My grandmother made Pashka religiously each Easter. I adore it. The tanginess of the farmers cheese, with citrus, the richness of the butter and eggs added. What completes this is the toasted flaked almonds with gives the dessert a nutty accent.
Traditional Latvian dishes were/are a major part of celebratory occasions like Easter and Christmas with my family. Most of you may of heard of Pashka and immediately think of it as a Russian dish. It is, but it is also a traditional Easter Latvian dish.
Due to the geographical location of Latvia, the cuisine is very influenced by Russia, or is it the other way round? I won’t go into Russian occupation and Latvian history which also would weigh in on the cuisine.
You will see recipes that have candied peel mixed through. I am not a fan of mixed peel at all and it is unceremoniously discarded from my recipe. Instead I am a little more generous with the lemon and orange zest. I have even seen glace cherries added to some recipes. Sorry as far as I am concerned that is sacrilegious.
Pashka is a rich dessert, but has a delicate balance of flavours. You don’t want to make it too tangy with too much citrus zest. You can’t be heavy handed with the almonds or you add too much crunch to the creamy smooth texture.
Traditionally the mix is placed in a Pashka mould to set. Sadly I don’t have one of those, on the hunt though. An alternative is to use a terracotta pot, it works well. I don’t bother with that either. I do what my grandmother did, and from what I read a lot of Russian/Latvian mothers and grandmothers do. I use a mesh strainer lined with muslin, works a treat.
I made half of the recipe this year. As much as I love Pashka, we find it hard with just the three of us, to get through it all with all the other additional Easter treats around. This is why my Pashka is a little ‘flatter’ than it should be in look.
This recipe needs to be started three days before you wish to eat it.
- 750 grams farmers cheese a dense cottage style cheese
- 120 grams butter
- 1/2 cup cream
- 3 egg yolks
- 150 grams caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/4 cup almond flakes toasted
The day before, place two 50cm square pieces of muslin on top of each other. Place your farmers cheese on top in the middle. Gather edges of muslin together until the cheese is a tight ball within. Tie muslin and place in a colander. Place colander over a bowl, place in fridge and leave overnight. This will let any liquid escape.
Heat cream in a saucepan over medium heat until hot, not boiling. Remove from heat. Whisk egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract in a medium bowl until well combined. Pour in hot cream slowly, whisking continuously. Pour mixture back into saucepan and stir over low heat until thick, around 5 minutes. Remove custard mixture from heat and stir until cool.
Beat farmers cheese and butter until well combined and smooth. On a slow speed continue to beat and add the custard mixture, zest and almonds.
Line Pashka mould, terracotta pot or mesh strainer with two layers of muslin cloth. Spoon mixture into selected container and smooth down until flat. Cover top of Pashka with muslin edges. Place plate on top and weigh down with a large heavy can. Leave in fridge for 48 hours.
When ready, remove from muslin and place on serving dish. Serve wedges by themselves or accompanied with fresh berries or almond bread.
Do tell dear Belly Rumbles reader, do you have a favourite traditional Easter dish?