After the strict fasting of Lent, an explosion of "forbidden" foods appears on the Eastern European Easter table. There is no better example than these slightly sweet yeast breads full of butter, sugar and, sometimes, cheese. A staggering number of eggs, a symbol of fertility, rebirth, spring, and the Resurrection, figures prominently in them. Their names, often some form of the word paska, which means "Easter," can be a bread in some countries and a molded cheese dessert in others. The fun is in trying to figure out which is which! Check out these other Easter Bread Recipes Around the World.
Croatian Easter Bread Dolls take center stage on a table all decked out in Easter linens, silver and crystal. Kids love them! But the most popular Easter bread is a sweet yeast-raised round loaf known as pinca or sirnica. A small loaf of this cake-like bread is placed in the basket of food to be blessed on Holy Saturday. Read more about How Croatians celebrate Easter.
This recipe for Czech Easter Cake or velikonoční bochánek (veh-lih-kaw-nawtch-nee baw-khah-nek) is identical to Czech Christmas bread or vanocka except for the shaping.
This recipe for Polish chałka (HOW-kah) is a rich, braided egg bread that may or may not contain raisins. It's similar to Bohemian-Czech hoska, Jewish challah and French brioche. Chalka is served year-round, but especially at Christmas and Easter. If you have any leftover chalka, it makes delicious French toast or bread pudding with orange sauce or makowki (Polish poppyseed bread pudding).
Romanian Easter bread is called the Italian panettone of Romania because of its shape and similar texture. Bulgarians serve the same bread but call it kozunak. When Romanian Easter bread dough is filled with farmers cheese, it becomes the delicious pasca, which, in turn, is similar to Polish kolacz.
This sweet braided egg bread features red hard-cooked eggs, symbolizing the blood Christ shed and his rebirth or resurrection. Some people shape their bread into a cross with an egg at the head, foot and arms of the cross. This is very similar to Bohemian hoska.