Here are step-by-step instructions for making peeps. You might also enjoy looking at a Slovak Christmas Eve dinner at Charlotte's house.
See Easter Breads Across Eastern Europe and Easter Bread Recipes Around the World.
Makes 3 round (7x3-inch) Slovak Paska loaves, or 2 loaves and 40 Peeps
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 12 ounces (3 sticks) butter
- 3 packages active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup warm water (no hotter than 110 degrees)
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 8 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Milk or beaten egg yolk
- In a small saucepan, heat milk, 1/2 cup sugar, salt and butter over low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Cool to lukewarm (no hotter than 110 degrees).
- Dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in warm water placed in a mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl that has been warmed. Let proof for 5 minutes. Add eggs, milk mixture and 4 1/2 cups flour. With the dough hook attachment, mix on speed 2 for 1 minute.
- Continue mixing on speed 2, and add remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time and mix about 2 minutes or until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowel. Continue mixing 2 minutes longer or until dough is smooth and elastic. It will be sticky to the touch.
- Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in warm place about 1-2 hours or until doubled. Punch down dough and divide in thirds, reserving a small piece of dough from each to make decorations. Shape each into a round loaf and place in greased round (7x3-inch) bread pans. Using reserved dough, decorate with cross in center or braids around the edge. Cover and let rise in warm place 1-2 hours or until doubled.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Gently brush tops of risen dough with milk or beaten egg yolk. Bake 40 minutes or until golden brown and instant-read thermometer registers 190 degrees. Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire rack.
- To Make Paska Peeps: After dough has risen the first time, portion out 1/8 cup dough for each peep. Let rest, covered a few minutes. Roll each portion into a 10-inch rope. Form a knot with a short end sticking out for the head and the long end for the tail. Position the knot so that it looks like wings sticking up and head is in an upright position. Tweak the head to shape a beak and embed cloves (cut off the stem end) or 1/6 of a raisin for the eyes. Place on greased cookie sheet. Flatten long end a bit and make 3-4 slashes on it, being careful NOT to cut completely through the dough, to give the appearance of tail feathers. Cover and let rise for 20 minutes. Brush with milk or egg yolk and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.