Pascha Cheese

One of the traditional Russian Easter dishes is “syrnaja pascha,” or “Pascha Cheese.” It is a cheesecake like dish which is molded in a special pyramid shaped mold and which is served on slices of kulich, a rich, eggy sweet bread.

You make the Pascha cheese with the farmer’s cheese whose recipe I posted here earlier.

Here is my favorite recipe for Pascha Cheese.

Matushka Irina’s Russian Pascha Recipe

Young girl holding pascha cheese and eggs
Young girl holding pascha cheese and eggs

5 lbs farmers cheese
7 sticks unsalted butter–softened
8 whole eggs
4 egg yolks
1 pint heavy cream
4 cups of sugar
zest of an orange
11/2 piece of vanilla bean scraped

Put the cheese through a sieve
Add all the ingredients and mix
Put in double boiler and with a wooden spoon mix until it looks like
thin farina. Cook until hot—DO NOT BOIL. It will be quite liquid.

Put the pot in the sink and surround with ice. Let cool and mix occasionally. It will firm up.

Wet cheesecloth (or cloth). Put it in your mold. Fill with pascha.
Cover the top of the mold with more cheesecloth.

Now, here opinion divides. The person who gave me the recipe doesn’t use a weight on hers; I put a can of beans on top of mine to hasten the draining process. I guess it’s your choice here. Leave this in the fridge until it firms up.

If you don’t have a pascha mold, a clay pot makes a decent substitute. Because it is, to some degree, cooked, this recipe stays fresh longer than other pascha recipes I’ve tried.

This is what it looks like when it’s in the refrigerator waiting to be opened and served:

Pascha cheese in the refrigerator under weights.
Pascha cheese in the refrigerator under weights.

And this is what the serving dish looks like after people have had some:

Pascha, after.
Pascha, after.

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