Jewish Cheese Babka Recipe

Cheese Babka
Cheese Babka. © Barbara Rolek
  • 80 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins,
  • Cook: 50 mins
  • Yield: 3 Cheese Babkas (30 servings)
Ratings (14)

This cheese babka recipe is one of my favorites. Instead of being baked in a swirly babka pan the Poles use, this recipe is baked in a loaf pan and has a streusel topping.

It's a delicious, rich version that is most commonly made in chocolate, cinnamon and almond varieties and, in my opinion, surpasses most Polish babkas I've tasted.

This recipe makes 3 loaves but they freeze very well. Freeze the leftover egg whites and save them for leftover egg white recipes.

See also this Polish Cheese Babka Recipe. Here's a larger picture of Jewish Cheese Babka.

What You'll Need

  • Dough:
  • 2 packages yeast (active dry)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup water (warmed 110 F)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 ounces butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large egg yolks (room-temperature, beaten)
  • 5 cups flour (all-purpose)
  • Filling:
  • 2 1/4 pounds/36 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 3 large egg yolks (room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • Egg Wash:
  • 1 large egg white (room temperature,  beaten)
  • Crumb Topping:
  • 6 tablespoons flour (all-purpose)
  • 8 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter (cold)

How to Make It

Make the Dough

  1. Stir yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar into warm water. Set aside until frothy. Grease three (9-by-5-inch) loaf pans.
     
  2. Scald the milk and place in a large mixing bowl or stand mixer. Add 4 ounces room-temperature butter and stir to melt. Add 1/2 cup sugar, salt, yeast mixture, and 3 beaten egg yolks.
     
  3. Add flour and knead until shiny and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, turning to coat both sides, cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled. This may take as long as 2 hours.

    Make the Cheese Filling

    • In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese, 3 egg yolks and 1 1/2 cups sugar until smooth. Set aside.  

    Make the Crumb Topping

    • In a small bowl, prepare the crumb topping by mixing together 6 tablespoons flour and 8 tablespoons sugar and cutting in 4 tablespoons cold butter as for pie dough. Set aside.

    Assemble the Cheese Babkas

    1. Punch down risen dough and divide into three parts. Working with one part at a time and covering the rest, roll into a large rectangle 1/8-inch thick.
       
    2. Spread dough with 1/3 of the cheese filling. Fold in the sides of dough and roll up tightly as for a jellyroll. Place in one of the prepared pans. Brush with beaten egg white and sprinkle with 1/3 of the crumb topping.
       
    3. Repeat with remaining dough and remaining two loaf pans. Cover loaf pans with greased plastic wrap and let rise until above the rim of the pan.
       
    4. Place rack in center of oven and heat to 350 degrees. Bake babkas for 40 to 50 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 190 degrees. Let cool in pan 5 minutes. Using a knife, loosen babka from sides of pan. Cool completely in the loaf pan. Then turn out onto a rack.