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Cheese Babka Recipe (Polish Easter Bread)

Cheese Babka recipe is a Polish bread recipe that is a popular dessert during Easter and other holidays, but it can be enjoyed year-round as a delicious and flavorful bread.

A loaf of cheese babka bread next to slices of the bread - Hostess At Heart
Cheese Babka – Polish Easter Bread

Traditional Babka includes a filling made of sweetened cream cheese and lemon zest. This Cheese Babka recipe is a variation. This filling is spread onto the rolled-out dough, which is then twisted and baked to create a delicious and moist bread with a tangy and sweet flavor.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Beautiful – This loaf of bread will wow anyone at your table. It looks difficult but is fun and easy to make.

Flexible. I’m showing two different ways to make our cheese babka bread recipe. You can bake it in a bundt pan, or make a freeform loaf. Both end up gorgeous, lofty and delicious!

Versatile. There are many variations of Babka, including savory versions with fillings such as cheese, chocolate, spinach, or meat. Other sweet variations include Nutella, apple-cinnamon, or poppyseed fillings.

Equipment Needed

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Baking Pan. Depending on the shape desired, I used a bundt pan but it can be baked on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or in a loaf pan.

Ingredients for Cheese Babka Dough

Ingredients for Polish Babka Bread including yeast, cream cheese, egg, lemon, milk, butter, sugar, and vanilla extract.
  • Active Dry Yeast. Check the expiration date and purchase new before the holiday if needed. It can be hard to find yeast if you wait to close to certain holidays so plan in advance. You will usually find it near the flour at your local supermarket. You can also store it in your refrigerator.
  • Warm Water. 110ºF is the perfect temperature for proofing yeast.
  • Unsalted Butter. If you only have salted butter, reduce the salt in the recipe.
  • White Granulated Sugar. You will use a small amount to proof the yeast and then a larger amount when you mix the bread.
  • Salt. Fine sea salt is what I use in my bread recipes. I find that it blends and dissolves better than coarser grains. Use what you prefer.
  • Vanilla Extract. Did I mention it’s a dessert bread?
  • Milk.
  • Eggs.
  • All-Purpose Flour.

Ingredients for the Filling

  • Cream Cheese. The original recipe called for Farmer’s cheese which will also work.
  • White granulated sugar.
  • Sour Cream. Balances out the sugar in the filling to intensify the cheese flavor.
  • Egg.
  • Vanilla Extract.
  • Lemon zest. I used fresh lemon zest. The original recipe called for dried lemon peel.
  • Butter. Salted or unsalted.

Please note, that the printable recipe card has ingredient quantities, complete instructions, and nutritional information. The following is a quick overview of the recipe.

How to Make Cheese Babka

Step One. Proof the Yeast.

Yeast activated in a mixing bowl. Hostess At Heart
Bubbly activated yeast

This step of adding yeast to warm water with sugar allows you to ensure that the yeast is still active before using any other ingredients trying to make bread with bad yeast.

Step Two. Mix the remaining cheese babka recipe ingredients to form a dough.

After combining everything according to the instructions, let the dough rise.

Step Three: Mix the cheese babka filling.

Combine the cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, egg, vanilla extract, and lemon peel.

Step Four: Form the loaf.

This step is similar to making cinnamon rolls. Spread the filling on the dough, then roll it up and let it rise again.

Step Five: Bake the bread.

After baking the bread for approximately 45 minutes, let it cool slightly completely before serving.

A loaf of bread that was shaped by twisting and rising in a bundt pan - Hostess At Heart
Polish Cheese Babka Bread

What to Serve with Polish Cheese Babka

Our recipe for cheese babka is delightful when served with a traditional Easter dinner and works well as an accompaniment for many different meals alongside meat and veggies. It could also be a stand-alone breakfast or snack!

Variations

Not all recipes call for the dough to be stuffed and rolled such as this
one. Some are baked in a loaf pan or with no pan at all.

I made a cheese babka using cream cheese. You could use farmer’s cheese.

Some recipes include dried fruits such as raisins.

Almonds, walnuts, or pecans can be added to this bread.

Bread shaped and baked in a bundt pan next to slices of the bread - Hostess At Heart

How To Store Leftover Cheese Babka

Best Way To Store Polish Babka Bread

I recommend refrigerating because of the cream cheese. You can keep it wrapped in plastic wrap, place it in a plastic baggy, or store it in an airtight container. It will keep for up to five days.

Can I Freeze/Thaw Polish Cheese Babka

Yes. Place it in the freezer in an airtight container for up to three months. Thaw at room temperature.

Hostess Tips for the Perfect Cheese Babka Recipe

  • Knead the dough properly: Proper kneading is crucial to developing gluten, which gives the bread structure and texture. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth, elastic, and slightly tacky. This usually takes around 8-10 minutes of kneading by hand or 5-7 minutes with a stand mixer.
  • Don’t overfill the dough: When spreading the filling on the rolled-out dough, make sure to leave a border around the edges. Overfilling can cause the filling to leak out during baking, resulting in a messy babka.
  • Create tight rolls: When rolling the dough into a log shape, make sure to roll it tightly. This will help prevent the filling from escaping. I make my first twist in the center and work to each end.
  • Cool completely: While the aroma of freshly baked bread may be enticing, it’s worth practicing patience and allowing the bread to cool before slicing.
    • Bread continues to cook internally even after it is removed from the oven. During the cooling process, the residual heat evaporates moisture, allowing the bread to set and firm up. Slicing into hot bread can result in a gummy or doughy texture, as it hasn’t had enough time to fully bake and set.

If you liked this twisted bread recipe, here are a few more you may enjoy.

An image of slices of cheese babka bread on a cooling rack with the title running through the top for Pinterest - Hostess At Heart

Don’t forget to let us know how much you loved this Polish Cheese Babka recipe!

Tableview image of slices of cheese babka bread slices in front of the uncut loaf - Hostess At Heart

Cheese Babka Recipe – Polish Easter Bread

Author: Hostess At Heart
Cheese Babka recipe is a Polish bread recipe that is a popular dessert during Easter and other holidays, but it can be enjoyed year-round as a delicious and flavorful bread.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 4 hours
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Keyword: Babka, Cheese Babka
Servings: 16

Equipment

Ingredients
 
 

Dough

  • .25 oz active dry yeast 1 packet
  • 1/8 tsp white sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm water 110 degrees F
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted

  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 3/4 cup

    milk


    warmed
  • 3 eggs

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour divided

Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups cream cheese or farmer's cheese
  • 1/3 cup white sugar

  • 1 1/2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 egg

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp butter melted

Instructions
 

  • In a small bowl sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of sugar over the warm water and stir to dissolve.  Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  • Combine the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, milk, eggs, and 1 cup of flour and mix well. Add the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Gradually add the remaining flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.
    Shape the dough into a round and place it in a large greased bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise at room temperature until doubled, approximately 1-1/2 hours.
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine the cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, egg, vanilla extract, and lemon zest. Beat together until smooth. Set aside. Lightly oil a bundt pan.
  • Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a 10-inch by 12-inch rectangle.  Spread the 2 tablespoons of butter over the surface of the dough and then the cheese filling over the butter.  
    Roll the dough up like a jelly roll, starting from the long end; twist the dough 6 to 8 times to form a rope.  Pinch the seams and ends closed and arrange the rope of dough in the greased pan.  Cover loosely and let rise for 1 hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 °F.  Bake until deep golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes; invert onto a wire rack and remove the pan.  Allow the bread to cool for at least 2 hours before slicing.

Notes

Hostess Tips for the Perfect Cheese Babka Recipe

  • Knead the dough properly: Proper kneading is crucial to developing gluten, which gives the bread structure and texture. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth, elastic, and slightly tacky. This usually takes around 8-10 minutes of kneading by hand or 5-7 minutes with a stand mixer.
  • Don’t overfill the dough: When spreading the filling on the rolled-out dough, make sure to leave a border around the edges. Overfilling can cause the filling to leak out during baking, resulting in a messy babka.
  • Create tight rolls: When rolling the dough into a log shape, make sure to roll it tightly. This will help prevent the filling from escaping. I make my first twist in the center and work to each end.
  • Cool completely: While the aroma of freshly baked bread may be enticing, it’s worth practicing patience and allowing the bread to cool before slicing.
    • Bread continues to cook internally even after it is removed from the oven. During the cooling process, the residual heat evaporates moisture, allowing the bread to set and firm up. Slicing into hot bread can result in a gummy or doughy texture, as it hasn’t had enough time to fully bake and set.
Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com
We baked this bread in a bundt pan but it could be baked in a loaf pan.

Nutrition

Serving: 16gCalories: 308kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 7gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 83mgSodium: 318mgPotassium: 103mgFiber: 1gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 592IUVitamin C: 0.2mgCalcium: 50mgIron: 2mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

This recipe was calculated using the exact brands and measurements I used to make this recipe. If you are following a strict diet please note changing anything will cause the nutritional info to change. My calculations are intended as a guide only.

Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!

The first time I made this bread, I was a bit nervous doing this because I didn’t want all of my filling to squish out. I ended up twisting the bottom a bit tighter than the top. The result was that I didn’t lose the filling but there was a gap where the filling met the dough at the end that was rolled loosely.

These are updated images showing the filling was nicely incorporated into the bread. The following image is of my first efforts after the recipe card.

A slice of Cheese Babka Bread sitting on an antique pie tin with the sliced loaf in the background.
First Babka Image

This recipe was previously shared in 2015. I’ve added new images and tips to improve readers’ experience. No changes were made to the recipe.

As many of you know, one of my goals is to learn more about baking and cooking. Bread is one of those things that I wanted to learn more about. I love baking bread, but there are some very technical aspects to baking bread that I have yet to master. I was pretty excited to try this Cheese Babka.

With Easter, I wanted to find a bread that would work on my table. I went online and started investigating “holiday breads”. The recipe that I decided to make was called Cheese Babka and it said that it was a Polish bread traditionally made for Easter.

This recipe exceeded my expectations. It has a sweetened cream cheese filling flavored with lemon zest. The crumb was moist as was the crust. It’s baked in a bundt pan and is so pretty and stands tall when it’s popped from the pan.

I learned a few things when I made this bread.

I made a few changes to the ingredients. The recipe calls for farmers’ cheese and I substituted cream cheese. It also called for dried lemon peel. I used fresh, and can’t imagine doing it any other way. I will definitely use this technique again. This bread is delicious!

TwelveLoaves is no longer active but the amazing recipes from our baking party are!

Recipe Rating




Yolanta

Saturday 8th of April 2023

I gave your Polish Babka recipe five stars because, let's be honest, it turned out great, and judging by the smell in my kitchen it will taste incredibly delicious! The aroma filled my home and it was an aroma that made your mouth water. I cannot wait to try it on Easter morning with my Kielbasa and Easter eggs. Thank you for sharing the recipe!

Julie Menghini

Monday 10th of April 2023

Thank you so much, Yolanta! What a wonderful heartfelt comment. I hope everyone loved it on Easter and I'd love a bite of that Kielbasa and Easter eggs!

Nikki

Wednesday 29th of March 2023

I always get a little nervous baking bread. This was so easy to follow and turned out perfectly!

Julie Menghini

Wednesday 29th of March 2023

That makes my day! Thanks, Nikki!

Lynn

Wednesday 22nd of March 2023

I've never made a savory babka, and this one was great! Thanks for the recipe!

Julie Menghini

Thursday 23rd of March 2023

Thank you, Lynn! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Min

Monday 20th of March 2023

This was SO good! Super moist and very delicious. Cannot wait to make it again.

Julie Menghini

Wednesday 22nd of March 2023

Thank you, Min! It's a favorite in our house too!

Sheila Thigpen

Monday 20th of March 2023

This loaf is delicious and I absolutely love that it can be made in a bundt pan, too!

Julie Menghini

Monday 20th of March 2023

Thanks, Sheila! This is such a delicious bread recipe.

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