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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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 connects readers with traditional Polish recipes. Lois has a graduate certificate in Food Writing and Photography from the USF. She is the author of The Polish Housewife Cookbook, available on Amazon and on her website.