This recipe for Slovak sweet egg cheese is typically served at Easter time and goes by various names including hrudka, cirak, sirok, sirecz and on and on. Typically, hrudka is made without sugar, but some cooks prefer it sweet. Essentially, it's a ball of eggs and milk that have been cooked until the proteins separate into curds and the liquid separates into whey. The technique for making hrudka is similar to making farmers cheese. Hrudka can be made savory with salt and sometimes pepper or sweetened with sugar. What remains constant is that it's always included in the basket of Easter foods to be blessed on Holy Saturday and not eaten until the next morning, Easter Sunday, with other traditional blessed foods like beet horseradish, ham, sausage (klobása), salt and paska bread.
See also this recipe for Slovak Savory Egg Cheese Recipe.
- 12 large eggs
- 1-quart milk (whole)
- 1 cup sugar
- Optional: 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Beat eggs in the top of a double boiler. Add milk, sugar, cinnamon (if using) and salt, and mix thoroughly. Fill the bottom pan of the double boiler with about an inch of water. Bring the water to a boil and turn down the heat so that it is simmering hard. Place the upper pan containing the eggs and milk over (not in) the pan with the simmering water.
- Stir frequently with a wooden spoon until the mixture curdles, approximately 20 to 30 minutes or until no more whey (the liquid) is exuded. By the way, don't throw away the whey! Use it in place of the milk in this paska Easter bread recipe.
- Line a colander with damp butter muslin or two layers of fine cheesecloth that is large enough to hang over the sides of the colander. Place the muslin-lined colander over a bowl to catch any whey.
- Use a skimmer or slotted spoon to ladle the curds into the cheesecloth. Allow the curds to drain for 10 minutes. Then, gather up the edges of the cheesecloth to form a bundle in order to drain as much whey as possible from the egg cheese. Use a length of butcher's twine to tie the cheesecloth containing the curds into a neat bundle, pressing on the cheesecloth a bit to help the whey drain off.
- Tie the twine to a wooden spoon or dowel, and hang the egg cheese curds over a pot or container to collect any remaining whey and continue draining for 30 minutes.
- When the egg cheese ball has cooled and not dripping any more whey, place it in the refrigerator overnight still suspended over a pan so it will retain its round shape. When ready to serve, remove the cheesecloth. Serve sliced. This cheese is very perishable and should be consumed within a day or two. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator.