Skip to Content

Papanasi Recipe (Sweet Cheese Doughnuts from Romania with Love)

Sharing is caring!

This website may contain affiliate links and advertising so that we can provide recipes and guides at no additional cost to you. Learn more

Treat family, friends, and loved ones to a dessert that hugs both the stomach and soul with our papanasi recipe (Romanian sweet cheese doughnuts), and watch these rich, fried pastries disappear very quickly from the dinner table as everyone’s hands keep going back in for just one more!

Papanasi Recipe (Romanian Sweet Cheese Doughnuts)

Many believe the word ‘papanasi’ was derived from the Latin ‘pappa,’ meaning ‘food for children,’ which, if true, is a glorious way to capture the essence of this hugely popular pastry dish.

What is Papanasi?

A beloved dish of Romanian cuisine, papanasi consists of two parts: a rolled, doughnut-like round, and a small pastry sphere that nestles snuggly on top of the round.

Some type of soft cheese is commonly used in the dough filling, and once the pastries have been cooked and assembled, they are traditionally covered in a generous amount of sour cream and some type of jam, such as cherry jam or sour cherry jam, as used in our recipe.

For anyone who loves fried treats and combining both sweet and savory flavors in desserts, this is a dish you definitely have to try.

Papanasi Ingredients

To make papanasi, you’ll first need to assemble the following ingredients:

  • Farmer’s Cheese – 500 grams (17 oz or 1.1 lb)
  • Sugar – 100 grams (3.5 oz or 1/2 cup)
  • Flour, plain, all-purpose – 400 grams (14 oz or 3 1/4 cups)
  • Eggs – 2
  • Vanilla – 1 tsp
  • Baking Soda – 1/2 tsp
  • Salt – 1/2 tsp
  • Oil for frying – 500ml – 1L
  • Sour Cream – to serve
  • Jam (cherry jam or sour cherry jam) – to serve

Note: If you’re struggling to find the right kind of farmer’s cheese in stores that would work well in Eastern European recipes, we have a homemade farmer’s cheese recipe that’s surprisingly easy and works perfectly in this recipe.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1 – Separate the egg whites from the egg yolks, and place the egg whites in a medium-sized bowl.

Step 2 – Beat the egg whites with a hand mixer for about 3-4 minutes until you get a foam-like consistency.

Step 3 – In a medium-sized bowl, mix the farmer’s cheese with the egg yolks, sugar, baking soda, vanilla, and salt.

Step 4 – Add the beaten egg whites to the mix.

Step 5 – Add the flour in stages and knead lightly. Cover and let it rest for about 20 minutes.

Step 6 – Divide the dough into four equal parts. First, remove a bit from each part to create the four small round balls (see below). And then, turn each of the four big parts into flattened thick rounds. Then, using your finger, create the hole in the middle and smooth it out.

Step 7 – In a small pot, add the sunflower oil (or another neutral-tasting oil), so that you have about 6 cm (or 2.5 inches) height of oil. Over medium heat, bring the oil to around 350°F (180°C) and drop the dough in (as many as you can fit in just one layer). Fry until golden (about 5-7 minutes for the big papanasi and 3-4 minutes for the little balls).

Step 8 – Once ready, carefully remove them from the pot and drain them either on a wire rack or on a paper towel.

Step 9 – Put each ball on top of the large rounds. Once your spheres have been nestled within each doughnut-shaped pastry, and all have been assembled on the plate, it’s time to get generous!

What to Serve with Papanasi

Traditional – Pour a generous amount of sour cream over each one, followed by a few spoonfuls of sour cherry jam.

You could also serve it with:

Tea or Coffee – Your afternoon coffee or tea break will get a whole lot better with this hearty and creamy dessert!

Additional Fruits and Jams – If you have leftover sour cream and cherry jam, serve it alongside the dish for guests to help themselves. You could also consider chopped fruit, or other types of jam, depending on what you have at home.

Watching those creamy, glossy liquids oozing down the side of the speckled, golden-brown pastries truly is a sight for sore eyes.

No one will judge you for giving in to your urges and diving in with your hands to pick up one of these wholesome, sweet, and sour-coated treats. This is Romanian and Moldovan food at its most indulgent, we can assure you! Enjoy, and have fun with this one.

Papanasi Recipe Card

Papanasi (Cheese Doughnuts)

5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Author: Nomad Paradise
Course: Desserts
Cuisine: Romanian
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 500 grams 17 oz or 1.1 lb farmer’s cheese
  • 100 grams 3.5oz or 1/2 cup sugar
  • 400 grams 14oz or 3 1/4 cups plain, all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups sunflower oil or other neutral-tasting oil for frying
  • sour cream to serve
  • jam whole cherry or sour cherry jam, to serve

Instructions

  • Separate the egg whites from the egg yolks, and place the egg whites in a medium-sized bowl.
  • Beat the egg whites with a hand mixer for about 3-4 minutes until you get a foam-like consistency.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, mix the farmer’s cheese with the egg yolks, sugar, baking soda, vanilla, and salt.
  • Add the beaten egg whites to the mix.
  • Add the flour in stages and knead lightly. Cover and let it rest for about 20 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into four equal parts. First, remove a bit from each part to create the four small round balls (see below). And then, turn each of the four big parts into flattened thick rounds. Then, using your finger, create the hole in the middle and smooth it out.
  • In a small pot, add the sunflower oil (or another neutral-tasting oil), so that you have about 6 cm (or 2.5 inches) height of oil. Over medium heat, bring the oil to around 350°F (180°C) and drop the dough in (as many as you can fit in just one layer so the oil covers them fully). Fry until golden (about 5-7 minutes for the big papanasi and 3-4 minutes for the little balls). You will likely have to do this in stages (one or two donuts at a time).
  • Once ready, carefully remove them from the pot and drain them either on a wire rack or on a paper towel.
  • Put each ball on top of the large rounds. Once your spheres have been nestled within each doughnut-shaped pastry, and all have been assembled on the plate, it’s time to get generous! Pour a generous amount of sour cream over each one, followed by a few spoonfuls of whole cherry or sour cherry jam.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nomadparadisefood or tag #nomadparadisefood!

You Might Also Like to Read

Save and Pin for Later

Keep my sweet cheese doughnuts, or papanasi, recipe for safekeeping by saving it to one of you recipe boards.

Papanasi Recipe Pin - Sweet Cheese Doughnuts from Romania

Contributor: Efimia is a retired teacher and passionate home cook, with over forty years of experience feeding her family and friends sweet and savory dishes from across Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

Author

  • Hey there! We are Dale and Doina, the founders of Nomad Paradise. We traveled full-time for over three years, and while we now have a home base in the U.K., continue to take trips abroad to visit new places and try new cuisines and foods. Our food guides are curated with the guidance of local foodies, and their contribution is indicated under each article. We also cook the foods we try abroad, and you can discover how to make them in our 'recipes from around the world' category.

    View all posts

Sharing is caring!

Recipe Rating