Romanian Easter bread – Pasca

Pasca – Romanian Easter Bread. Sweet, soft, enriched yeast bread baked in a springform with a cheese filling inside

Pasca - Romanian Easter Bread from Roxanashomebaking.com Sweet, soft, enriched yeast bread baked in a springform with a cheese filling inside

Pasca – Romanian Easter Bread – sweet, soft, enriched yeast bread baked in a springform with a cheese filling inside

After 7 weeks of fasting (abstinence from any kind of food derived from animals)  with Good Friday being the absolute fast (we’re not allowed to eat or drink anything the entire day) comes Easter, one of the two most celebrated Greek Orthodox religious holidays. The other one is Christmas.

My Grandma is a very religious person. She follows every single tradition. She would dye the eggs on Thursday, get ready for the absolute fast and day long service on good Friday and make most of the meals and sometimes even bake the bread on Saturday.

Sunday morning we’re get up very early, put on the clothes specially bought for Easter, wash out face with cold water from a basin in which my grandma placed a couple of red eggs, to make our cheeks red, according to the tradition, and get ready for the Sunday service followed by almsgiving.

Pasca - Romanian Easter Bread from Roxanashomebaking.com Sweet, soft, enriched yeast bread baked in a springform with a cheese filling inside

“Christ is Risen” and “Truly, He is Risen” are the most said and heard words during Easter day. It’s the greeting and the prayer before meal time.

Meal time it’s always a feast on Easter day. From simple appetizers, soup, main dishes to desserts.

In some parts of the country a simple Easter bread is made. It other parts “pasca” it’s the Easter bread.

Pasca it’s a sweet, soft, yeast braided bread baked in a 10 inch springform filled with a cheese mixture. Like a cheesecake in a bread.

It took me some practice to get it right but I’m very happy with the results, the only thing I would change is using maybe ricotta or cream cheese instead of farmer’s cheese, for a creamier, smooth filling. Other than that, it’s my favorite part of the Easter menu.

Pasca - Romanian Easter Bread from Roxanashomebaking.com Sweet, soft, enriched yeast bread baked in a springform with a cheese filling inside

 

Romanian Easter bread – Pasca

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 5 hours

Yield: One round Pasca

Romanian Easter bread – Pasca

Pasca - Romanian Easter Bread - sweet, soft, enriched yeast bread baked in a springform with a cheese filling inside.

Ingredients

    Bread dough
  • 1 cup (120 grams) bread flour (I used Pillsbury)
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 2 tsp dry yeast (i used Red Star)
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) bread flour
  • 1/4 cup (56 grams) melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup (100 garms) sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (360 grams) bread flour
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil (you could use vegetable oil as well)
  • 1 tbsp of milk, if needed
  • Cheese filling
  • 1 cup ricotta/cream cheese/farmers cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup powder sugar
  • few drops of vanilla extract/lemon extract/rum extract - whatever you prefer
  • lemon zest (optional)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 tbsp honey + few drops of milk for brushing

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl add 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of lukewarm milk and 2 tsp of dry yeast. Stir to combine. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of flour on top and leave at room temperature for 10-15 minutes until the mixture increases in volume and the flour on top is cracked.
  2. With the dough hook on, add the melted butter, egg, sugar, vanilla extract, salt and slowly start adding the remaining 3 cups of flour until it's all incorporated.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, keep mixing, slowly pouring the 1/4 cup of oil.
  4. When all the oil is added the dough should be smooth and elastic.
  5. I made it several times to make sure I got it right and one time it felt a little "dry" so I added few more drops of milk until it became soft and elastic.
  6. Place the dough in a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until doubled in volume. Should be around 2 hours.
  7. When the dough is risen, divide the dough in 4.
  8. Take one piece and roll it out in a 10 inch circle. Place it on the bottom of a well buttered 10 inch springform.
  9. The remaining three pieces shape them in thing ropes, about 3 feet long each.
  10. Braid them and gently place them in the springform pan, braiding the ends together to form a sealed circle.
  11. Cover and let rise for another 40 minutes.
  12. In the meantime heat the oven to 375F and make the cheese filling.
  13. In a mixing bowl add the cheese, eggs, sugar, raisins, vanilla exact and lemon zest if using. Stir to combine.
  14. Pour the cheese filling in the middle of the braided circle and bake for 15 minutes at 375F.
  15. Without opening the oven door, lower the oven temperature to 325F and bake for 45 more minutes, or until the crust is deep brown (it's not burned, the high amount of sugar gives it the brown color) and the aroma takes over the kitchen.
  16. Let cool completely.
  17. Just before serving brush it with honey mixed with few drops of milk.
  18. Slice and enjoy!
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Linking this Romanian Easter Bread to Bake Your Own Bread and Twelve Loaves

If you like this Romanian Easter bread you may also like

Romanian Swirl Bread

Romanian Christmas bread 

 

Sending love your way,

Roxana

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    Hello! My name is Roxana and I'm a self-taught baker, wanna-be photographer and the writer behind Roxana's Home Baking, where I share original and adapted scratch recipes. 

Here you'll find no fuss, no hassle easy recipes with ingredients you most likely already have in your kitchen.  Read more ....

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Comments

  1. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef says

    Lovely Easter story and I love this bread. Not only is it beautiful to look at, the recipe is calling me all the way over here. :)

  2. The Contessa (Linda) says

    Beautiful. Sunday can’t come fast enough for me. You have the most beautiful pictures.

    Linda

  3. Kayle (The Cooking Actress) says

    I tried to abstain from eating all Good Friday a couple years ago…
    um…
    I fainted.

    Apparently I very much need to eat lol. Anywayyyy I love this bread-yum yum yum!

  4. Susan P says

    Under the number 1. instruction you say “Sprinkle 1/2 cup of top” ….. what does this mean? Would love to try this for Easter. It looks yummy!

  5. Regina @ SpecialtyCakeCreations says

    I also grew up with Pasca as Easter tradition. But I am not familiar with the cheese filling in the center. Maybe that is different in Russian tradition. A lot of what you describe sounds like the Russian Easter traditions we grew up with :)

  6. Lisatu says

    Sooo making this. My husband is for Rep. of Moldova so grew up with pretty much the same traditions as you did. Its not easter in Moldova yet but it is here in Ireland so ill be making this for when his cousin and family and my brother in-law come to visit this weekend.

  7. says

    Love your families tradition. I usually make a traditional braided bread with the eggs, but I’d much rather have a cream cheese filling. I hope I have some time Saturday to get one baked. Wishing you and your family a wonderful Easter.
    -Gina-

  8. Anita at Hungry Couple says

    What interesting traditions. Thank you for sharing them with us. The bread looks so delicious!!

  9. Lora @cakeduchess says

    It’s so sweet to read about Easter memories and your grandmother. Your pasca is so tantalizing, Roxy. That cheesy filling is incredible. I think I would try it with the farmer’s cheese and also ricotta…I would be happy with either cheesy version. Thanks for baking with #TwelveLoaves this month!xx

  10. Nick says

    45 more minutes till it comes out. This was fun to make. Instead of raisin I added spinach and mushrooms. Used less sugar in the bread, but added 1/4 cup honey. Also a 1/2 tsp salt to the center mix with half as much powder sugar with more honey, and cream cheese and cheddar. Looking for that salt/sugar balance. Hope this wasn’t a complete slaughter to your recipe!

    Thanks for the idea!

  11. Livia says

    Thank you for this recipe, I am trying it now :) it sounds exactly like what my aunt was making when I was a kid in Romania. I just stumbled across your blog, and I love it!

  12. Katie says

    If you made this on Saturday before Easter, would you refrigerate it? Or leave it out until Sunday dinner?

    • says

      Hi Katie,
      I would cover it with plastic wrap and keep it in the refrigerator, at least overnight. You can leave it out Sunday, during the day.

  13. Chris says

    This bread looks beautiful. I am making it now. There has been no increase in the volume of yeast mixed with milk and flour (step 1). Any advice? My milk was lukewarm/room temp. Oh dear. I don’t want to go to market for more yeast. I have one packet left.

    • says

      Hi Chris,
      It takes a couple of minutes, 5-10 minutes for the yeast to work when mixed with flour.
      There are two main reasons that may prevent the yeast to work :
      – the temperature of the water. too hot and it will kill the yeast, too cold and the yeast will not come to life
      – the expiration date for the yeast.

      Hope you make it work. Let me know if you have other questions

      • Chris says

        It worked. It took a bit longer, about 5 minutes…. Yeast was not expired, water was not too hot, Thanks for your reply.

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