Easter is a favorite holiday for youngsters and adults alike. Indulging in lamb meat, palatable side dishes and filling desserts is only one of the many reasons why people look forward to these festivities. And speaking of desserts, Slavs aren’t short on finger-licking options. Each Slavic country has its own variation of an Easter treat and naming them all would end up becoming a mile long list, so here are just some of the best ones.
One of the most famous and distinctive Slavic desserts for Easter is, of course, the paskha. Easily recognizable by its signature appearances, this cheese-based cake originated in Russia, but it’s also popular across Belarus, Ukraine and other Eastern Orthodox countries. Its name literally means Easter. Preparing Paskha requires a special wooden or plastic mold called pasochnitsa, as well as lots of tvarog, often sweetened by vanilla, smetana, spices and other ingredients. Apart from the traditional XB letters (standing for Christ Has Risen) this festive dish is additionally decorated with raisins and candied fruits.
It may sound similar to the previous one, but unlike the paskha, this dessert is actually a type of sweet Easter bread, which is eaten in Romania, Moldova, Belarus, Slovakia and other European and Eurasian countries. Allegedly originating from Ukraine, different variations of it have been prepared in numerous countries for centuries. Its base is similar to the one of most cakes – flour, eggs, sugar, milk and butter. Depending on the recipe the paska or pască Easter bread can be prepared with raisins, smetana, custard cheese and in Romania even with rum.
Bulgarians, Romanians and Moldovans eat cozonac or kozunak during the Easter celebrations. In a nutshell, this dessert is a type of bread that resembles the famous German stollen bread. There are countless recipes for this airy, sweet bread and they all call for different ingredients. Some people prefer their cozonacs plain with a few raisins, whereas others indulge in chocolate, jam, candied fruits, dates, almonds, hazelnuts, Turkish delight and a handful of sugary glaze on top.
No festive table in Poland would be complete without the mazurek – a traditional Polish dessert, which is eaten during Easter and Christmas celebrations. This flatcake is richly decorated with springtime symbols like bunnies, branches, willows, rosettes and other lavish ornaments made out of biscuits, fruits, nuts, seeds, icing sugar, chocolate and candy. Hearty and heavy on the calories, the mazurek is a typical example of the delicious Polish cuisine.
Russian kulich cakes taste a lot like cozonac/ kozunak breads, although they look nothing alike. The kulich’s origins are often believed to date all the way back to the days of the Byzantine Empire. Nowadays these cakes and their colorful appearances symbolize not only the Easter holidays, but the overall spring season. Babushkas from all over decorate their cylindrical kulich cakes with branches, flowers, icing sugar, sprinkles, raisins, almonds and other tasty toppings and take them to the local priest for a blessing. According to the old traditions, the blessed kulich is eaten in the morning at breakfast, whereas the one that hasn’t been blessed is left for dessert.
Adorable in appearances and fluffy in texture the beránek is a lamb-shaped cake that has been part of Easter traditions in the Czech Republic from time immemorial. Prepared in lamb molds, this dessert is definitely the center of attention for everyone who’s not familiar with the Czech cuisine. Back in the days the lamb molds were kind of like a family heirloom and were passed from one generation to the next. Fortunately, today you can buy such molds online if you can’t find any beránek cakes in stores.