Sweet Cottage Cheese Pastries “Branzoaice”

Growing up in Transylvania (Romania), weekends used to be dedicated to baking and of course eating. My mom used to bake all the time, all kinds of cakes and pastries. My sister and I were addicted to anything sweet and were always willing to offer a hand to speed up the process :). Sometimes, I can just think of a certain dessert and feel that I’m in my mom’s kitchen, eating and laughing with my family. And the smell is surreal…It’s amazing how our brain can bring back memories that feel so alive and tangible.

This Victoria Day long weekend, I’ve decided to make “Branzoaice”, a Romanian pastry made with farmer’s cottage cheese and raisins. “Branzoaice” comes from “branza” which means “cheese”, so the literal translation is something like “made from cottage cheese”. Traditionally, they’re eaten during Pies’ Saturday (Sambata Placintelor), the last Saturday before the Easter Fast. In any case, they make a great dessert/brunch idea. Simply irresistible…Bon appetit!

For the dough:
500 g all-purpose flour
1 egg
200 ml milk – at room temperature
75 g butter (melted)
1 t pure vanilla extract
4 T sugar
2 t yeast (I used quick rise)
lemon zest from 1 lemon

Step 1: Mix ingredients together  (except butter) in a bread machine or mixer. At the end, add in the melted butter and mix well. Add more milk if the dough feels too dry. Let it rise for 30 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the filling.

For the filling:
250 g sweet cottage cheese (farmer/pressed style)
1 egg
5 T sugar (or more to taste)
handful of raisins

Step 2: In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together, add more sugar if necessary.

Step 3: Preheat the oven at 360F. Transfer the dough on a well floured board or countertop. Spread the dough in 2 cm thick layers. Cut 10-12 cm squares. Fill each square with a bit of filling and fold it; brush over beaten egg. Transfer the squares to a parchment-lined baking sheet and let rise for another 15 minutes or so. Place in the oven and bake for approx. 40 minutes or until golden.

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