Okay, so there’s not really one specific fandom for this, but after drenching myself in vampire-related fiction and anime this week, I decided I wanted to do something as an homage to the original Dracula.
Wait, no. Not Alucard (though arguably the Hellsing anime DOES connect this badass vampire to the original vampire XD). More along the lines of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, really.
Vlad III the Impaler to be exact.
There were a couple years back when I had this obsession with both Romanian and Hungarian history, particularly during the time of Vlad Tepes’ reign. I pretty much followed and collected a few texts regarding this tumultuous time period in Eastern Europe, when the Ottomans sought to conquer Germanic lands and were repeatedly thwarted by Hungarian, Moldavian, and Romanian armies. The Impaler was certainly one of the figures that cut across as notoriously famous during that time, and most that know him now tend to remember him as being excessively cruel against his enemies. It’s probably why he was quite the inspiration for Stoker’s Dracula (though arguably the whole blood-drinking thing is an old myth in Eastern Europe, and inspiration for that can probably be attributed to a Hungarian countess).
Anyway, after reading a Netgalley ARC and finishing the Hellsing anime, I figured I’d look up a Romanian recipe to try out. At first I thought about something savory and something that could be eaten for dinner. But, then I came across the Romanian Pasca, and I immediately knew I had to bake it, even though it isn’t Easter (and I do recognize the amusing irony in me making a Christian-related dessert as homage to a man who was said to be the “son of the Devil/Dragon”).
From what I read, Pasca is a traditional dessert found in Eastern Europe, often made during Easter. Essentially, the Pasca is considered a form of sweetbread, or panettone (the Italian equivalent), and usually the common ingredients include milk, butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. There are, of course, different ingredients that can be added into the Pasca, and in the case of the Romanian Pasca, ingredients often include sweet cream, sour cream, cheese, and/or rum.
Honestly, I pretty much decided on doing the Romanian Pasca right after I saw the word “rum”. But ya know.
Romanian Sweet Cheese Pasca
I made a great deal of changes and rough conversions in the recipe I used, but here’s the original if anybody’s interested. Below is the altered recipe.
- 2 1/4 cups bread flour
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
- 1 cup lukewarm milk
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pack (7 grams) dry yeast
- 2 tsp rum
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 24 oz. cream cheese (softened)
- 3 eggs
- 2-3 Tbsp sour cream
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup butter (softened)
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup raisins
Making the dough: Beat eggs with sugar and salt. Add rum and vanilla. Let rest around 15-20 minutes. (Technically, the recipe called for rum extract, but why use rum extract when you can use actual rum?!).
Mix dry yeast with bread flour (there’s a difference between fresh yeast and dry yeast, btw, and I used dry yeast). Pour lukewarm milk over the egg-rum-vanilla mixture, and slowly pour whole mixture onto flour. Slowly add the melted butter and knead the dough until it can be separated from hands.
Note: I thought 2 1/4 cups flour was too little; my mixture was still too wet. Because I used rum instead of rum extract, I needed closer to 3 cups of bread flour for my desired consistency.
Cover mixture, put in warm place and wait for dough to double in size.
Making the filling: Mix cream cheese with sugar, butter, and sour cream. Add eggs one by one, then the rest of the filling ingredients. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Grease a deep baking pan and sprinkle with flour. Set a portion of the dough aside for the top, roll the majority evenly and place dough at bottom of the pan. Pour cheese filling on top of the dough (if you don’t want a grand mess, don’t overfill the pan!). Twist/braid the rest of the dough and form a border on top of the cheese filling.
Brush the dough at the top with egg whites (well, I may have forgotten to do this, but it does make for a nicer, more glistening look).
Bake for 50 minutes or until top is golden brown.
Optional: Sprinkle top with confectioner’s sugar. (I preferred not to oversweeten the Pasca, so I opted out of this.)
Verdict: I think I can go with a few more fixes, like actually doing the right conversion on the rum (2 Tbsp, not 2 tsp) for more flavor. Lemon grating was in the original recipe, so I might re-add that. And I might either lessen the baking time to 40-45 minutes, or lessen the temperature to 350 F, since I felt the bread and cheese filling may have been a little overcooked. My brother also suggested NOT “ruining the cheese filling with raisins” and put chocolate chips instead. Food for thought, hmm…
That said, it came out rather delicious, and inside things were still pretty soft! Great with coffee.