Paskha or Pascha is a festal dish made in Eastern Orthodox countries of those foods which are forbidden during the fast of Great Lent. It is made during Holy Week and then brought to church on Great Saturday to be blessed after the Paschal Vigil. The name of the dish comes from Pascha, the Eastern Orthodox celebration of Easter.
Paskha is a traditional Easter dish made from tvorog (farmer’s cheese, cottage cheese, etc.), which is white, symbolizing the purity of Christ, the Paschal Lamb, and the joy of the Resurrection.
In the Russian Orthodox tradition, paskha is usually molded in the form of a truncated pyramid (a symbol of the Church; also said to represent the Tomb of Christ). It is traditionally made in a wooden mould assembly called пасочница (pasotchnitza) that can be taken apart for cleaning; but more modern materials, such as plastics, are used nowadays.
Our more contemporary version is presented in bowls like a pudding.
The pascha is decorated with traditional religious symbols, such as the “Chi Ro” motif, a three-bar cross, the letters X and B (Cyrillic letters standing for Христосъ Воскресe which is the Slavonic form of the traditional Paschal greeting: “Christ is Risen!”), eggs, and a lance, all symbolizing Christ’s Passion and Resurrection.
- 2 8-ounce tubs cottage cheese
- 1 pound fresh ricotta
- 2 ounces chopped glacé cherries
- 2 ounces sultanas
- 2 Tablespoons brandy
- 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
- 3 Tablespoons honey
- 2 hardboiled eggs (yolks only)
- 2 Tablespoons melted butter
- 5 fluid ounces cream, whipped
- 2 Tablespoons candied peel
- Tip the cottage cheese and ricotta into a large sieve lined with dampened cheesecloth, stand the sieve over a bowl, cover it with cling film or a cloth and put the bowl in the fridge to drain for at least two hours. Put the chopped cherries and sultanas into a small bowl, pour on the brandy and leave them to soak while the cheese is draining.
- When the cheeses have drained, tip them into a large bowl, beat them together, then stir in the sugar and honey. Add the crumbled egg yolks, melted butter, cherries and sultanas and the brandy they were soaked in, and mix it all together well. Fold in the whipped cream, divide the mixture between eight small glass dishes and use the candied peel to make the letters XB on the tops. Chill until really cold and serve with some sponge fingers.
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