Pasca – Romanian Brioche Bread

by Barry Lewis

Prep time
60 mins
Bake time
50 mins


Yeast dough

1.5tsp vanilla extract

2600ml milk

7g fast action yeast, sachet

500g plain flour

130g caster sugar

50g butter

55ml Veg oil

2 egg yolks

1 Lemon, zest only


400g Cottage cheese (blended with an electric whisk to smooth a little)

2 eggs

4tbsp granulated sugar, plus more to sprinkle on top

100 g raisins 3.5 oz/ ½ cup

3tbsp semolina

1tsp vanilla extract

1 Lemon, zest only

To garnish

1 beaten egg, to brush

Extra sugar to sprinkle on top

This recipe for a ‘Pasca’ is really fun and tasty – it originates in Romania and is a very popular dish over there at Easter time. It’s a sort of cross between a braided brioche cake, cheesecake and bread with a cream cheese filling in the middle. If you can get the Romanian cheese ‘branza de vaci’ for complete authenticity apparently that’s best, but whizzed up cottage cheese will do, I don’t normally like cream cheese but the lemon and sugar (of which you can add more to taste) really helped balance it out! Good luck if you try it, it’s really fun to have a go at!

My alternative to this was attempting a ‘coznac’ but this reminded me of a babka which i’ve made before and is very tasty!

How to make a Pasca

First up we make the dough, which can be done in advance if you like too. Warm the milk in the microwave with the vanilla extract until just lukewarm, mix 4tbsp of this warmed milk with the yeast, 2tbsp of the flour, 1tbsp of the sugar, mix well, cover and place in a warm area for 20 minutes. With your remaining milk and sugar, mix this together with the butter and oil, stir to fully mix and leave to cool.

In a large bowl add the plain flour, tip on the yeast mixture after it’s rested / risen, add the egg yolks, a touch more vanilla (optional), plus the lemon zest. Mix it adding the milk mixture in small batches stirring as you go, it’ll be dry at first, keep adding it slowly, until fully added, you want it to be smooth and not dry, add a little more milk or water a tbsp at a time if it’s too dry, knead until smooth in the bowl for a good 5 minutes, flouring hands minimally so it doesn’t stick to you, it is a sticky dough.

Place into a new oiled bowl that’s been greased lightly and cover with cling film. Take to a warm place to rise for about 45mins or so, it should double in size before moving ahead.

You can make the filling and keep it in the fridge whilst you are waiting. Basically mix all of the ingredients for the filling together in a large bowl, cover with cling film once well mixed and place in the fridge. It’s at this point you can taste the filling and add more lemon / sugar if you want.

Line and grease a 10inch springform tin, divide the risen dough in two even pieces. The first one, use lightly oiled hands to press into the bottom of the pan. The other half, divide into 3 long longs – the recipe video shows this step well if you like. Make a braid using the 3 long pieces of dough, bringing from the outside over the middle piece alternating side to side, lift up into the pan to create a braided circle, push the prepared cottage cheese filling into the centre of the tin pushing back the brioche if needed. This is quite a cool thing to do, take your time and get the braid right with enough room for the filling.

Egg wash it and sprinkle with sugar, then bake at an oven pre-heated to 160fan/180c/350f for approximately 45 minutes until golden brown. It’s best to allow it to cool first before slicing for a nice even slice through but it’s your call and is quite tasty still warmed, but chilled was also very good! My top tip would be to make sure you are happy with how your filling tastes before baking – good luck!