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Romanian Sweet Cheese Pies – Branzoaice

Sweet Cheese Pie, Branzoaice or Poale-n Brau: Romanian sweet cheese pie recipe with cottage cheese and raisins.

Romanian Sweet Cheese Pies – Branzoaice

What are Branzoaice?

Like the Moldavian Yeast Pastries – Mucenici and the Romanian Cheese Pie, these Branzoaice or Romanian Sweet Cheese Pies are a staple in the Moldavian or Moldovan cuisine. They are utterly anchored in the Moldavian food tradition, but so good that just about anybody in Romania knows them.

The names of these cheese pies are rather strange: Branzoaice, roughly translated Cheesies or Poale-n Brau, roughly translated – Laps in the girdle. While the name Cheesies is rather obvious, I could not understand why the second name.

It originates in a habit that peasant women in Moldova had of stuffing the corners of their aprons in the girdle to make sure that it wouldn’t get in the way while they washed or worked in the house. I suppose this kind of folding and stuffing the apron was somewhat similar to the way of folding the pastries. So now you know and I do too. 🙂

Romanian Sweet Cheese Pies – Branzoaice

What do you need?

The common yeast dough ingredients:

  • Flour, yeast, sugar, milk, eggs, vegetable oil, and salt.
  • You can use either a cube (42 g/ 1.5 oz) of fresh yeast or 30 g/ 1 oz/ 2 tablespoons active dry yeast.

For the filling, you will need cottage cheese, raisins, semolina, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt.

Cheese:

  • Originally, the pastries were made with branza de burduf, a typical Romanian cheese which is rather salty and has a very strong taste. The cheese was sweetened with raisins and sugar.
  • Modern versions of these pies are made with the Romanian branza de vaci. This kind of cheese is mild, making the pies more delicate in taste and texture.
  • I chose cottage cheese as the main ingredient for the pastries because I find that to be quite similar to the Romanian intended cheese.
Romanian Sweet Cheese Pies – Branzoaice

How to make Romanian sweet cheese pie?

Place the cottage cheese in a fine-mesh sieve and let drain for several hours.

Yeast dough:

  • Working with yeast is not difficult, especially if you have a food processor, which can knead the dough for you. Making yeast dough without the food processor is easy as well, but it requires a bit more physical work on your side and a bit more dedication.
  • Sift the flour in a large bowl or in the bowl of the food processor. Crumble the fresh yeast on top or sprinkle the active dry yeast. Add a little milk and sugar and let get frothy for about 15 minutes.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and knead well.
  • Let rise, covered, in a warm place for about 1 hour.
  • If the kitchen is not warm enough, I place the bowl in the oven and turn on the oven lights, just the lights and NOT the oven.

Filling:

  • Mix the drained cheese with the rest of the ingredients (except the egg needed for brushing).

Savory alternative: fill the pastries with crumbled feta cheese. Add a little salt and pepper and some chopped dill, if you like.

bowl of yeast dough and small bowl with sweet cheese filling

Form the pies:

  • Roll the dough into a large rectangle about 3-4 mm/0.11-0.15 inches thick.
  • Divide it into 16 smaller squares. Divide the filling between the squares, about 1-2 teaspoons into each square.
  • Brush lightly the edges of the pies around the filling.
  • Take two opposite corners of the pastry and press them well together, in the middle, with your fingers.
  • Take the other two opposite corners and press them well with your fingers as well. Press along the lines that are formed as well, to close the pockets. They should look more or less like an envelope.
  • Press the corners of the pastry very thoroughly together to make sure that the pies are properly sealed. Otherwise, they will open during the baking process and although they will taste just as delicious if opened, they will not look so pretty anymore.
  • Brush the pastries with the beaten egg all over and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until deeply golden brown.
filling and shaping sweet cheese pies
Romanian Sweet Cheese Pies – Branzoaice

More Romanian pastries:

Mucenici – yeast pastries with walnuts and honey

Cremeschnitte – Puff pastry filled with vanilla custard

Cozonac – Romanian sweet bread

Romanian Apple Pie

Romanian Lemon Cake – Alba ca Zapada or Snow White

branzoaice or romanian sweet cheese pie in a small basket

Romanian Sweet Cheese Pies – Branzoaice

Yield: 16
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Sweet Cheese Pie, Branzoaice or Poale-n Brau: this is a Romanian sweet cheese pie recipe made with cottage cheese and raisins.

