A classic sweet bread with custard is perfect for Easter

Yankee Chef logoBy Jim Bailey

T his classic Romanian Easter treat is something we can all enjoy on this special day.

It’s a tender sweet, yeast bread enveloping a sweet and tangy New England-style Grape-nut custard, loaded with raisins and topped with crunchy Grape-nuts. If you can tie a braid, this recipe is for you.

theultimatepascaforeasterNonstick cooking spray
2 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 (.25-ounce) envelope yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm milk
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
3/4 cup skim milk ricotta cheese
1 egg plus 2 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup raisins
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup Grape-nuts

In a large bowl, add warm milk, sugar and yeast, whisking well. Let sit for 10 minutes, or until yeast starts to foam. With a sturdy wooden spoon (or using a dough hook on a standing mixer) stir in flour, melted butter and salt until well-mixed and it leaves the side of the bowl.

Divide the dough into 4 equal-sized balls.

Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan and set aside. Roll out one ball to cover the bottom of the pan. It doesn’t have to be perfectly round, as long as the bottom is entirely covered.*

Lay this dough in the bottom of prepared pan. With the palms of your hands, roll out remaining balls of dough to a 2 1/2-foot long ropes. Place perpendicular to one another and pinch one end of each rope together. Start braiding the ropes and pinch to seal the remaining end. Place on top of the bottom crust in the pan, circling the entire inside, stretching it a little so that the ends meet; pinch each end together. Cover and let rise until double in bulk, about an hour.

When ready, preheat oven to 300-degrees F. In a bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients and pour into the center of the braid, making sure it doesn’t rise over the dough. Bake 38 to 40 minutes, or until custard is firm in the center. Remove from oven, rub some cold butter on top of the braid and let sit until room temperature. Cool in the refrigerator completely before serving.

* The dough can even come up the sides of the pan if needed.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeThe Yankee Chef

About the Author: Jim Bailey is a third generation Yankee Chef, New England food historian and newspaper columnist. His first cookbook, simply titled The Yankee Chef, has been published. He welcomes all feedback, questions or comments at theyankeechef@aol.com.

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