Romanian Easter sweet bread with cheese filling – Pască
This type of sweet bread with a cheese and raisins filling is my favorite Easter dessert. It’s incredibly delicious, the soft and fluffy sweet dough combines perfectly with the smooth cheese mixture, filled with raisins and flavored with vanilla and rum essence. Called pască in Romania, this sweet bread is part of the Easter feast, when we love to eat lamb, red eggs, meatloaf called drob, and usually wine.
So many varieties of this sweet bread with cheese filling have appeared on the internet nowadays – some of them completely omit the sweet bread part, while others are made with chocolate cream instead of the original sweet cheese and raisins filling. I must say that I can’t let one Easter celebration pass by without eating the traditional variant of this delicious dessert.
I would have to say that baking this sweet bread with cheese filling was a bit tricky for me – the sweet bread dough is fragile, fluffy and sticky, and the cheese filling is creamy and just a bit liquid, so it’s kind of a challenge to get them to cook perfectly, at the same time, without burning the sweet bread. If your sweet bread looks golden-brown and the cheese filling is still wobbly, don’t take it out of the oven – the cheese won’t set like it would if it was part of a cheesecake.
If your sweet bread dough starts turning too brown, and the cheese isn’t ready yet, just cover everything with aluminium foil while it’s still in the oven – this way, you’ll have a nice-looking sweet bread with cheese filling, without a deep brown crust. Remember to let it cool completely before portioning it.
Even if making this dessert seems a bit more complicated, I love making it at home. In my opinion, you can never compare a homemade dessert with a store-bought one. I love to eat it fresh, and I always make it just the way I like it: flavored with lemon and orange zest, vanilla and rum, with fresh farmer’s cheese, and lots of raisins.
Sweet bread dough
600 g (4 cups) flour
25 g (2.7 teaspoon) fresh yeast
300 ml (1 1/4 cups) warm milk
100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
2 egg yolks
150 g (1 1/4 sticks) butter
Zest from 1 lemon
Zest from 1 orange
A pinch of salt
400 g (1 1/2 cups) cottage cheese/farmer’s cheese/ricotta
80 g (1/3 cup) sugar
20 g (1 1/3 tablespoons) flour
75 g (1/2 cup) raisins
1 teaspoon rum flavoring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk and 2 tablespoons milk for brushing
- In a small bowl, add the yeast, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 3 tablespoons of milk and about 2 tablespoons of flour. Stir until you get a paste-like mixture. Let rise for 10-15 minutes in a warm place.
- In a mixing bowl, sift the flour, then add all the ingredients, including the yeast mixture that you prepared. Don’t add the salt over the yeast mixture – the salt reduces the yeast’s growth rate.
- With a spatula, combine all the ingredients, and then start kneading the dough. You can knead it by hand, or with a special kneading mixer attachment. The process should take about 20 minutes – you should get a smooth, slightly sticky dough.
- After kneading the dough, cover with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature until doubled in volume. It should take about 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, make the cheese filling: add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl and stir to combine.
- Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F).
- When the dough is risen, divide it in 2.
- Take one piece and place it in a 28 cm (11 inch), buttered springform pan topped with parchment paper, then press it with your fingers until it covers the entire bottom of the pan.
- Divide the other half of the dough in 2, and form two thin ropes, about 50 cm (1.6 feet) long.
- Braid the two ropes and form a sealed circle, the same size as your springform, then place the braided circle in the pan.
- Pour the cheese filling in the middle of the braided dough.
- Beat the egg yolk, mix it with milk, then brush the sweet bread with this mixture.
- Bake the sweet bread with cheese filling at 160°C (320°F) for about 40-50 minutes, until the cheese is set and the sweet bread dough is golden-brown.
- Let cool completely before slicing it.