Pääsiäisleipä – You cannot pronounce it but you can eat it!
Pääsiäisleipä is a Finnish triple risen sweet bread made this time of year to celebrate the birth of calves and the abundance of dairy products. As a kid my mom used to make this and it is simply delicious. The dough is similar to panettone and is studded with golden raisins, almond slivers, citrus and best and most surprising of all – ground cardamom. This takes a few hours of risings, but you will be justly rewarded with one of the most delicious breads ever. The recipe is from the Sunset Cook Book of Breads 1973.
The recipe makes a big loaf the size of panettone, but you can also cook the dough in muffin tins, adding the dough so it fills half of the tin and rising so it comes to the lip. There is enough dough to fill about three muffin tins. The cooking times will be shorter for the muffins. The most important thing is not to open the oven door until the dough has risen and the top is golden brown. If you open it too early it can fall. Even if it does fall as just happened to me because I opened the oven door too early (yes I forgot) it is still addictively delicious – just not as airy but denser in crumb.
And speaking of baking, if you like to bake we suggest you join the Baker’s Dozen. Membership is cheap and they have all kinds of fun classes, field trips and guest speakers with a catered lunch. They are known for their wonderful cookbook The Baker’s Dozen Cookbook.
Now back to the Pääsiäisleipä!
1 package of yeast
¼ cup warm water (105-115 F)
¾ cup light cream
1 cup all purpose unsifted flour
3 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
½ (1/2 lb) cup melted and cooled butter
½ teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ground cardamom
1 ts of lemon zest
1 TB of orange zest
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup sliced almonds
½ cup milk scalded and cooled
1 cup rye flour
2 cups unsifted all purpose flour
Dissolve yeast in the warm water in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a mixer or food processor with a dough kneading attachment
Stir in the cream and 1 cup of the flour and beat until smooth. Turn out into a bowl or keep in the mixing bowl, cover and let rise until it doubles in size about 40 minutes. Mix in the egg, sugar, butter, salt cardamom, lemon and orange zests, raisins, almonds and beat until combined. Stir in the milk and rye flour and the 2 cups of all purpose flour and mix or knead for 5 minutes with a machine or 10 minutes by hand.
Butter a bowl and place dough in it and turn around to grease the top of it. Let it rise covered with a cloth until it has doubled in size.
Punch the dough down and work into a smooth ball. Place the dough in a well buttered 2 quart straight sided pot and let it rise until it is just about as high as the lip of the pot.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for around 40 minutes. Do not open the oven door until after it has risen and the top is a golden brown or it might fall. If it browns too much, put some foil over it and cook until a chopstick or knife comes out clean. Be careful not to overcook.
Allow to cook 20 minutes before removing from the pan.