Pasca, Romanian Easter Cheesecake

I was supposed to be in Bucharest over the Easter weekend, but this little issue of a pandemic put paid to that. Now, don’t get me wrong whilst sad about it, I would rather be safe and well at home, there will be other times to visit!

To add salt to the wound, this months edition of Wanderlust magazine had a feature on how to make a traditional Romanian Pasca. This is a Brioche Baked Cheesecake eaten in Romania at Orthodox Easter. So naturally I had to make it! The recipe comes from the book ‘Carpathia’ by  Irina Georgescu. Its easy to make, it just takes a bit of time, but its truly worth the wait and fills you home with the smell of orange, vanilla and the sweetness of Rum!

Pasca (Serves six)

Ingredients

For the Brioche:

300g Strong White Bread Flour
30ml Milk, at room temperature
7g Fast-action Dried Yeast
1 tbsp Caster Sugar
3 Eggs
150g butter, diced and softened

For the filling:

200g of Fresh Ricotta OR 100g Shop-bought Ricotta + 100g Creme Fraiche
3 Egg Yolks
3 tbsp Sugar
100g Sultanas
15ml Orange Liqueur or Rum (optional)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

For baking:

1 Egg Yolk mixed with 1 tsp Milk
Zest of one orange
10g diced Butter

Method

  1. For the brioche dough, put the flour, milk, yeast and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.
  2. Mix on a medium speed until combined, then add the eggs individually, mixing each time.
  3. When the dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl, start adding the butter, dice by dice, ensuring that each addition is well incorporated.
  4. Cover and leave to rise for 1.5 – 2 hours in a warm place.
  5. Then put in the fridge for 2 – 3 hours or overnight. It will then be ready to roll.
  6. To make the filling, thoroughly combine all the ingredients together to form a smooth mixture.
  7. Divide the dough into two pieces. Grease a 25cm pastry ring or springform tin with the base removed.
  8. Roll one half of the dough into a circle slightly larger than the ring or tin, and place it onto a nonstick baking tray.
  9. Place the ring or tin on top of the pastry (you will trim the edges later).
  10. Divide the remaining half of the dough into two pieces. Roll into two long ropes, measuring 85 to 90cm.
  11. Loosely twist the dough ropes together, leaving room for the dough to expand. Place inside the ring or tin, creating a beautiful border around the sides.
  12. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark five. Brush the border with the egg wash, then pour in the filling.
  13. Scatter the orange zest on top and dot with the diced butter.
  14. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the filling is soft and wobbly in the middle. If the dough becomes too dark, cover with foil.
  15. Cool on a wire rack, trim around the pastry ring and then carefully remove it. Scatter any leftover sultanas on top.

Serve this fresh from the oven, because you won’t be able to resist the smell! Or have it next day for Breakfast, something that is apparently common in Romania, and something I am fully on board with!