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Cheese Babka Bread Recipe

Babka is a popular Polish Easter Bread. It’s an easy no-knead bread to make and there are so many variations to make it. Our Cheese Babka recipe is bright and flavorful with lemon zest and sweetened cream cheese and a moist crumb that will make you swoon.

Cheese Babka sliced on a cooling rack.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

No knead.

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. Add fillings or glazes. This recipe can be changed up in so many different ways.

Equipment Needed

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: Butter, yeast, flour, egg, vanilla, lemon peel, cream cheese, sugar, salt, sour cream, milk.

Ingredients for Cheese Babka Dough

  • 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 super market.
  • 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.
  • 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 Sugar.
  • Sour Cream. Balances out the sugar in the filling to intensify the cheese flavor.
  • Egg.
  • Vanilla Extract.
  • Dried Lemon Peel. I used fresh lemon peel and prefer fresh. I’m not sure why the original recipe called for dried.
  • Butter.
rolled out babka dough on a cutting board with cheese filling spread.

Please note, that the recipe card has more complete instructions. This is intended as an overview.

How to Make Cheese Babka

Step One. Proof the Yeast.

This step of adding yeast to warm water with sugar allows you to insure 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 farmers’ 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 before serving.

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!

Whole babka with one slice removed.

Variations

Not all recipes call for the dough to be stuffed and rolled such as this
one. Some are baked in a loaf pan.

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.

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.

Top down view of cheese babka with one slice removed on a plate.

FAQ

Is Babka a popular bread in Poland?

Yes, it is a very popular bread in Poland, specifically Northern
Poland. There are as many recipes for Babka as there are families that
make it.

What does Babka mean?

It comes from Baba means “old-woman” or Grandmother.

Tips for The Best Cheese Babka Ever

Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic before the first rise.

Twist the dough evenly for best results. After you spread the filling over the dough, the recipe has you roll the bread into a log and then twist it into a rope. 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.

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

Sliced Polish cheese babka loaf.

Cheese Babka Bread Recipe

Author: Hostess At Heart
Cheese Babka is a Polish bread traditionally made for Easter. This loaf is filled with cream cheese and brightened with lemon zest.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time 4 hrs
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Keyword: Babka, Cheese Babka
Servings: 12

Ingredients
  

Dough

  • 1 .25 ounce package active dry yeast
  • 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 farmers cheese or cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup white sugar

  • 1 1/2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 egg

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp dried lemon peel I used fresh

  • 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 remaining flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed until smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a round and place it in a large greased bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with a plastic dough and allow to rise at room temperature until doubled, approximately 1-1/2 hours.
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine the farmers’ cheese, sugar, sour cream, egg, vanilla extract and lemon peel. 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 over the surface of the dough and then the cheese 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, 1 hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees 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 to cool for at least 2 hours before slicing.

Notes

Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com

Nutrition

Serving: 12gCalories: 350kcalCarbohydrates: 43gProtein: 11gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 92mgSodium: 457mgPotassium: 85mgFiber: 1gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 408IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 36mgIron: 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!

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




Kim

Saturday 30th of November 2019

Hi there! I have been making this recipe for a couple years now and my family loves it. I have a question though, because the dough is always so sticky and hard to work with for me. I always end up adding more flour than is called for. Is that okay or am I doing something wrong? Also the filling is always overflowing, it gets kind of messy so I don’t know what I’m doing wrong there either. Either way it always is delicious in the end but I just wish I knew if I was doing something wrong or if this is just to be expected. Thank you so much, like I said my husband’s family who are Polish, love it!

Julie Menghini

Sunday 1st of December 2019

Hi Kim! You aren't doing anything wrong. This dough is very sticky. Your filling can seep out if you roll you dough tightly. That wouldn't bother me. I didn't roll mine very tightly and you can see that I ended up with a gap. I'm going to redo this one and experiment a bit. My new son-in-law is Polish! I'll have to make this for him. Thank you for stopping by and your lovely comment!

FrugalHausfrau

Friday 17th of April 2015

I thought your last bread looked great, but this one! My mouth is watering!

Julie is Hostess At Heart

Friday 17th of April 2015

Thank you! It was a show stopper. Sometimes the oven god shines on Julie's kitchen. :)

kudoskitchen

Wednesday 15th of April 2015

Your babka looks delicious and I love that you chose cream cheese and fresh lemon zest. I love the way you write too. Lovely post, lovely recipe.

Julie is Hostess At Heart

Sunday 26th of April 2015

I apologize for not responding earlier! Your message went to spam for some reason. I appreciate your commenting on the babka! It was delicious and so fun to put together.

Nancy

Tuesday 14th of April 2015

Bravo to you, Julie, for your successful Babka! It looks picture perfect and I imagine it tasted fabulous. Love your substitution of cream cheese for the farmer's cheese!

Julie is Hostess At Heart

Tuesday 14th of April 2015

Thank you Nancy! I saw where someone else had done that and I also liked that idea. So happy to hear from you!

stephysweetbakes

Tuesday 14th of April 2015

Julie bang up job on this and I just KNOW how amazing it was, I can smell it from here. We both share the love of breads and cakes, yummy lol

Julie is Hostess At Heart

Tuesday 14th of April 2015

Thank you! It was fun and did turn out well.