Easter paska bread

Making this traditional Eastern European Easter bread will take the best part of a day - but before clicking away bear in mind much of that is spent on the repeated risings so you can get on with other things as that happens. All the time invested is well worth it for the resulting sweet, impressively tall, brioche-like bread.

Paska is not so much a dessert, maybe more of a snack or a breakfast / lunch treat on Easter Sunday. Try with stewed apples, jam, ice-cream., or - for extra Easter-ness - with chocolate spread.

Apples make an excellent substitution for the quince that is more traditionally used to make Membrillo. Especially when partnered with musky purple plums that give a fabulously rich and wintry purple colour to this thick-set fruit paste / jelly. It will be terrific to slice into and serve with cheese - or maybe try a little piece stirred into the sauce of a stew of a sweet, fruity note. 

This ice-cream is made without a rich egg-custard base to really let the flavours of the plums come through. Use a mix of plum varieties if you can for a balance of flavours but if you want the lovely pink colour of the end result make sure to choose purple-skinned ones.

These pannacotta are gorgeously light, not too sweet thanks to the subtle herb and spice, and with just the right amount of wobble. The key ingredients are the milk and cream - the better and more flavoursome they are, the better the pannacotta will be too.

When an ingredient list is as brief as this one there is nowhere for poor quality ingredients to hide. Get the best walnuts you can as they won’t have the bitterness that tends to come with older, cheaper ones. With the balsamic, avoid anything that lists in its ingredients caramel or colouring. 

Once you’re all set with the ingredients this is a very quick and simple way to use balsamic vinegar to transform conventional sweet, toasted nuts into something with much more depth. Try them crumbled over desserts; or chop into savoury dishes such as braised red cabbage to give a sweet edge. I also like to sprinkle salt flakes over the nuts as they cool to then have them alongside a whiskey cocktail.