This morning I asked my girls to choose a book for us to read from our Lent and Easter Book Basket and they picked The Birds' Gift: A Ukrainian Easter Story. This sweet book, unfortunately out of print at the moment, is a folktale describing the origin of pysanky. After reading the story we were talking about other Ukrainian Easter traditions and decided to add Paska to our Easter menu this year. We also learned that in earlier times in Ukraine "birds made from dough were baked representing the larks, who were migrating back to the north. Today, these bread “doves” are seen made for Easter. "
I posted the recipe we used below, but you could also save some dough from your favorite paska recipe, or even make Dinner Roll Doves out of Rhodes Rolls! Ours didn't turn out as well as I would have liked - you have to look at them just the right way to see that they are actually birds - but the children are looking forward to enjoying them with our Easter dinner!
Easter Doves (Paska Dinner Rolls)
Adapted from Ukrainian Classic Kitchen
- 1 package dry yeast (1 tablespoon)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 3/4 cup lukewarm water
- 3 eggs
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 cup milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 cups flour
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and honey in lukewarm water. Let stand 10 minutes till yeast begins to work.
Beat eggs until foamy. Add the honey, oil, milk, and salt, and beat until well mixed. Add 2 cups of the flour and blend in well. Knead in by hand the 3 additional cups of flour or enough to make a workable dough. Knead until smooth and elastic. (I used my stand mixer with the dough hook.) Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with a towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.
Shape doves; place on greased cookie sheet and let rest 10 to 15 minutes. (The doves will keep their shape best if they are not allowed to rise too long. They will rise some in the oven.) Just before baking, insert cloves or raisins (push in deeply to avoid burning or popping out) for eyes. Brush with an egg yolk wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired. Bake at 350˚ F for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
HOW TO SHAPE DOVES
Doves may be shaped in two ways:
1. Roll out the dough into snakes about the thickness of a finger; cut into 4 inch sections. Place one strip horizontally on your work surface; lay another strip on top like a cross. Pull the arms of the strip beneath up and cross to the opposite side) left side becomes right, right side becomes left); flatten and shape slightly as for wings. Shape one end of the straight strip of dough like a head (pinch for a beak); flatten the other end and make three or four slits for tail feathers.
2. Roll out the dough into snakes about the thickness of a finger. Cut in strips 5-6 inches long, tie each in a knot. Shape one end like a head (pinch to form beak); flatten other end to make three or four slits to form tail feathers, spreading them apart a bit.
NOTE: I only used some of the dough to bake a couple batches of the Easter Doves. I used the remaining dough to make an extra loaf of Paska!