Ukrainian Easter Cheesecake (Syrnyk)

"Fresh, simple cheese is synonymous with Easter baking. Syrnyk, or syrnyi perih is a must for family desserts at Easter time. The very traditional version consisted mainly of farmer cheese, eggs, sugar, and lemon zest wrapped in a short pastry dough, and flavored with dried fruits such as raisins. This recipe is an elegant version of the traditional cheesecake. Farmers cheese, is similar to ricotta, but silkier in texture."
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Ready In:
1hr 25mins




  • MAKE THE PASTRY. In a food processor or a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and process, or cut in, until the mixture is the consistency of coarse crumbs.
  • In another bowl, mix the egg yolks, sour cream, and lemon zest. Add to the flour mixture and process or mix just until the dough holds together. Press the dough into a ball, then remove one-quarter of the dough. Wrap the two pieces separately in plastic wrap and chill for 10 minutes.
  • Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 or 10 inch springform pan. Remove the larger portion of dough from the refrigerator and on a lightly floured surface, roll out to about 1/4 inch thick (see Note). Using the pan as a guide, cut a circle of dough and fit it into the bottom of the pan. Cut the remaining rolled out dough into 2-inch strips and "patch" them around the sides of the pan to cover, pressing them against the pan so they stay in place. Seal the edges around the bottom of the pastry. Refrigerate while preparing the filling.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • FOR THE FILLING, place the raisins in a small bowl and cover with hot water. Let stand for a few minutes until plumped, then drain. Beat the farmer cheese, or ricotta cheese, egg yolks, and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a large bowl until fluffy. Add the vanilla, lemon zest and juice, and the raisins.
  • In a small bowl, beat the egg whites with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar until stiff and fold into the filling batter. Pour into the prepared pastry shell and spread evenly.
  • Roll out the reserved dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into 1/2 inch strips that are 9 or 10 inches long, depending on the diameter of the pan. Arrange the pastry strips on top of the filling, weaving them into a latticework pattern. Crimp the edges of the pastry together to seal.
  • FOR THE TOPPING, brush with the egg white mixture and sprinkle with the sugar.
  • Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, until the filling is set an the crust is pale golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
  • Makes 12 to 16 servings.
  • NOTE: An easy way to roll out a sticky dough such as this is to place it between two sheets of plastic wrap. If the dough seems too sticky or soft to lift from the plastic put it into the freezer for one or two minutes, until it stiffens, then peel of one part of the plastic wrap and lift the dough up from the second sheet of plastic.
  • If you use ricotta cheese in a container then drain in a strainer until liquid drains out.
  • Festive Ukrainian Cooking.

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