Recipe: Romanian Easter Bread | Pasca


In my dream Romanian house I am surrounded by tall, sunny windows overlooking cobblestone streets and green, leggy hills.  As I sit in a velvet window seat, I nibble copious amounts of Pasca, a traditional sweet bread enjoyed on Easter morning. The bread is filled with sweet cheese (think something like cheesecake) and sometimes raisins. Between bites, I sip a cup of steaming, hot tea.

The nearby oven radiates gentle heat that drifts through the house and takes the chill out of the air.

In real life, my kitchen has no windows and, instead of warmth floating through the house, my stand mixer tosses my made-with-love Pasca dough off of the counter.

Instead of daydreaming by the window, I spend my afternoon Googling what kind of mixer to buy this time. You see, as my stand mixer kneaded the soft dough, she shimmied off the table, crashed onto the tile floor and broke the arm mechanism for good.

Even JP Weld wouldn’t put those pieces back together. I know because, love him, Mr Picky tried.

The scene was a cross between a Halloween nightmare and a rather incredible swan dive.

As I stood there, relieved that Ava hadn’t been conked on the head by this beast and wondering what to do next (and after being blown off by customer service), I chose to be influenced by the Romanian proverb ” A broken friendship may be soldered, but will never be sound.”

I felt it was all the permission I needed to go ahead and purchase a Kitchenaid.

As for the dough that was in the old mixer?

It was perfectly good. I baked it up and the result was grand.

Photo: The dough still looks good though.  http://instagr.am/p/RAtMGwj71m/

Recipe adapted from Fake Ginger

Ingredients:

For the dough

1 cup warm whole milk
2 tsp yeast
3 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoon butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest from 1 lemon
4 3/4 – 5 cups flour

For the filling

6 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg

For the egg wash

1 egg, lightly beaten with a tsp of water

Method:

Get your baking shoes on! Mix the milk, yeast and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with dough hook. Let it proof while you gather and measure out the remaining ingredients. Take a couple of deep breaths to really absorb that fresh lemon zest. Delicious.

Mix everything together, adding enough flour to get dough to clear sides of bowl, no more.  It should be soft, but not sticky.

Let knead for 10 minutes, place in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.

Boom!  A dough pillow…

Next, divide the dough in 2 pieces. Press one into a 9 inch, buttered springform pan.

Divide the other half into 3 even pieces and make each one into a 30 inch rope. Braid and loop around the edge of the pan.

Let rise about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, whip together the cream cheese with the sugar until smooth, then whip in the vanilla extract and the egg.

Punch down the center of the dough, brush the braid with egg wash, then add the cream cheese filling.

NOTE: I’ve made this recipe about 8 times and am still working on the perfect baking temperature…. because this is bread (which loves high heat) and cheesecake (which is temperamental and likes low heat), it’s just not easy. The good news? Every single version tasted awesome – it just maybe didn’t look as pretty.

I’ve narrowed it down to two decent methods:

A) Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes. The bread will be deep brown and the center will likely crack, but it’ll still taste grand.

B) For a gentler bake, reduced chances of cracking, and golden crust, try 400F for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to 250F for about 1 hr/1 hr 15 min. This method will most likely sink a bit in the center, but there should be little to no cracking.

In general, I recommend method B… unless you’re in a huge hurry.

Turn off heat when the center is set, but still jiggles a teeny bit when you push the pan (this will firm up when cool). Let cool in the oven with the door shut.

Enjoy!

Preferably with a view like this:

Retezat Mountains, Romania. Photo by AlexCiopata.
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Comments

  1. NICE job on that bread…may I recommend my favorite mixer? Bosch Universal! They are pricy but I bought mine used from a bread forum called The Fresh Loaf from one of its members. You will not be disappointed with this mixer!

    Off to make cabbage rolls ;)

    • Sasha Martin says:

      You, know…I seriously considered one… but I couldn’t find anywhere to check them out in person. I really am a hands on shopper haha. If I can’t see it in front of me I’m very uneasy! :) Enjoy the cabbage rolls.

  2. Did you try baking it with a water bath?
    It ensures even heating and makes the oven humid so the baking is more uniform, the cheesecake doesn’t dry out, and you don’t get cracks.

    • Might be tricky to find something to put a 9″ springform pan in for a water bath though…

      • Sasha Martin says:

        I didn’t… I thought the bread acted as a pretty good shield and there were no cracks in the low temp version, just sinking. I still have to figure it out. I’m going to try a higher ratio of egg to cream cheese (6 oz cream cheese to 1 egg) to see what that’s like. If that fixes the problem, I’ll update the recipe :)

        • Sasha Martin says:

          Ok, I think that was the key – 6 oz cream cheese instead of 8, which makes for a sturdier structure (more egg to cream cheese ratio) and also a bit less filling, which helps it from being so overcrowded, too.

  3. HA! Sasha so is that #9 for you? lol….hope you still consider the Bosch! I was unable to see it in person too but checked out a lot of You Tube videos and took the plunge! I have no regrets!

    The cabbage rolls were fantastic and what a glourious smell in the house the 4 hours during baking ;)

  4. That looks fantastic!!

  5. This looks delicious!!! i think I will have to make it next Easter!

    And I think your old mixer and my bread machine are in cahoots… mine has jumped off the counter twice now, and so far the JB Weld has done its job. I love the Kitchenaid stand mixer – it’s never jumped. But now I will keep a closer eye on my Cuisinart food processor…

  6. Oh my! That bread is beautiful!

  7. Sorry about your mixer….;-( That’s just sad.
    The bread looks super duper delicious! Love the combo of sweet bread and a cheese filling.Brilliant!

  8. Hi,i’am a romanian…and this my mom does’it every Easter…..it’s exactly as i remember…

  9. This sounds like a crazy idea, but it looks so amazing. I am sure it was delicious too! The bread looks so soft and perfect. I really want to take a bite out of that. Making me hungry.
    By the way, sorry about your old mixer. But you got an excuse to buy a new one. Welcome to the kitchenaid mixer club! I just got one a month ago. It is wonderful. I am sure you will love yours too.

  10. Sierra Baker says:

    Hello there. I was curious to know if you were only serving this bread to adults, and decided to be very Central European, would you spike the cream cheese filling with brandy or cognac? If you would how much do you think? Thanks.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Either one sounds good; I would probably either replace the vanilla extract, or add some instead of the milk to the dough. Either way would be great!

Trackbacks

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