Delicious Traditional Romanian Cheese Doughnuts (Papanasi) On a Dark Plate

Traditional Cheese Doughnuts Recipe (Papanasi)

Video Recipe

Papanasi, pronounced ‘papanash’, is a cherished dessert in Romanian cuisine. These aren’t your typical doughnuts. Made primarily with cottage cheese, these doughnuts have a unique texture and flavor that sets them apart. Often found on the menu of every Romanian restaurant, Papanasi is a testament to the rich culinary heritage of Romania. This traditional recipe focuses on the deep-fried version, which offers a delightful combination of softness from the inside and a slight crunch on the outside.

The Authentic Romanian Touch

Papanasi are quintessentially Romanian. They are often found on the menu of every Romanian restaurant. The traditional recipe calls for a special cheese known as “branza de vaci”, which translates to cow’s cheese. This cheese is fresh, low in fat, and high in protein. It’s similar to cottage cheese but has a milder taste. However, due to its limited availability outside Romania, cream cheese or ricotta serves as an excellent substitute.

Serving Papanasi the Right Way

The way papanasi are served is crucial to the experience. They are best enjoyed warm, topped with smantana (a dairy product similar to crème fraiche but with a lower fat content) and a runny blueberry jam. The jam should be fluid enough to slide down the sides of the papanasi, creating delightful little pools on the plate.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Traditional Cheese Doughnuts Ingredients.
  • Fresh Unsalted Cottage Cheese – 600 grams or 21 ounces
  • Flour – 150 grams or 5.3 ounces
  • Eggs – 3
  • Vanilla Sugar – 2 teaspoons
  • Vanilla Extract – 1 teaspoon
  • Lemon Zest – from 1 lemon
  • Baking Powder – 8 grams or 2 teaspoons
  • Salt – a pinch
  • Sunflower Oil – 1 liter or 34 fluid ounces (for frying)

Serving Ingredients

Traditional Cheese Doughnuts Ingredients.
  • Sour Cream – 500 grams or 2 cups
  • Fruit Jelly – 250 grams or 1 cup

How to Make Traditional Cheese Doughnuts (Papanasi)

1. Strain the Cheese

Process Shots Showing How to Make Traditional Cheese Doughnuts.

Strain the liquid from the cheese thoroughly.

2. Prepare the Mixture

Process Shots Showing How to Make Traditional Cheese Doughnuts.

Mix the strained cheese with eggs, lemon zest, vanilla sugar, vanilla extract, and salt.

3. Add Flour and Baking Powder

Process Shots Showing How to Make Traditional Cheese Doughnuts.

Gradually add the flour and baking powder, blending until a soft dough forms.

4. Shape the Doughnuts

Process Shots Showing How to Make Traditional Cheese Doughnuts.

Shape the dough into doughnuts.

5. Frying

Process Shots Showing How to Make Traditional Cheese Doughnuts.

Fry in sunflower oil until golden brown.

6. Serving

Process Shots Showing How to Make Traditional Cheese Doughnuts.

Serve with sour cream and fruit jelly.

If You Can’t Find Fresh Unsalted Cottage Cheese, You Have 2 Alternatives:

  1. Ricotta Cheese Doughnuts Recipe.
  2. Cream Cheese Doughnuts Recipe.

FAQ

1. What is the difference between papanasi and regular doughnuts?

Papanasi are Romanian cheese doughnuts, distinct in flavor and texture due to the use of cream cheese, ricotta or branza de vaci. They are soft yet have a crunchy exterior, and are traditionally topped with smantana and fruit jelly.

2. What if I can’t find smantana?

If smantana is unavailable, crème fraiche is a good substitute. It provides a similar creamy texture and tangy flavor that complements the sweetness of the doughnuts.

Delicious Traditional Romanian Cheese Doughnuts (Papanasi) On a Dark Plate

Traditional Cheese Doughnuts (Papanasi)

Yield: 5
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Dive into the culinary tapestry of Romania with Papanasi, a cheese doughnut that tantalizes and teases the palate. Crafted from luscious cottage cheese, kissed with vanilla whispers, and enlivened by a zesty lemon embrace, these doughnuts are nothing short of a gastronomic reverie. Their golden crust conceals a heart of cheesy tenderness, making every morsel a dance of flavors. The pièce de résistance? A dollop of creamy sour cream juxtaposed with the saccharine notes of fruit jelly. With Papanasi, you're not just making a dessert; you're weaving a tale of Romanian culinary magic. Indulge in the narrative.

