A cross between a cake and bread this Cheese Babka is an enriched yeast dough with a lightly sweetened cheese filling. It’s a favorite for Easter breakfast, brunch, or teatime.
You can bake this babka in many forms. The base is my typical babka recipe that I usually bake in two loaf pans or a bundt pan, but today, I’ve made it in mini-loaf pans. It hit me recently that the taco bar serving set my sister gave me could serve as a set of small loaf pans. I also came across the cutest little pink loaf pan in our kitchen. It’s way too cute for me, so I’m guessing it must be something our daughter left behind.
The recipe proofs overnight in the fridge which adds to the flavor. If you’re pressed for time, you can forgo the extra flavor and follow the usual pattern for baking with yeast and let it rise until doubled in size in a warm spot before shaping into loaves.
The filling is a simple mix of farmer’s cheese, sugar, and egg yolks. If you have trouble finding a farmer’s cheese, it’s easy to make your own. Twaróg, the Polish word for farmer’s cheese is something you can whip up at home. Just be sure the milk you’re using is not ultra-pasteurized. I’ve had good like with pasteurized.
I’m putting a crumb topping on the cheese babka, but you could skip the crumbs and just give your babka a dusting of powdered sugar or drizzle with a glaze of powdered sugar (1 cup), softened butter (1 tablespoon), vanilla extract (1/2 teaspoon), and milk (1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons).
If you like this, you might want to try some of my other babka recipes:
Easter Babka – a yeast dough studded with rum soak raisins
Raisin Walnut Babka – a yeast dough rolled around raisins and walnuts with a cinnamon glaze
Butter Rum Babka – a pound cake-like (baking powder leavening) babka with a butter rum-flavored glaze
Lemon Babka – a pound cake-like (baking powder leavening) babka with
Chocolate Hazelnut Babka – a yeast dough rolled around a Nutella filling
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- Prep Time: 2 hours + overnight
- Cook Time: 45 min
- Total Time: 24 minute
- Yield: 2 9-inch loaves 1x
- Category: Bread
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Polish
A delicate raised dough, wrapped around ribbons of a lightly sweet cheese filling with a crumb topping
for the dough:
- 1 cup whole milk, warmed (110 F)
- 1 packet dry active yeast
- 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
- 4 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp
for the filling:
- 16 ounces farmer’s cheese
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg yolk
for the crumb topping:
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup softened butter
- Add warm milk to a mixing bowl with yeast, and 1 tablespoon of sugar, stir and let sit for 5 minutes, it should become foamy
- Add remaining sugar, egg, egg yolk, flour and salt, mix until well combined using mixer dough hook for 5 minutes, add butter and mix until fully incorporated about 3 minutes, the dough will be tacky
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temp for an hour, divide dough in half, wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight
- Add the cheese, sugar, and egg yolk to the bowl of a food processs and process until smooth.
- Grease 2 9-inch loaf pans
- Roll each piece of dough out to a 16 inch square, spread with 1/2 of the filling, avoiding 1/2 inch around the edge of the dough, roll up as snugly as possible
- Fold the dough in the middle, imagine a hairpin. Hold one end and twist. , place the spiraled dough in prepared pans
- Cover and let rise at room temp for 1-2 hours, during this time preheat the oven to 375 F.
- Brush the loaves with egg white. Combine ingredients for the crumb topping and sprinkle over the babkas.
- Bake 45-50 minutes, internal temp should be 195 F, cool 10 minutes, run a knife around the edge of the pans to remove.
Let me just warm you that assembling this is a messy process. The dough is very soft. The filling wants to run. Just carry on and know that it will all be covered with the crumb topping.
An accountant by trade and a food blogger since 2009, Lois Britton fell in love with Polish cuisine during the years she lived in Poznań, Poland. As the creator of PolishHousewife.com, she loves connecting readers with traditional Polish recipes. Lois has a graduate certificate in Food Writing and Photography from the University of South Florida. She is the author of The Polish Housewife Cookbook, available on Amazon and on her website.
What is oven temporature???
