milk, butter, margarine, salt, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Stir to mix. Add 2 cups of flour and stir in. Continue to add flour, stirring in a cup at a time. When dough is difficult to stir, do not add any more flour. Knead dough in bowl to collect all the flour. Turn onto a floured surface. Knead until it is a medium-soft dough about 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place to double. Punch down. Let rise again. Punch down. Shape into Paskas. Add braids and decorations. Makes 2 9-inch loaves.

Golden Babka Bread

Babka is a tall, cylindrical, raisin-studded bread baked in tall, round juice cans. Some use saffron (or turmeric, which is easier to find), to tint it yellow. Yellow is a symbol of richness and eternal life.

  • 1 c. lukewarm water
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. yeast
  • 2 c. scalded milk
  • 1/2 c. margarine
  • 2 c. warm water
  • 10 eggs
  • 1/2 c. oil
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 10 to 12 c. flour (approximately)
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric (for colour)
  • Juice and rind of 1 orange
  • 2 c. raisins (washed and dried)

Dissolve yeast in 1 cup of lukewarm water and 1/4 c. of sugar. Let stand for 10 minutes. Scald milk, add margarine to melt and set to cool. Beat eggs slightly. Add oil, sugar, orange juice, rind and the other two cups of water. Stir in milk and yeast mixture. Mix 1/2 of the flour with dry ingredients and add to liquids. Beat well together and then add more flour, gradually working in the raisins. Knead well until dough is soft and smooth. Brush top with melted butter. Cover and place in warm place to rise, about 1-1/2 hours. Punch down and let rise for one more hour. Make into small loaves to fit (1/3 full) in round, tall juice cans. Containers should be well greased. Cover lightly and let rise for 1 hour in a warm place. Bake in a 350 F oven for 45 minutes. Take out and brush top with 1 beaten egg mixed with 2 tablespoons milk. Return to oven for 10 minutes on lower heat. Remove carefully from pans and brush top with melted butter. Place on towels to cool.

Hot Cross Buns

Those store-bought buns you find ahead of Easter are a mere shadow of these sweet, chewy, homemade buns.

  • 2 pkgs. yeast
  • 1/2 c. warm water
  • 2 tsp. white sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter (melted)
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. raisins
  • 1/4 c. mixed fruit or peel
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 8 c. all-purpose flour (approx.)
  • 2 c. milk (scalded, cooled until warm)

Dissolve sugar in water. Add yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes. Put melted butter, salt and brown sugar into a bowl. Add warm milk. Add 2 cups flour and spices. Beat with mixer for 2 minutes on high. Add yeast mixture and beat in 2 cups of flour. Beat well. Add eggs, fruit and remaining flour and stir with a wooden spoon until well mixed. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Let rise until doubled in bulk. Punch down. Shape into buns and place in greased pans. Mark a cross on top of each bun with a knife. Let rise until doubled. Brush with a beaten egg mixed with about 1 teaspoon of water. Bake in a 375 F oven for 25 minutes. While hot brush with 1/4 cup corn syrup mixed with 2 tablespoons boiling water. Makes about 3 dozen buns.

About the author

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Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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