Ingredients

  • Fresh unsalted cottage cheese – 600 grams or 21 ounces
  • Flour – 150 grams or 5.3 ounces
  • Eggs – 3
  • Vanilla sugar – 2 teaspoons
  • Vanilla extract – 1 teaspoon
  • Lemon zest – from 1 lemon
  • Baking powder – 8 grams or 2 teaspoons
  • Salt – a pinch
  • Sunflower oil – 1 liter or 34 fluid ounces (for frying)
  • Sour cream – 500 grams or 2 cups
  • Fruit jelly – 250 grams or 1 cup

Serving Ingredients

  • Sour cream – 500 grams or 2 cups
  • Fruit jelly – 250 grams or 1 cup

Instructions

  1. Strain the liquid from the cheese thoroughly.Process Shots Showing How to Make Traditional Cheese Doughnuts.
  2. Mix the strained cheese with eggs, lemon zest, vanilla sugar, vanilla extract, and salt.Gradually add the flour and baking powder, blending until a soft dough forms.Process Shots Showing How to Make Traditional Cheese Doughnuts.
  3. Gradually add the flour and baking powder, blending until a soft dough forms.Process Shots Showing How to Make Traditional Cheese Doughnuts.
  4. Shape the dough into doughnuts.Process Shots Showing How to Make Traditional Cheese Doughnuts.
  5. Fry in sunflower oil until golden brown.Process Shots Showing How to Make Traditional Cheese Doughnuts.
  6. Serve with sour cream and fruit jelly.Process Shots Showing How to Make Traditional Cheese Doughnuts.

Notes

Cheese Type: Papanasi is traditionally made with unsalted cottage cheese. This cheese should have the texture of little snowballs. It's known as quark or topfen in Germany, queso fresco in Spain, cottage cheese in the United States, and branza dulce de vaci in Romania.

Draining the Cheese: It's crucial to strain all the liquid from the cheese. This step is essential for achieving the desired fluffiness of the papanasi. More liquid will require more flour, which can result in a dense and hard cheese doughnut once fried.

Flavoring: Lemon zest is commonly used to add flavor. However, if someone dislikes the citric flavor, it can be replaced with cinnamon. But combining both cinnamon and lemon zest is not recommended due to their strong and contrasting flavors.

Sweetness: The traditional Romanian Papanasi is not overly sweet. It relies on a combination of flavors and gets its sweetness primarily from the fruit jelly used for serving.

Frying: Papanasi needs to be deep-fried. Sunflower oil or canola oil is recommended for frying, as using olive oil can impart a bitter flavor to the dessert. The frying process should be done on low to medium power to ensure the doughnuts are cooked thoroughly without burning.

Serving: Papanasi is traditionally served with a dollop of sour cream and plenty of fruit jelly. The choice of fruit jelly is flexible, with cherry jelly being a popular choice.

Texture: The key to a successful Papanasi recipe is achieving the right dough texture. A soft dough will result in fluffy cheese doughnuts. If the dough is too hard, the resulting doughnuts will also be hard.

Alternative Ingredients: If unsalted cottage cheese is unavailable, the recipe can be adapted using cream cheese or ricotta. However, the ratios of the ingredients will change, and the resulting taste and texture might vary slightly from the traditional version.

Final Note: Pay close attention to the texture of the dough, regardless of the version of Papanasi being made. The texture is crucial for achieving the desired outcome.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 5 Serving Size: 340g
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 334Total Fat: 31.6gSaturated Fat: 1.6gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 18.4gCholesterol: 108mgCarbohydrates: 35gSugar: 9gProtein: 20g

The nutritional information provided is approximate and for reference purposes only. Actual values may vary due to factors such as product brands, preparation methods, and ingredient substitutions. The provided values may not include all nutrients and should not be relied upon as the sole source of nutritional information. Always read product labels and consider individual factors when making dietary choices. We are not responsible for any inaccuracies or adverse effects resulting from the use of this information.

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Author

  • Diana

    Hey! I’m Diana. a 30-year-old culinary enthusiast with a passion for creating mouthwatering dishes that tantalize your taste buds. With over 15 years of cooking experience under my apron, I’ve spent countless hours in the kitchen honing my skills, experimenting with flavors, and discovering the most delectable recipes.

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