Romanian fluffy pies filled with ricotta cheese

These Romanian fluffy pies filled with ricotta or cottage cheese called branzoici or poale-n brau in Romanian, are sweet memories from my childhood.

I was lucky enough because I grew with my grandma’s cooking and these were one of her Sunday sweets.

My grandma was a very talented cook and her food was always amazing. Back then 99% of the ingredients she used in her cooking were from our garden, from our animals or made by her like cheeses, butter, yogurt, cold cuts…Usually on Sunday the whole family used to gather for lunch and there was always the best food cooked with love.

These fluffy dough pies and cheese filling, were always extremely appreciated in our family.

The famous and beloved cheesecakes well known around the world have their own story, right? Many think that it has its origins in New York but in fact seems it actually dates back over 4,000 years ago to ancient Greece, where it was considered to be a good source of energy, and there is evidence that it was served to athletes during the first Olympic games in 776 B.C.

If you want to learn all about cheesecake’s rich history you may do so, I have found a website dedicated to them cheesecake.com. Is a bakery that offers lots and lots of cheesecake flavours that if you’re living in the US you’re lucky to enjoy an epic cheesecake experience.

Now coming back to our fluffy pies, from where does the name Poale-n brau come from? 

They say that the way the dough is folded is reminiscent of the old-fashioned custom of Moldovan housewives who would lift the corner of their apron and hold it in their belts so that they could more easily cook wonderful delicacies, which, taken out of the oven, smelled of delicious flavors.

The name ‘Poale-n brau’ maybe comes from the Moldovan housewives but these delicious cheese pies are well known in several countries in Europe.

In the Czech Republic and Slovakia are known as kolach, kolacky; in Poland as kolacz and refers to the leavened dough for rolls. This dough can be plain or with raisins or filled with walnuts, poppy seeds, cheese or jam. 

The Austrians know it under the name of Kolatschen or Golatschen, the Hungarians call them kalacs and it came to Romania from the Austro-Hungarian chain in Transylvania, Banat and Bucovina. From Bucovina it then spread south to Moldova.

The delicious cheese pies known as poale-n brau or branzoici are emblematic and very well known between the Romanian desserts. 

Soft, fluffy, sweet and flavored with rum and raisins, the cheese pies are folded from the corners to the center and filled with sweet cheese, milk, eggs, raisins and citrus zest.

Now, I must admit that these sweets are not my usual fast kind of recipes. The process is a little longer but the work is all worth it.

So let’s get to it.


Branzoici (Poale-n brau) Ingredients for 15 big pieces

Ingredients for dough for branzoici (Poale-n brau):

  • 500 g flour
  • 240 ml of milk
  • 7 g dry yeast / 25 g fresh
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 60 g butter
  • 90 g of sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 orange zest
Ingredients for dough for branzoici (Poale-n brau)

Ingredients for cheese filling for branzoici (Poale-n brau): 

  • 350 g well drained cottage cheese or ricotta
  • 150 g sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 2 tablespoons white semolina 
  • 1 medium orange zest
  • 50-60 g raisins
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste 
Ingredients for cheese filling for branzoici (Poale-n brau)

Ingredients for brushing the top of branzoici (Poale-n brau) for getting a golden color:

  • 1 egg yolk + 2 tablespoons milk 

Branzoici (Poale-n brau) – Preparation method

First thing first, soak your raisins in a good rum or Brandy for an additional touch of flavour.

Branzoici (Poale-n brau) – Dough preparation

Sift the flour into a bowl, add the dehydrated yeast and mix (if using fresh yeast, rub it with 1 teaspoon of the total amount of sugar and then add it in the center of the sifted flour).

Warm the milk and gradually add it to the flour. Be careful! The milk should not be hot, but only slightly warm.

We add the eggs, sugar, salt, orange zest, gradually the soft butter and we start to knead the dough.

Knead until you get an elastic dough. If the dough sticks to the hand, you can gradually add about 50-100 g of flour. Put it in a bowl, cover it with food-grade plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and leave the dough to rise, in a warm place, away from cold air currents, for 2 hours, or until it doubles in volume. I’ve put it in the oven, turned-off of course 🙂

Branzoici (Poale-n brau) – Filling Preparation

I have used ricotta for the filling as is much more easy to find it here but if you use cottage cheese remember to drain it as you don’t want a liquid filling.

Put the ricotta or the well drained cottage cheese in a bowl, add the orange zest, eggs, the drained raisins (the ones that you previously soaked in rum or Brandy), semolina, vanilla paste and salt. Stir until the filling becomes homogeneous, then put it in the refrigerator.

Branzoici (Poale-n brau) – Assembly

Pour the leavened dough on the work table powdered with flour and spread it in a rectangular sheet about 7-8 mm thick. Cut the dough into squares of about 7-8 cm.

Put in the center of each square 1 tablespoon full of filling and glue very well two by two opposite corners of each square.

Put the pies in a baking tray lined with baking paper and leave them to rise for another 45-60 minutes, covered with a cotton cloth, in a warm place.

After they have risen, brush the pies with the mixture of yolk and milk and bake them in the preheated oven at 200°C, for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

We take them out of the tray, place them on a grill and after they have cooled a little, you can powder them with vanilla powdered sugar if you wish and enjoy them. 

They are delicious!

So, it may take around 4 hours in total to enjoy them, way much longer than my usual recipes but believe me it is well worth it the effort.

This was my fist time I’ve made branzoici or Poale-n brau but I will definitely do them again as I was very pleased with the result. I’m sure my grandma would be very pleased with me too.

