The Pascha Bread in the picture is Judy Shuttic's 357th. Really, it is. And yes, she really kept track.
As the 358th took shape in the bread machine, Shuttic explained that she had written down each and every occasion for which she made the recipe, one she originally got from an aunt.
Obviously, at 59, Shuttic has not experienced hundreds of Easters.
Judy Shuttic of Cortland shows a ready-to-eat Pascha bread, made in her bread machine.
"It's excellent all year round, not just Easter," she said. She said she also used to make four loaves at once.
In her Tribune Cooks entry form, she explained that she adapted her aunt's Easter bread recipe for the bread machine.
"Upon returning to work after raising my children, I needed a quicker way to make my aunt's recipe for bread so I could tuck it in my Easter basket to be blessed in church the Saturday before Easter," she wrote. "This is basically the only bread I make in my machine."
Bread Machine Pascha (Easter Bread)
Submitted by Judy Shuttic
1 cup milk (minus 2 tablespoons), scalded in microwave for 1 minute, 30 seconds
1/8 cup water (medium temperature)
1 egg (large), beaten
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/8 teaspoons salt
2 tablepoons margarine
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast for bread machines
Scald milk; then cool; add water and beaten egg to bread pan. Add dry ingredients. Divide margarine into four pieces and put into the four corners of the pan on top of the dry ingredients. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients but not touching the liquid, and add the yeast. Set bread machine for sweet-medium cycle. Approximately 3 hours, 50 minutes.
Shuttic put some legwork into tweaking the recipe so it would work in the bread machine.
"I called the yeast people, the flour people and the bread machine people," she said.
She uses dry measuring cups and says that no sifting is necessary. She also advises that when making a well in the dry ingredients inside the bread machine, cooks should take care not to get it too deep.
"If you let the liquid touch the yeast, it won't come out," she said.
Shuttic said the tradition of taking a basket to be blessed the day before Easter is a Slovak tradition. She goes to St. Robert's in Cortland for this annual event. Her basket will sometimes feature a lamb crafted of butter and a hand-stitched breadcloth.
"The old-fashioned ladies like a pascha with a braid on it," she said. "What you can do is put it in and take it out as dough."
While the bread machine does its thing in the kitchen, the Food Network is on the television in the living room.
"These cooks like Paula Deen, they use a lot of fat," Shuttic says. "That's why I use margarine and always fat-free milk, even in the bread."
There is one exception - her chocolate chip cookies. They get real, unsalted butter.
"I'm more fond of baking," Shuttic said. "I cook because I have to, but I bake because I want to."
Shuttic, who works at First Place Bank in Cortland, also enjoys making treats for her daughter's third-grade class in Newton Falls.
"I cover anything in chocolate that I can," she said. "Like Oreos and marshmallows."
At Christmastime, she helped the children make gingerbread houses.
Shuttic is no stranger to making treats, since she used to decorate cakes, practicing at first on birthdays. She's entered the Trumbull County Fair with themed cakes such as a silver Michael Jackson glove, a Ghostbusters cake and a chess set. She said she may return to it when she retires.
Lending moral support to her cousin for the Tribune Cooks interview was Betty Ann Harris.
"I have this every year. To me, it's like a cake," she said. "We wait for Easter just to get the bread."
It seems every family member enjoys their bread differently. Husband Donald likes it plain, some like it with butter and others with jelly.
"Imagine that with a good slice of ham on it," Harris said.
While reporter, photographer and cousin enjoy a generously-sliced piece of the buttered Easter bread, which is especially delicious with a good cup of coffee, another family member makes her presence known.
Mindy, the 15-year-old Yorkie, makes the rounds, literally. The diminutive old dog takes many tiny steps around the section of wall that divides dining room, living room and kitchen. In her honor, that rich cup of coffee sits on a coaster with a picture of a Yorkie on it.
Shuttic said when her daughter was away at college, the Easter bread was what she asked to be sent to her.
"I would be so happy if people would actually try this recipe," Shuttic said. "It is the best bread."
Who will be lucky recipient of No. 359?