March 24, 2008

Paska, a special bread that I used this past weekend

This year, my Easter dinner was photographed for
my upcoming new book on elegant entertaining, so I can’t divulge too
much about what was served.  I will tell you, however, about the
beautiful and delicious paska, or Ukrainian Easter yeast bread that
graced our table.  Several years ago, Lubow Wolynetz was a guest on my
previous television show. Lubow is the librarian and curator at the
Ukrainian Museum and Library of Stamford, CT,
and is also a wonderful baker.  On that episode, she shared with us her
recipe for paska and I was happy when she agreed to provide us with her
stunning breads this Easter.

Lubow Wolynetz holding a lovely paska.

Lubow explained that for Ukrainians, paska is so important at Easter
time, representing joy of new life, and baking it is never taken
lightly.  It’s critical that the top of a paska be covered with symbols
made out of the dough, such as crosses, astrological signs, rosettes,
leaves, birds, or bees.  And, according to ritual, it’s believed that
how your paska turned out would determine your future.  So naturally,
every baker hoped for the most beautiful and tallest results.  And to
ensure these goals, a bit of magic was always performed, including the
recital of sacred formulas and incantations.  During the baking
process, no one in the household was allowed to sit for fear that the
paska would not rise.  Needless to say, a successful paska brought joy
and relief to each family and was then carried to church for the ever
so important blessing. You can bake your very own Paska bread by using THIS RECIPE.

This is the building that houses The
Ukrainian Museum, built in 1867. Bishop Constantine
Bohachevesky purchased the property in 1933 with
plans to establish a Ukrainian cultural institution.

This building is perfect for a movie
set! In fact, it's been used for that purpose.


A formal parlor.

There are many traditional Ukrainian
garments on display.


The garments are embellished with fine


Meticulously decorated Ukrainian Easter eggs._o7j5472

I just adore this egg!

A regal eagle.

The surround and hearth of this mantle
are covered with lovely Delft tiles.


A handsomely carved fireplace.