Recipes Romanian Recipes

Romanian Sweet Cheese Pie (placinta cu branza)

pieces of cheese pie on a plate

Romanian Sweet Cheese Pie was the first type of pie I was introduced to when I was little. Both my grandmother and my mother used to bake this sweet cheese pie, and I loved it every single time, especially when it was a weekend treat.

Growing up, I started also to buy sweet cheese pie from bakeries on my way to school in one of Bucharest’s neighborhoods. It was my sweet delight and sometimes made for a delicious lunch. The funny thing is that I started to like these bought ones more, to my mother and grandmother’s disagreement. But that happened only because I found the cheese pie better with more semolina in it (which gives the pie a tougher consistency) than the extra creamy one made at home; and for bakeries, it was cheaper to add more semolina and less cheese, of course. Even today, when I visit Bucharest, one of the first things that I do is go to a bakery and get at least two cheese pies!

READ MORE: Martisor – the Romanian spring tradition

The Romanian Sweet Cheese Pie is not difficult to make; I’d say it’s one of the easiest Romanian dessert recipes. The only thing that could be difficult (depending on where you live) is to find the best cheese for this pie. This is because, in Romania, we use cottage cheese, but the Romanian cottage cheese is different from the cottage cheese you can find in the United States, for example. The best cheese for making the Romanian cheese pie is the Farmers Cheese (I found it at Whole Foods markets, and it’s almost exactly the same as the one back in Romania). If you don’t find Farmers Cheese, the next best one to use is cottage cheese (try one with less liquid) and/or ricotta cheese. But keep in mind the taste won’t be exactly the same as in the authentic recipe.

Semolina is the other main ingredient for this Romanian Cheese Pie. Usually, you can find it easily, but if it happens not to have semolina (as it happened to me when I last baked the pie), you can substitute it with a mix of unflavored breadcrumbs and a bit of flour.

Let’s now bake together one of my favorite Romanian dessertsRomanian Cheese Pie:


For the Dough:

  • 3 ½ cups flour
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 2 sticks butter
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp lemon zest

For the Filling:

  • 2 lbs Farmer’s cheese (or cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, or a 50/50 combination of cottage and ricotta)
  • 1 lb cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup semolina
  • 4 + 1 eggs
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Rum for soaking the raisins

READ MORE: Plum dumplings recipe (Galuste cu prune)


Make the dough:

  1. Mix together the butter cut into small pieces with the sugar. Add the eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and lemon zest. Mix well.
  2. Add the flour, bit by bit, and the salt. 
  3. Knead the dough until all the flour is incorporated. You should do that fast, for no more than 2-3 minutes; otherwise, the butter in the dough will start melting.
  4. Cover with plastic foil and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

Make the filling:

  1. Put the raisins in a small bowl and cover with rum. Let them soak for about half an hour.
  2. In a bowl, mix together 4 eggs with sugar. Add the cheese (if you are using cottage cheese and it has too much liquid, you could drain it a bit first), cream cheese, sour cream, vanilla, and the raisins soaked in rum. Mix everything well. The resulting mixture should be creamy but not runny. If it’s too runny, you can get more thickness by adding 1-2 extra semolina tablespoons.
  3. Cover with plastic foil and let it cool in the fridge for one hour.

READ MORE: Romanian Apple Pie Recipe

Put together the pie:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut the dough into two equal parts and roll them on a floured work surface. Again, you should do that pretty fast, or the butter in the dough will start melting.
  3. Line the baking tray with parchment paper. Put the first layer of rolled dough and cover with the cheese filling. Add the second rolled dough.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes or until it gets golden brown.

Pofta buna! (Bon appetite!)

Recipe Tips, Tricks, and FAQs:

1. What can I use instead of farmer’s cheese?

You can substitute farmer’s cheese either with cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, or a 50/50 combination of cottage and ricotta cheese. If you plan to use cottage cheese: choose a sortiment that has less liquid. And because cottage cheese is moister than farmer’s cheese, you need to add 1-2 extra tablespoons of semolina (or breadcrumbs). If you plan to use ricotta cheese: this cheese has less moisture and a creamier texture, so you will have to add 2-3 tablespoons of yogurt to your filling. 

2. What to use as a semolina flour substitute?

1 cup breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon flour. Semolina gives the filling a bit of thickness and absorbs the extra moisture. 

3. How can I store the sweet cheese pie?

After it is completely cooled, you can store it for 5-6 days in the fridge. I know there are many people who just store it at room temperature, but this pie has a lot of dairy and eggs that can easily spoil.

4. What type of cream cheese is best for sweet cheese pie?

The best cream cheese to use in the filling of the cheese pie is the one with the most neutral taste. I prefer the 365 Cream Cheese from Whole Foods.

P.S.: If you like apples more, try the Romanian Apple Pie as well!

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