Easter Pască – Easter is just a week away in Romania, and many of us have already started planning some serious baking for the occasion. The tradition is that all the baking must be done on Thursday, and the aroma of warm butter, sugar, and vanilla fills the air as people prepare their Easter treats. No work is allowed on Good Friday, and Saturday is reserved for cleaning the house in preparation for Easter Eve. My mother used to make Pască on Saturday instead of Thursday so that the cake, filled with cheese and eggs, wouldn’t sit around for too long. Many people do the same, and you’ll get a second wave of seductive baking aromas whetting the appetite and announcing the imminent celebrations. 
For me, a slice of Pască was the perfect way to break the fast at midnight, and it was also my breakfast on Sunday morning and dessert at lunchtime. It’s a delicious traditional cake, and Easter wouldn’t be the same without it. 
 
In fact, it was the recipe that inspired me to write a book about Romanian cuisine many years ago. You can find a version of the recipe in my first book, Carpathia, but I’m sharing a slightly different version here for those of you who would like to try it. If you do, please take a photo and tag me – seeing your version would mean the world.
 

Dough:

300g bread flour

40g caster sugar

10g yeast

165g full fat milk

2 egg yolks

pinch of salt

70g melted butter

Filling

200g ricotta

150g sour cream

25g caster sugar

2 egg yolks

zest from 1 large lemon

vanilla extract

75g sultanas soaked in 75ml warm rum for 30 min, then drained (optional)

For baking:

1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tsp milk
Serve (optional): roasted grapes

 

Method:

To make the brioche dough, put the flour, sugar, yeast, milk and yolks into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Knead on a medium speed until the dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl. Add a third of the melted butter and knead until it is incorporated well, then repeat with the rest.  Cover the bowl and leave to rise for 11⁄2 hours in a warm place, at around 2122°C (7072°F).

To make the filling, combine all the ingredients together. Grease a 25cm (10in) pastry ring or springform tin with the base removed, and place it onto a non-stick baking tray lined with baking paper.

Divide the dough into 2 pieces, and roll one half to the size of the springform ring. Place it inside the ring, making sure the dough touches the sides. Divide the remaining half of the dough into 2 pieces. Roll into two ropes, long enough to go around the inside of the ring. Twist them together and place them inside the ring or tin, creating a beautiful border around the sides.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5. Brush the border with the egg wash, then pour in the filling. Bake for 2530 minutes on a lower rack until the filling is soft and wobbly in the middle. If the dough becomes too dark, cover with foil. When ready, remove from the oven, lift the pastry ring and transfer the cake onto a wire rack to cool.