Pashka

Pashka

By
From
How I cook
Serves
10-12
Photographer
Jason Lowe

Originating in Russia, this romantic, beautiful and unusual dessert has a sense of occasion. Studded with candied peel, raisins and almonds, the sweet curd cheese mixture is rich without question, but not heavy. To me, it feels like Christmas, without taking away from the more traditional plum pudding that is to follow the next day. Making pashka is a fairly lengthy process, but worth the effort, which always seems appropriate in the festive season. Here I've concealed the filling for a pure, clean appearance and to give guests a surprise. I have served it with very ripe persimmon, but pashka is also lovely just as it is.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
900g soft curd cheese
6 organic free-range large eggs
300g unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
250ml double cream
1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways
50g raisins
1 tablespoon vodka
25g blanched almonds, chopped
50g good-quality candied peel
1 lemon, grated zest
1 orange, grated zest

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
1 ripe persimmon, cut into fine wedges, or candied fruit

Method

  1. Allow the curd cheese, eggs and butter to stand for an hour at room temperature; if the cheese is very moist, place it in a colander to drain.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the curd cheese for 5 minutes until smooth. Break the eggs into a separate bowl and beat, using a hand-held whisk, until thick and pale gold, then add the sugar and beat once again until well combined. Pour the cream into a saucepan and just bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. With the electric mixer on its lowest setting, beat the egg mixture into the curd cheese, then slowly incorporate the warm cream, keeping the mixture smooth. Transfer the mixture to a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bowl is not in direct contact with the water. Add the vanilla pod and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 40 minutes until the mixture thickens substantially.
  4. Meanwhile, soak the raisins in the vodka for 15 minutes or so.
  5. Strain the curd cheese mixture in batches through a sieve into a clean bowl, rubbing it through with a firm spatula. Transfer one third to a separate bowl. Stir the raisins, almonds, candied peel and the citrus zests into the rest of the mixture. Cover both bowls and chill well for 1–2 hours.
  6. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft, then fold into the chilled curd mixture until evenly blended.
  7. Line a 1.7–2 litre mould with muslin, allowing enough overhang to cover the top. Spoon in the plain curd cheese mixture to cover the bottom and sides, then spoon the rest into the middle. Fold the muslin over the top to enclose. Place in the fridge to chill for 12 hours before serving.
  8. To unmould the pashka, draw back the muslin from the surface, place a serving dish over the top and invert. Peel off the muslin gently and leave to stand for an hour in a cool place before serving. Top with wedges of ripe persimmon – or slices of home-made candied fruit.

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