Recipe by Romanian Food for Foreigners
Photo source: https://pixabay.com
Time: 5-6 hours (including preparation, proving, and baking)
Servings: 6-8 slices
For the dough:
500g of plain flour
200ml of milk
A pinch of salt
1 packet of dry active yeast
200g of caster sugar
100g of butter, melted
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
For the filling:
500g of fresh cow’s cheese
30g of butter, melted
2 egg, separated
120g of caster sugar
2 tablespoons of sour cream (or thick cream)
Grated zest of one lemon
2 packets of vanilla sugar powder (or use fresh vanilla and add about 15g more sugar)
1 tablespoon of semolina flour
1 tablespoon of plain flour
80g of raisins
A pinch of salt
Preparing the yeast:
1. Warm a little milk, about 50ml, pour it into a coffee cup or glass, and dissolve the yeast in it with a couple of pinches of sugar and leave in a warm place for 15 minutes or so. If the yeast is active it’ll start to foam up on top.
2. Bring the rest of the milk (150ml) to a simmer in a pan and just before it starts to boil stir in 3 tablespoons of the plain flour and keep stirring until the flour has dissolved.
3. Pour the milk/flour mixture into a bowl and leave the milk to cool, and once it has cooled, mix in the hopefully now frothing yeast and milk mixture. Cover the pan with a damp cloth or a loose piece of foil and leave in a warm place until it starts to rise to double its original size, probably about 45 minutes.
Preparing the dough:
4. Separate the egg whites and yolks into two bowls. Beat the yolks with a pinch of salt and step by step mix in the 200g of sugar until you get a smooth pale yellow creamy mixture. Beat the egg whites until fluffy.
5. Pour the rest of the flour into a large mixing bowl, make a well in the center, and add the yeast starter, the yolk mixture, the egg whites, and mix well. Following this, add the oil and the melted butter and mix.
6. Knead the dough for about 20-30 minutes (this is where a spare pair of hands or a mixer comes in handy) and when you have a well-combined dough, which should be more on the soft side, put it into a bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and leave in a warm place for an hour to rise. You really need to knead it quite aggressively, apparently, beating it more than massaging it, and stretching it out, and throwing it back down on the table. This seems to be the trick to getting a nice fluffy end result rather than one that’s rather stodgy in consistency.
Preparing the cake:
7. Once the dough has risen to double its original size (about an hour or so) then you can prepare the pasca by buttering a round deepish cake tin; of about 4-5cm depth and of a diameter of around 20-25cm.
8. Break off about half of the dough and roll it out to the size of the cake tin and about 1cm in thickness. Put it in the baking tray.
9. Break the remaining dough into three equal parts and roll each one into a snake about 80cm long. These can then be braided together and arranged around the inside edge of the cake tin, on top of the previously positioned layer of dough
10. Leave the prepared cake tin and dough covered in a warm place to rise again, for an hour or so.
Preparing the filling:
11. Prepare the filling by first squeezing any excess liquid out of the cow’s cheese. If it’s not completely dry, you might end up with a soggy filling that won’t stick to the bread casing. Then, mix the cow’s cheese together with the egg yolks, melted butter, cream, icing sugar, vanilla sugar, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt.
12. Once these are well combined, beat the egg whites until fluffy and add them, along with the two types of flour. Stir in the raisins but keep a few to one side for sprinkling on top.
13. Put the filling into the center of the dough-lined cake tin (after it has finished proving) and spread it out to the side in an even layer. Sprinkle the rest of the raisins on top.
Cooking the cake:
14. You can beat another egg together and brush the pastry with this, pouring the remaining egg over the top of the cheese mixture to give it some color.
15. Put the assembled cake into a preheated oven (moderate heat – 180-190C/350-360F) and cook until the dough has puffed up nicely and turned a golden brown color, approximately 50-60 minutes, depending on the oven. Check it regularly so as not to let it burn.
16. Leave the cake to cool for 10 minutes and then remove it from the cake tin and serve warm or keep well wrapped up for the next day.