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Paska baking

Поради з випікання пасок

Paska – is a Ukrainian ritual traditional confectionery bread, that is baked for Easter. 

Every year in almost every house comes the time for pleasanst troubles of making Paskas for the holiday, and with them – a great responsibility. Someone chooses a recipe that they inherited from their grandmother or mother, and others are looking for new recipes in order to bake their first ever Paska. 

 

Every year, Paska baking presents lots of questions about its making:

 

– Why different people get different results following the same recipe?

– How to get the wanted result?

– Are the Paskas well baked?

 

I will try to give you an answer for some questions and calm you down, so you can enjoy the process and get delicious home-made Paskas for Easter. 

The result we get is influenced by many factors

You will find a breakdown of all the ingredients in the article Theory of Yeast Dough at the link

Gluten net holds the gases which yeast  will release during the fermentation process. The stronger and more elastic the gluten net becomes, the better the dough will rise without falling.

We will focus our attention on the products with all-purpose flour with 10.3% gluten content. This flour is made of Ukrainian wheat, so it is logical, that we will make our Paskas from this flour. Paska differs noticeably from panettone by its delicate and homogenous texture.

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In the first picture you can see the dough that has been kneaded in a mechanical way using a planetary mixer. 

The mechanic way of kneading is more intensive, so the dough is more elastic and homogenous. It easily lags behind the walls of the mixer bowl, does not stick, stretches well and does not tear apart while stretching.

Поради з випікання пасок

In the second picture you can see the stretching of the dough after mechanical kneading for 30 minutes. The dough becomes transparent and does not tear.

Поради з випікання пасок

In the third picture is the demonstration of hand-kneaded dough. It is slightly patchy, and tears while stretching it. 

The gluten net is not strong enough. We can continue kneading, or leave the dough to rest. While resting, the gluten net will continue forming, but not as active, as while kneading the dough.

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In the fourth picture there is the result of baking two paskas of equal weight of 550 gr each. 

 

The dough for the first Paska is kneaded in the mechanical way for 30 minutes, and the dough for the second one is kneaded for the same time by hand. 

Поради з випікання пасок

The dough kneaded in a mechanical way is much more elastic. It stretches well, as it holds the gases released by yeast, so this dough rose much faster too. 

 

The dough kneaded by hand does not have this elasticity, so it tears from gas pressure. 

 

Sometimes the Paska top is not even. The reason is that the dough has been not kneaded well and the gluten has developed poorly in the result. 

Поради з випікання пасок

In the fifth picture you see both Paskas cut. 

The first cut is the result of a mechanical kneading way. The bread is more fibrous, the texture is much softer, more delicate, we get a pronounced creamy aroma.

The second cut is the hand kneaded Paska. The bread is  denser, no fibrous texture, it breaks quickly.

 

Both Paskas are very tasty, fragrant, and differ only in texture while eating them. 

The conclusion

when you understand the processes that take place in the dough depending on the choice of ingredients, kneading and baking, then you can control and directly influence the final result. Then you throw away the fear of yeast dough, failures, and lost time. 

 

 

How could our grannies knead such a big amount of dough?

 

The dough kneading has a few stages. 

 

The first stage, when the dough is hardly sticking to your hands. During the process we add lots of flour, so the dough becomes homogenous faster, and usually then we stop kneading. There is no more strength to knead more. The gluten is not yet fully developed, but the dough is relatively elastic and we can bake. In the process, the dough may tear and the surface may be uneven. There are glazes and decorations for this.

 

But if you have a gluten window in mind, then keep kneading. The most important is not to overheat the dough more than 25°C. While heating, the reverse process may start and the dough will get watery. 

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