Friday, March 30, 2012

Anna Sultana's Saffron Paska (Saffron Easter Bread)

Easter, just like Christmas, comes with its own recipes.
Ah, tradition...  Gotta love it.
Or at least do it.
If you want to keep peace in the family.

Here's an old favorite.
Or, hopefully, a new one.


                             Saffron Paska

1/4 Cup boiling water            
3/4 to 1 ounce saffron             
Let steep until cool, then strain. 

Scald and cool to lukewarm
3 cups milk                              

1 1/2 Cups lukewarm water   
2 Tablespoons yeast                  
3 Tablespoons sugar                            
Let sit 10 minutes

Cream together
1 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar                            
Add one at a time, blending each in thoroughly
6 eggs yolks                              

Add to creamed mixture
saffron water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt                          
1 lemon's juice and grated rind     
1 teaspoon vanilla  (optional)             
yeast mixture 
lukewarm milk 
Mix well.
Add, mixing well
5 Cups sifted flour                     

Beat until they stand in stiff peaks
6 egg whites                              
Fold whites into the dough.  
Cover bowl.  Let dough rise in warm place until doubled in bulk. 

Add to make a soft dough 
4 to 5 Cups sifted flour               
Knead until elastic.  
Place in a greased bowl.  
Cover bowl.  Let dough rise in warm place until doubled in bulk.  
Punch down.  
Reserve 1/4 of dough for decorating.
Shape remaining dough into 2 or 3 loaves.  
Place in well greased round bread pans.  
Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk.                                                  
Decorate with reserved dough before baking. 

Bake in a preheated 325º oven for 30 minutes,    
Reduce heat to 275º and bake 35 minutes longer.

1 egg 
2 Tablespoons milk  
Brush tops.  
Return to bake 5 more minutes or until golden.  
Turn out on rack and let cool.


  1. thank you for the recipe! I have 3 loaves in the oven now.

  2. You're welcome, Kristin! Wishing you and yours a very Happy Easter!

  3. An ounce of saffron would cost thousands of dollars and be much too large to submerge in that amount of boiling water. Do you have a different measurement or do you mean something other than saffron threads? Thanks!

    1. You're so right - saffron is an expensive spice.
      This is the traditional recipe, but, as with many old recipes, there are ways to substitute.

      Turmeric is a widely recommended saffron substitute. When cooked it gives the yellow colour.
      Substitute 1/2 teaspoon turmeric per 10-15 threads for colour, then add 1/2 teaspoon paprika or so for extra flavor.

      Annatto, also called Achiote or Roucou, is called poor man's saffron, and can also be used.

      Hope this helps.


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