Cheese Babka

by Lisa on April 16, 2012

Alright, alright, we know.  It has been over 3 months since this blog was updated.  What can I say, life gets in the way sometimes!  To be honest, it’s just really hard for a working gal to take good food photos during the winter months.  Now that it stays light after 6pm, I’m good again.  Anyway, I’ve been cooking plenty – but this season on Domestic Pursuits, I plan to go with a fresh angle.  I tend to blog about healthy things to begin with, because I’m a pediatrician and as I’m sure everyone in the US probably knows by now, we are all battling an obesity epidemic. (Personally, I want to get back down to my pre-residency size – something about all those hours of overnight work makes you eat a whole lot of fried chicken fingers and midnight chocolate chip waffles!)

Anyway – just because we all should be careful to consider what we consume I wholeheartedly believe it does not mean we should have to eat icky things.  No rice cakes and Slim Fast over our house.  I’ve made it my goal to become more active and eat healthier this year, and this blog posting will be a good start…

…or not.  After all, I am going to start off my healthy kick by blogging about Cheese Babka.  Well, you’ve gotta eat something sweet sometime, or else you’ll fail at your goal!  So here you go, one more rich, delicious baked good posting before the healthy things begin.  This is an Easter treat with Eastern European roots that we enjoy at my in-laws every year, and as we were spending the holiday up north where there are less Eastern European bakeries to frequent, I decided I would whip some up myself.  Cheese is our preferred Babka – definitely no lesser Babka for our dinner!

Get the reference?

Making your own Babka is time consuming, but man is it worth the effort when you have checked every bakery in the area with no luck.  The perk is much of the time is unattended – ie, letting the dough rise and such.  Plus, this makes 3 loaves of Babka – so you can share with friends.  The recipe I found calls for a crumb topping – however, the Babka I usually enjoy does not have this so I simply omitted it.  Compared to other Babka recipes, this really is a healthier Babka – only 4oz butter, and I substituted one whole egg for 2 of the egg yolks.  Plus, I used light cream cheese.  It came out fantastic.

Cheese Babka – adapted from The Bakers Guide

Makes 3 loaves


  • 2 packages or the equivalent instant dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk, hot but not boiling
  • 4oz butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 5 cups (22.5oz by weight) all purpose flour, plus more if needed
  • 1 egg white beaten with 1 tbsp water for egg wash


  • 2 x 8oz packages of low-fat cream cheese at room temperature
  • 8oz by weight of sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons flour

Stir yeast and warm water together and set aside for about 5 minutes, or until mixture appears frothy.  Grease 3 standard-size loaf pans.  In the bowl of your trusty stand mixer, add hot milk, butter, sugar and salt mixing well until butter is melted.  To the warm milk mixture, add egg, egg yolk, and yeast mixture.  Add flour gradually to the bowl as the machine kneads using the hook attachment.  Knead for several minutes, or until dough appears smooth and elastic.  (I had to add a little extra flour at this point, probably about 1/4 cup more).  Place ball of dough into a greased bowl, turning to coat complete.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled – about 2-3 hours.

When dough is nearly completely risen, prepare cheese filling by combining all ingredients and mixing well.  Set aside.

Divide dough into 3 equal portions.  On a lightly floured surface, roll one portion out to approximately 1/4 inch thickness.  Spread 1/3 of cheese filling onto the dough.  Fold ends inward and roll the dough up, placing it seam-side downwards into the prepared loaf pans.  Repeat with the other 2 portions of dough.  Brush dough with the egg wash.  Cover lightly with greased plastic wrap (so the bread doesn’t stick to it!)  Let loaves rise again in a warm place for an additional 2 hours or until they again appear doubled, peeking over the tops of the loaf pans.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place 3 loaf pans side-by-side on a rack placed in the middle of the oven.  Bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the center of the loaf.  Cool in pan 5 minutes, then loosen the sides of the loaves.  Cool another 30 minutes.  Then remove loaves from the pans and let cool completely.  Enjoy!

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