Here’s an uncooked Russian cheese cake which is made to celebrate Easter (Paskha) at the end of Lent. It is traditionally made in a pyramid mould, symbolising the Church, and marked with the Orthodox cross. The Paskha cake is blessed in church before being eaten. It certainly breaks the Lenten fast in an unabashed and flamboyant fashion.
Serves 8 to 10
90g butter, at room temperature
600g cream cheese
175g Greek yoghurt
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons maple syrup or fragrant honey
90g dried pineapple, finely chopped
90g dried apricots, finely chopped
45g blanched almonds, chopped
45g brazil nuts, chopped
60g toasted flaked almonds
Combine the butter, cream cheese and yoghurt in a food processor.
In a large bowl whisk the egg yolk and maple syrup together until pale and fluffy. Beat in the cheese mixture. Add the dried fruit and chopped nuts and mix everything together.
Line an 18cm sieve with some cheesecloth or a handkerchief, leaving 10cm of cloth overhanging the edge. Sit the lined sieve over a small mixing bowl and spoon the paskha mixture inside it. Tie the ends of the cloth firmly together around the paskha mixture. Place a saucer of a lesser diameter than the sieve on top of the paskha mixture in the sieve. Press the saucer down with weights. Transfer to the fridge to drain and leave their to drain and chill for 24 hours.
Carefully dry-roast the flaked almonds in a frying pan until they become a light golden colour. Leave to cool.
Turn out the paskha onto a serving plate. Press the flaked almonds all over the surface.
Transfer the paskha to the fridge and leave it there until 30 minutes before you intend to serve it, then bring it out and leave it to come to room temperature.