In Finland, both Lutherans and Greek Catholics celebrate Easter on the same day, and this year that day was this past Sunday, April 1. But Russian Orthodox Easter will be celebrated this coming Sunday, April 8.
No Orthodox Easter meal, whether in Finland or Russia, would be complete without pasha (in Russian, пасха; the same word also enotes the holiday itself). To my mind, it is the most delicious sweet treat I have ever tasted, and it is all the better that purists, like my boon companion, make it only once a year for serving on Easter Day itself and finishing off in the days following Christianity’s most important feast day.
My sweetheart makes pasha the old-fashioned Russian way, which takes a few days. First, she makes Russian творог (quark, curd, cottage cheese, farmer cheese) from fresh milk before mixing the homemade curd with the other ingredients and pouring the thick liquidy mixture thus produced into traditional wooden molds, lined with gauze.
The molds are turned upside down and drained for 24 hours before being placed in the refrigerator to set up. On Easter Day, the molds and gauze lining their insides are carefully removed, revealing tiny pyramid-like mounds of pasha in all their delectable glory, impressed with the Cyrillic letters ХВ (standing for Христов воскрес! or “Christ has risen!) on one side, and the Orthodox cross on the opposite side.
The recipe I have translated, below, is a quick, easy Finnish variation on its hardcore, time-consuming Russian cousin.
One year, my true love and I found ourself celebrating Easter in Finland. We brought our wooden molds along with us, but we used a Finnish recipe much like this one, whose mainstay is the Finnish variety of quark/farmer cheese/curd/tvorog, known as rakha. Rakha can be bought readymade and packaged in any grocery store. As we discovered, it makes an excellent pasha, and is generally less watery than tvorog, homemade or bought at the market, meaning it drains and sets up more quickly, and is thus much less of a hassle to work with.
Make sure to watch the video, below the recipe, for a great tip on how to turn your pasha into a pyramid with using the Russian wooden molds.
- 100 g creamery butter
- 1 dl sugar
- 2 packages (250 g each) quark
- 2 dl whipping cream (double cream)
- 1 egg
- fresh-squeezed juice of half an orange
- 2 tsp vanilla sugar
- 1/2 dl chopped almonds
- 1/2 dl raisins
- 1/2 dl succade (chopped bits of candied fruit)
- Whip the cream. Whip the butter and sugar until frothy. Add the quark, eggs, flavorings, and whipped cream. Pour the quark mixture into a gauze-lined pasha mold or colander to drain. You can also used a coffee filter lined with filter paper. Let the mixture drain in a cool place (i.e., a refrigerator) overnight.
- Flip the pasha over the next day onto a serving dish and garnish with slices of fresh fruit if desired. Serve as a dessert or at coffee time with other Easter goodies.
Source: K-ruoka.fi. Translated by Living in FIN