Ukrainian Easter Cheesecake with Raisins (Syrnyi Pyrih)



12 servings




1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
4 oz. butter
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp. sour cream
1 lemon, zest of
1 egg white beaten with a little water for glaze
2 tbsp. coarse sugar

Cheese Filling

1 cup white raisins
1/2 lb. farmer cheese
4 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 lemon, juice and zest of
4 egg whites
6 tbsp. sugar


For the pastry: Combine flour, sugar, and baking powder in processor and mix. Add butter in bits and process a few times. Mix egg yolks, sour cream, and lemon zest, and add. Process just until dough forms. Press into a ball, then divide into 2 parts, one twice the size of the other. Chill in plastic wrap for at least 2 hours before rolling out.

Butter the bottom and sides of a tart form. Roll out the larger piece of dough about 1/4 inch thick and line pan, trimming edges with pastry cutter or sharp knife. refrigerate. Roll out remaining dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into 1/2 inch strips the width of the pan. Refrigerate.

For the cheese filling: Plump raisins in hot water and drain. Mix cheese and egg yolks. Add vanilla, lemon juice and zest, and raisins. Beat egg whites with sugar until stiff and fold in. Fill the prepared pastry, spreading evenly. Arrange pastry strips on top, weaving them for a fancy effect. Crimp ends and edges together. Bake in preheated 350°F. oven until done, about 45 minutes. Brush with egg white glaze and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake 5 minutes more until top is golden. Serve at room temperature.

Author's Comments

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.

NOTE: Pot cheese is a medium dry cottage cheese, also known as pressed cottage cheese. If drained until dry and crumbly, it becomes farmer's cheese. Both pot cheese and farmer's cheese can be found in Eastern European grocery stores and cheese shops; many supermarkets also stock farmer's cheese.

Festive Ukrainian Cooking

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