375 F, thanks for catching that, Louise. I’ve added that to the recipe.
After the dough is separated and chilled over night do you still cut it in half again??? Confused
Thanks for catching that, Denise. I’m afraid I got lost in my notes while typing. I’ve correct that. The dough is divided only once.
For the filling, something is missing from the butter…”1/4 softened butter”. 1/4 what?
It should be 1/4 cup, Jerry. Thanks for catching that!
Should the refrigerated dough be loosely wrapped in plastic or tightly wrapped? Should it be allowed to expand?
Hi JoAnne, I wouldn’t wrap tightly. The dough will expand a bit while refrigerated, and the plastic wrap will “give” a bit.
I’ve made this twice, soon to be three times, fantastic bread, freezes well, and is a hit with everyone that tries it! I’ve also tried changing up the filling, including adding poppyseed filling… Thank you for another fantastic recipe!
Love your creativity, Sarah!
You gave instructions for a loaf pan but not a bundt pan. How long to cook and same temperature??
Hi Kathy, thanks for your question. A bundt pan would bake at the same temperature and still in the 40 – 50-minute range.
This looks so delicious and amazing, I’m surely gonna try making this, my sister is gonna love it 🙂 I hope I make sure it tastes well too…
This came out so lovely. I used your recipe for farmers cheese, which makes slightly less than needed for this recipe. So for the second babka I spread some Nutella and then spread the remaining farmers cheese. It was really good. When I first read the recipe I thought the crumb topping might be a bit overkill but oh my it wasn’t! I’m so glad I added it. I made this for my mother’s birthday – what else would you make for a Polish mother on her birthday 😉
I’m so glad to hear. you enjoy it, Janet. A belated “sto lat” to your mother!
I have been looking for a recipe that would be similar to the bapka that my Babci made when I was a little girl.
This is it! Truly a delicious bread full of scrumptious cheese!
Thank you for helping me recreate a very special memory of Christmas past..
This may sound silly but I would like to make this in a Bundt pan – would I put the crumble topping into the pan and place the dough on top? What temperature should it be inside when done? Thank you!
What I have seen people do most often, Kristen, is put the crumbs on top of the batter in a bundt pan, and display the cake with the crumbs on top, so it appears to be upside down compared to how we normally think of a bundt cake. I would bake to 210 F. Thanks for your very good questions!
This looks lovely! Having moved out of New York, I haven’t been able to find a good Polish deli nearby and this looks like it would hit the spot. Do you think I could use a circular cake pan with the loaf coiled around itself?
Yes, I think that would be fine.
When using a bundt cake pan, do you still cut the dough in half and then ribbon it in the pan, one on top of the other? Or do you just use one filled dough ribbon?
I would follow the same process, twisting the two halves and coil it in the pan, but it may not make any difference when it’s all said and done. Either way will be delicious.
First time making this. Absolutely delicious! Recipe is a keeper!
Patti a half Polish woman whose Mom never baked much
I am still letting it rise the first time because it didn’t rise that much. I hope I didn’t do something wrong because i wanted to surprise my son in law. I will let you know!
Going to try this recipe this weekend. I read that this recipe freezes well. Could you please help me with instructions on how to freeze and then unfreeze and bake this bread…would I need to thaw it first?
I froze the bread after baking.
Should this be kept on the counter or in the fridge once baked?
I’m not a food safety scientist, Stefanie, but my thought is that the cake is dry enough to be kept on the counter overnight. If I were planning to keep it for days, I would probably refrigerate or freeze. Always error on the side of caution.
I have been looking all over for a ‘similar’ recipe that my little polish grandma made… It was a staple when we were little… She probably made a couple loaves a week with no recipe.. Just sorry I never watched her.. In any event, her Babkas had golden raisins – never icing, crumbs, etc… Her Babkas were always round BIG AND HIGH! I did make it yesterday with the farmers cheese and I added golden raisins to the one half… The taste is VERY similiar! Only thing was didn’t seem to rise as much as I figured it should… Any tips? Also came out a little denser thanI thought! Do you think overall the rising is lessened by putting in fridge, as I had never heard of putting dough in overnight? Just curious.. Going to make again!!!