Ingredients

  • Yeast dough:
  • 450 g/ 15.9 oz/ 3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 42 g/ 1.5 g fresh yeast OR 30 g/ 1 oz/ 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 200 ml/ 6.7 fl.oz/ scant 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Filling:
  • 500 g/ 17.6 oz/ 2 ¼ cups cottage cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 150 g/ 5.3 oz/ ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • a pinch of salt
  • 100 g/ 3.5 oz/ ½ cup raisins
  • 65 g/ 2.4 oz/ 1/3 cup semolina
  • 1 small egg for brushing
  • icing sugar

Instructions

  1. Start by draining the cottage cheese in a fine-mesh sieve thoroughly, for about 3 hours.



Yeast dough:

  1. Sieve the flour in a large bowl or in the bowl of your food processor. Make some space in the middle, crumble the fresh yeast or sprinkle the active dry yeast in there, add 2 tablespoons of the lukewarm milk, and 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Let rest for about 15-20 minutes until quite frothy.
  2. Add the rest of the lukewarm milk, 2 eggs, the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, and the salt. Mix well and add the vegetable oil.
  3. Knead well with the food processor until the dough is elastic and doesn't stick anymore, but keep in mind that the dough should be soft. If you knead the dough by hand, you might have to add a little bit of extra flour when kneading, but don't overdo it, the dough should remain soft.
  4. Form a ball and let it rise in an oiled bowl for 1 hour, covered with a clean kitchen cloth and in a warm place. I usually place the bowl in the oven and turn the oven light on. Just the oven light, not the oven itself! The dough should have more than doubled its size by the end of one hour.



Filling:

  1. Place the drained cottage cheese into a bowl. Add the lightly beaten egg, sugar, vanilla extract, lemon zest, salt, raisins, and semolina and mix well.



Form:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/ 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Roll the dough into a large rectangle about 3-4 mm/0.11-0.15 inches thick. Divide it into 16 smaller squares. Divide the filling between the squares, about 1-2 teaspoons into each square.
  3. Beat the egg needed for brushing the pies in a small bowl. Lightly brush the free edges of the pies around the filling.
  4. Take two opposite corners of the pastry and press them well together, in the middle, with your fingers. Take the other two opposite corners and press them well with your fingers as well. Press along the lines that are formed as well, so that the pastries are closed. Make sure that the pockets are really well sealed so that they will not open in the oven.
  5. Brush the pastries with the beaten egg all over and bake them for about 15-20 minutes or until deeply golden brown.
  6. Let cool slightly, dust with icing sugar, and enjoy warm or cooled.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1 sweet cheese pie
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 274Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 50mgSodium: 214mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 2gSugar: 17gProtein: 10g

Nutritional information is not always accurate.

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Dana J

Monday 30th of November 2020

Oh, ok. Mulțumesc. Cred ca de aia tu poți folosi cottage cheese și eu nu. Este diferită cred ca in Europa.... Cream cheese... nu... chiar nu văd la branzoaice. Stii, la noi cottage cheese este foarte populară și sunt multe firme diferite, fiecare cu stilul lor și majoritatea sunt regionale. De aia te-am întrebat unde locuiești. Mersi mult oricum! 🤗

Dana J.

Friday 27th of November 2020

Adina tu unde locuiești? Te întreb doar pentru ca eu chiar nu as folosi cottage cheese ce este pe aici pe la mine. E cam sarata și parca nu știu cum.... Când am avut acces la lapte nepasteurizat am făcut eu brânza de vaca sau farmer’s cheese cum văd ca e prin zona asta. Când am locuit in Detroit area am găsit la magazinele poloneze cel mai des brânza dulce de multe feluri, mai grasa, mai puțin grasa. Acum unde locuiesc nu am acces la asta și o perioada a fost ok ca aveam precum am spus lapte nepasteurizat. Am făcut branzoaice cu ricotta de câteva ori și recunosc ca e dificil pentru ca e cam apoasa și după ce am stors-o de zăr. Se întărește ea la gătit de la ou și așa doar ca e mai dificil de umplut pachețelul de aluat fără sa cam curgă din el. De aia te întrebam unde ești ca poate îmi dai tu un pont cu brânza. Deci eu folosesc ricotta cu mult succes in alte aplicații și am folosit-o și la branzoaice trandafir pentru ca e mai ușor sa o ții pe loc sa zic așa. 😁 Branzoaicelw tale arată absolut delicios!!!!

Adina

Saturday 28th of November 2020

Ceau Dana. Eu locuiesc in Germania. Cottage cheese aici nu e foarte sarata, cred ca are un pic de sare in ea, dar nu suficient incat sa ii simti gustul, e cam bland. Cumpar si eu des in magazinele rusesti si poloneze - twarog - ca e mai fina si mai apropiata de branza noastra. Ricotta nu folosesc des pentru ca nu imi place in mod deosebit. Dar cu cottage normala nu am avut niciodata probleme. I had people reporting that they've successfully used cream cheese, but I've never tried that.

mjskitchen

Wednesday 18th of November 2020

You should sell these. I'll place an order for 2 batches right now. :)

Jane

Wednesday 18th of November 2020

Hi! I am Norwegian,living with a romanian barbat in Spain. His sister sent us some of these and they are delicious! I am so happy that i came across your blog, because like in Germany, we can not get a hold of the cheese here. I love papanași and i am gonna try to make both these and the boiled papanași. I have made cozonac often and that too is just so good!

Adina

Thursday 19th of November 2020

Hi Jane. So nice to read your comment. I hope you like the papanasi, we all love them!

Gainuta Rotaru

Wednesday 21st of November 2018

The Poale in brau name is not because the farmer did this to stay clean it’s rather the technique in which you fold the dough to make the form of the Pastry . You fold the corners in the middle

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