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Romanian fluffy pies filled with ricotta cheese

popsiclesociety
The delicious cheese pies known as poale-n brau or branzoici are emblematic and very well known between the Romanian desserts.
Soft, fluffy, sweet and flavored with rum and raisins, the cheese pies are folded from the corners to the center and filled with sweet cheese, milk, eggs, raisins and citrus zest.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 4 hrs
Course Dessert
Cuisine Romanian
Servings 15 pieces

Ingredients
  

Ingredients for dough for branzoici (Poale-n brau):

  • 500 g flour
  • 240 ml milk
  • 7 g dry yeast or 25 g fresh
  • 2 eggs medium
  • 60 g butter soft
  • 90 g sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 orange zest

Ingredients for cheese filling for branzoici (Poale-n brau): 

  • 350 g ricotta or drained cottage cheese
  • 150 g sugar
  • 2 eggs medium
  • 2 tbsp white semolina
  • 1 orange zest medium
  • 50 g raisins soaked in rum or Brandy
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste

Ingredients for brushing the top of branzoici (Poale-n brau) for getting a golden color:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp milk

Instructions
 

Branzoici (Poale-n brau) – Dough preparation

  • First thing first, soak your raisins in a good rum or Brandy for an additional touch of flavour.
  • Sift the flour into a bowl.
  • Add the dry yeast and mix (if using fresh yeast, rub it with 1 teaspoon of the total amount of sugar and then add it in the center of the sifted flour).
  • Warm the milk and gradually add it to the flour. Be careful! The milk should not be hot, but only slightly warm.
  • We add the eggs, sugar, salt, orange zest, the soft butter and we start to knead the dough.
  • Knead until you get an elastic dough. If the dough sticks to the hand, you can gradually add about 50-100 g of flour.
  • Put it in a bowl.
  • Cover it with food-grade plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and leave the dough to rise, in a warm place, away from cold air currents, for 2 hours, or until it doubles in volume.
  • I’ve put it to rest in the oven, turned-off of course 🙂

Branzoici (Poale-n brau) – Filling Preparation

  • I have used ricotta for the filling as is much more easy to find it here but if you use cottage cheese remember to drain it as you don’t want a liquid filling.
    Put the ricotta or the well drained cottage cheese in a bowl, add the orange zest, eggs, the drained raisins (the ones that you previously soaked in rum or Brandy), semolina, vanilla paste and salt.
  • Stir until the filling becomes homogeneous, then put it in the refrigerator.

Branzoici (Poale-n brau) – Assembly

  • Look at this beautiful risen dough.
  • Pour the leavened dough on the work table powdered with flour and spread it in a rectangular sheet about 7-8 mm thick.
  • Cut the dough into squares of about 7-8 cm. 
  • Put in the center of each square 1 tablespoon full of filling.
  • Glue very well two opposite corners of each square.
  • And then the other two corners.
  • Put the pies in a baking tray lined with baking paper and leave them to rise for another 45-60 minutes, covered with a cotton cloth, in a warm place.
  • After they have risen, brush the pies with the mixture of yolk and milk.
  • Bake them in the preheated oven at 200°C, for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  • We take them out of the tray, place them on a grill and after they have cooled a little, you can powder them with vanilla powdered sugar if you wish and enjoy them. 

Notes

Resting time in total is: 3 hours
So, it may take around 4 hours in total to enjoy them, way much longer than my usual recipes but believe me it is well worth it the effort.
They are delicious!
Keyword branzoici, cheese fluffy pies, poale-n brau, Romanian sweets, sweets with ricotta
Romanian fluffy pies filled with ricotta cheese
The delicious cheese pies known as poale-n brau or branzoici are emblematic and very well known between the Romanian desserts.
Soft, fluffy, sweet and flavored with rum and raisins, the cheese pies are folded from the corners to the center and filled with sweet cheese, milk, eggs, raisins and citrus zest.
Check out this recipe

Wish you all a wonderful weekend!

Popsicle Society
Popsicle Society

I love traveling, cooking and enjoying this beautiful world. 
I’m a life lover! Simple as that!

71 thoughts

    1. Thank you very much! As the egg is used primarily as a binder for the dough, you could use banana, applesauce, or gelatin but I have never tried it so far. If you try it let me know how it comes out 😉

  1. I keep telling myself I have enough recipes to test and try – but these caught my eye and I know I HAVE to make them. My Grandfather was born in Romania and I will have to ask his cousin if she had these as a child 🙂

  2. These look super yummy. My brother in law is from Moldova and over the years, I had a chance to savour all sorts of goodies from his country and Romania, too. Thanks for sharing and have a lovely weekend 😀 Aiva

    1. The world is not so big after all 😉 I’m very glad you’ve had the chance to enjoy some Romanian goodies 😉😋 Sometimes a little heavy but super delicious dishes 😉😋
      Have a wonderful weekend Aiva 🌸

  3. Yummy 😍 Food is the best medicine for everything, mental & physical . Thanks for sharing this 😁 well I cheated my diet, ate everything I shouldn’t 😂. Just a day won’t kill me I hope, but mentally I feel a lot better 🤗 have a lovely weekend Ribana 🤗💐

    1. You said it right Simon! Food is the best medicine for everything, mental and physical 🤩😋 I know the situation is not very pleasant but a good dish can really help us feel better 😉
      Stay always strong and safe Simon!
      Hugs to both of you 🤗🌸

  4. These look so good!!
    That’s interesting about where cheesecake came from. I told my husband that I need more energy so we will start having cheesecake every morning. 😂

  5. So wonderfully described!!
    Such a delicacy would definitely make me go away once more from my path of controlled diet, which I now need to shed off those extra Kilos I gained during Lockdowns and restricted Work from Home time.

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