Introducing the delectable delight that is cheese babka! With its origins deeply rooted in Eastern European Jewish cuisine, cheese babka has become a beloved pastry cherished by people around the world. This rich and indulgent treat combines the soft and buttery texture of a traditional babka with a luscious filling of creamy cheese. The result is a heavenly combination of flavors that will leave you craving more.
WHAT IS A BABKA?
You probably already know but if you are asking yourself, what is Babka, then I have the answer, of course. Well, it’s a sweet braided yeast bread cake, that originated in Eastern Europe. Sometimes it's topped with crumbs and in most cases it's filled with chocolate. The dough of the babka is very rich and made with eggs, butter, and milk.
Every year when Shavuot arrives, the one holiday that is dedicated to milk and celebrated with a dairy festive meal I want to bake something cheesy special. Since my blog is vegetarian, all the recipes can easily fit this meal. Usually, my family celebrates Shavuot with quiches, salads, and of course – cheesecake, YUM! I already shared a classic cheesecake recipe and this time, I wanted to do something else. I bring you a twist to babka that is usually filled with chocolate, a delicious cheese babka.
how to make a cheese babka
To make this babka, you need to make the dough first and let it rise. After, you roll it, spread the filling and make a roll. The roll is then cut to 2 and you braid the 2 strands to get the braided look. This way the filling is shown on the outside of the cake so you don’t need to guess what it is.
This cheese babka is very comforting and delicious. I can have it any time of the day!
What can be better than sweet yeast dough with sweet cheese filling?
Tips for making cheese babka
Pay attention to the consistency of the dough. It should be soft, elastic, and slightly sticky. Adjust the amount of flour or liquid if needed to achieve the right texture.
In this recipe I used only farmers cheese. You can choose a cheese that melts well and has a creamy texture, such as cream cheese or a combination of farmer's cheese and ricotta. Ensure that the filling is smooth and spreadable for easy application.
Rolling the dough
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle of even thickness. Take care not to roll it too thin, as it may make the babka dense.
When spreading the cheese filling onto the rolled-out dough, aim for an even layer, leaving a small border around the edges. This ensures that the cheese is distributed throughout the babka without overflowing during the baking process.
Twisting or braiding technique
Follow a twisting or braiding technique to create the signature swirls of the babka. Take your time and be gentle to prevent tearing the dough. If needed, watch tutorial videos for visual guidance.
Allow the twisted or braided babka to rise in a warm, draft-free place until it has doubled in size. This step is crucial for achieving a light and airy texture.
Baking temperature and time
Preheat your oven to the recommended temperature stated in the recipe. Bake the babka until it turns golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Keep a close eye on it to prevent over-browning.
To keep your cheese babka fresh, store it in an airtight container or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. It can be kept at room temperature for a couple of days or refrigerated for a longer shelf life. Warm it slightly before serving to enhance the taste and texture.
Cheese babka and chocolate babka are both variations of the traditional babka pastry. The main difference lies in the filling. While cheese babka has a creamy cheese filling, chocolate babka is filled with rich, chocolatey goodness. The dough and overall preparation remain similar.
Absolutely! While farmer's cheese is commonly used for the filling, you can experiment with other cheeses as well. Some popular alternatives include cream cheese, ricotta, or a combination of different cheeses. The choice of cheese will affect the flavor and texture of the babka, so feel free to get creative!
Yes, cheese babka can be frozen. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and place it in an airtight container or freezer bag. Frozen cheese babka can be stored for up to 2-3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature before serving.
Yes, you can prepare the dough and filling in advance. After making the dough, you can refrigerate it overnight or for up to 24 hours. Make sure to cover it tightly with plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container. The filling can also be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to use.
Absolutely! I used raisins. If you want to enhance the flavor of your cheese babka, you can add additional ingredients to the filling. Some popular options include grated lemon zest, vanilla extract, cinnamon, or chopped nuts. Adjust the quantities according to your taste preferences.
To prevent your cheese babka from drying out, make sure not to overbake it. Follow the recommended baking time in your recipe and keep an eye on the babka as it bakes. If you find that your babka is browning too quickly, you can cover it loosely with aluminum foil during the later stages of baking.
Yes, you can make mini cheese babkas by dividing the dough and filling into smaller portions. Roll out each portion of the dough, spread the cheese filling, and then roll and twist or braid them individually. Adjust the baking time accordingly, as mini babkas will generally require less time in the oven.
Other bread and pastry recipes you should try:
Bake cheese babka today!
Cheese babka combines the soft and buttery texture of traditional babka with a creamy cheese filling. The dough is made with high-quality ingredients, rolled out, layered with cheese filling, and twisted or braided before baking to perfection. The result is a golden crust and a tender, flavorful interior. Cheese babka is enjoyed during holidays and special occasions, but its appeal extends far beyond that. Whether as a breakfast treat, afternoon indulgence, or dessert, cheese babka offers a harmonious blend of sweet and savory flavors. Its irresistible charm and culinary magic make it a beloved pastry for food enthusiasts everywhere.
For the dough:
- 3½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon dry yeast
- 1 stick (100 grams) butter melted
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup milk
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract / paste
For the filling:
- 2 cups farmer cheese
- 1 Egg
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup raisins
- In a stand mixer bowl, place all dough ingredients and knead with the kneading hook for 5 minutes until you get a unified dough.
- Grease the bowl and make sure all the dough is greased too, cover with plastic and let the dough rest in a warm place for about an hour.
- Set the oven to 180°C / 350°F with the fan.
- In a bowl, mix all the filling ingredients well.
- Divide the dough to 2 equal parts.
- Roll one part of the dough into a large rectangular leaf, about 3 to 4 mm thick.
- Spread half of the filling and roll the rectangle.
- Cut the roll in the middle.
- Braid the 2 strands and transfer to a greased loaf pan.
- Repeat with the second half of the dough.
- Bake the 2 loaves for 30 minutes.
- Cool at room temperature.
- Have a piece and enjoy!