Sometimes I think I enjoy the preparation for a holiday almost as much as the holiday itself. It's fun to get ready for something fun! And I really enjoy, in the case of a church holiday, thinking of the symbolism and teachings about the day as I get ready.
We have an Easter breakfast at church, and I was asked to bring some sort of sweet bread. Cinnamon rolls was suggested, and that would be fine, but it just didn't seem special enough. Mom reminded me of the fancy Easter breads that my Grandma used to make (based on Ukrainian "Paska"). I got really excited to have a fancy and traditional thing to make for the breakfast.
I used my usual sourdough recipe, but I added lots of soft butter, some sugar, and eggs to the dough to make it rich and sweet (for the sweet reward that is ours to claim). Then I kneaded in some chopped cranberries and walnuts (for Christ's blood and bitter sufferings). Two of the loaves I braided, and two of them I shaped in round pans and decorated with swirly crosses and flowers (for... obvious symbolism).
I let them rise in the fridge overnight and baked them this morning.
They didn't quite turn out like I had envisioned, but I guess I just need to keep practicing. It is bread, after all. I learned some things, and I think I know what I need to do differently next time to make the decorations turn out better.
The little "flowers" look a little less than flowerlike, but this is dough we're talking about here. It's limiting.
Nathan was slightly appalled at first that I nestled colored eggs (red eggs to symbolize the new life we have through Christ's blood). in the dough before baking. ( He was also disappointed about the lack of cinnamon rolls. Guess I'll have to make him some, soon.) Yeah, maybe people will think it's weird, and I even thought it was weird when my Grandma did it all those years ago (she made hers round like a nest, though, a detail I'd forgotten, which makes a little more sense). There are quite a few things that I've come to understand and embrace about what Grandma did that I used to think were weird (or gross!). Someday, I'll be an grandma, too, and by then I"ll make beautiful Paska, and my grandchildren will think I'm a weird old lady who puts whole eggs in bread.
I had never made braided loaves before, and I was a little bummed that they lost the braided shape upon rising and baking. But, like I said, I learned some things, and I bet it'll look better next time. I was also disappointed that the color from the eggs bled all over the bread. I kinda thought that might happen, and waited to put the eggs in until right before baking, figuring it would surely bleed if they sat there all night. But they did anyway. Oh well. Not sure how to prevent that.
Jonah was asking all week, then nonstop all day today, when it would be time to color eggs.
Today! Sometime, today, I promise!
It's really a fun, low-stress project with him now. It used to be chaos, but now he's old enough to need very little direction. We really had fun with it. Next year, it will be chaos again with Evan helping! Fun, fun!
For our Easter dinner, I get to make the food, but not clean my house for company! Yay! Best of both worlds. I'm making most of the food (minus the meat, but including herb-roasted potatoes, balsamic-maple marinated broccoli salad, asparagus "tart", and cherry cake topped with almond strusel) and taking it to our friends' house in Indiana. I'm looking forward to a good visit with dear friends, and a brief break from the "same ol', same ol'." Holiday visits with them are always lots of fun.
But for now, back to the preparation!
A blessed Resurrection day to all my dear blog readers!