On a whim, I booked a class in Paska baking at the Ukrainian Museum in Manhattan this weekend. Part of our family’s Easter tradition is to eat Paska and I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn how to make it myself as we normally buy it from a local Ukrainian church.
The three-hour class was only $25 so I was not expecting the amazing experience I had.
There were three older Ukrainian women who led the class and the first thing we did was fill a plate of all of the Ukrainian specialties we were going to learn how to make. Each dish was more delicious than the next. Our teachers showed us how to make beet horseradish, Ukrainian mayo, and a meringue and sponge cake that had 160 proof rum in the buttercream. It was heavenly.
After the demonstrations, we started in on the Paska. We didn’t learn how to start the dough from scratch but they gave us the recipe so we could try it on our own.
We learned that Paska bread baking was a pagan tradition and how after Christianity became the norm, how the tradition continued and the symbols were repurposed. We all sipped coffee while we rolled out and cut our decorations for our tiny breads.
As our bread baked, I roamed around the museum and bought a few trinkets in the gift shop for my family for Easter. Our class was in the basement and as I was walking around the second-floor gallery, the smell of the bread baking wafted all of way up to where I was. I figured it was time to pick up my Paska.
I collected my little Paska, wrapped it in foil, and headed home. My heart and stomach were both full as I headed home contemplating the lovely morning.