cheeseclothclay flower pot or paska mold
2 lb dry curdor farmers’ cheese
5 lg Egg Yolks
2 ¾ cups confectioner's sugar
1 c heavy cream
½ c coarsely chopped almonds
½ c golden raisins
1 c candied citronchopped
2 t vanilla
½ lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butterwhipped
Easter Paska is a work of art especially produced for the blessing of the basked of foods at church. Paska is made with eggs, butter, and other good things that go to make a fine, rich loaf, appropriate for the importance of occasion. In the old days, paska were not the round baking-pan-sized breads that now conveniently fit into our delicate Easter baskets. They were carried — or taken by wagon — to church wrapped in large khustyny (shawls) and could be the size of wagon wheels. The dough is baked in the shape of symbols for the top of the paska, including the cross, flowers, shyshky (pine cones), birds, rams horns and other curlicues, wheat stalks, and other motifs — depending on regional and personal preferences. It takes great skill to mold the ornaments out of the rich dough, (usually a stiffer dough is used for the top) so they are recognizable — let alone presentable in church — after they are baked.
Prep time: 20 mins; Cook time: 20 mins;
How to Make Easter Cheese Paska:
- Pass the farmers’ cheese through a sieve or a food mill and set aside.
- In the top of a double boiler, mix egg yolks with the sugar. Add the cream and heat over barely simmering water, stirring constantly, until bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Don’t overheat or the eggs will curdle.
- Remove from the heat and add the cheese, almonds, raisins, citron and vanilla, and mix well. Add the butter and continue stirring until the mixture cools. This long stirring gives the paska a smooth and velvety texture.
- Line a paska mold or clay flower pot with a double thickness of dampened cheesecloth.
- Pour the mixture in and cover with a double thickness of dampened cheesecloth. Place the lid or a small plate on top to weigh it down. Place a bowl under the mold to catch any runoff and refrigerate for 24 hours.
- Unmold onto a serving plate and decorate with almonds, glazed cherries, candied citron, mint leaves, etc. if desired. Cut into thin slices when serving, as this is very rich.