Cheese Babka

cheese babka, by the kosher foodies

I love baking babka. And I don’t use my challah dough when baking a giant batch. Nope, instead I make a buttery (or fake buttery) dough that’s soft, fluffy, and all around delicious, ready for the filling of chocolate, cinnamon, or in this case cheese! I’ve made this recipe a whole bunch of times until I perfected it. And I found that this dough is just perfect for babka. It’s sweet, soft, and delicate, and everyone just loves it. If you’re making a brunch (like we did here) it’s the perfect addition to the meal. The plus side is that there are so many different ways to serve this. As individual rolls, in a big bundt pan, or rolled like a regular babka. Plus, it freezes well, so you can always bake one for tomorrow and save the other for your next party. 

cheese babka, by the kosher foodies

cheese babka, by the kosher foodies

The filling is a danish filling. Which is what makes it so delicious! And the dough, while not the easiest thing in the world to make, is a whole lot easier than all those folds and rolls of making danishes. Not that I don’t love doing that, too. But look how pretty these are! No one will miss the danish dough. And I know from experience that people love these babkas (I made about 4 batches in a month, so I shared with all my colleagues, family, and friends. Yeah, everyone loved them).

cheese babka, by the kosher foodiesIMG_4554cheese babka, by the kosher foodies

Cheese Babka, makes 2:


For the dough:

  • 3/4 cup warm whole milk
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast (or two 1/4-oz packages)
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
  • 2 whole large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) butter, cut into pieces and softened

For the filling:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

cheese babka, by the kosher foodiescheese babka, by the kosher foodies


  1. Make the dough: First mix the milk with 2 teaspoons of sugar. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes, or until it foams.
  2. Combine 1/2 cup of flour to the yeast in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  3. Add the eggs, vanilla, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and beat at medium speed until combined.
  4. Reduce speed to low and slowly mix in the remaining 2 3/4 cups of flour.
  5. Increase speed to medium and beat in butter, a few pieces at a time. Let it beat until the dough is shiny and stringy, about 4 minutes.
  6. Scrape the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let it rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until doubled.
  7. Make the filling: Combine all filling ingredients in a stand mixer and beat until smooth.
  8. Assemble babkas: Grease and flour two loaf pans, or line them with parchment paper.
  9. Punch down the dough and cut it in half.
  10. Roll out one half onto a floured surface, and roll it out into a 10 x 18-inch rectangle, with a long side facing you.
  11. Spread half the filling over the dough.
  12. Roll the babka: Starting from the long side farthest from you, roll the dough into a tight log. Make sure to pinch the edges to seal.
  13. Now you can either shape the babka into logs (as seen here) or following these directions for individual babka rolls, or put them all together for an interesting looking swirly babka cake.
  14. Cut the roll into 12 pieces.
  15. Place into individual muffin tins – or – spread each slice individually around a bundt pan.
  16.  Cover babkas loosely with greased plastic wrap.
  17. Let rise at room temperature for 2 hours, or until the dough reaches the top of the pan. You can also let them rise in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours, but make sure to bring to room temperature for 3-4 hours before baking.
  18. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40-45 minutes for the big cake and 20-25 minutes for the individuals.
  • Oh do these look fabulous and I think you are so smart to use a softer, sweeter dough for them. I would love a piece right now and am going to print the recipe. I recently tried (bakery) mini babkas that look like the ones you bake together. Have you ever considered doing that?

    • baking individual mini ones? i bake them all different ways – just love baking babka!

  • yum, jess! these are the best!

  • Wow! That looks so decadent and delicious!

    • it is definitely decadent! not an every day food.

  • Definitely need patience for this, I think it might just be worth it!

    • the best things always do…and usually are worth it (i can vouch for this one)

      • noemi

        hi jessica i did the recipe to the T and the dough was so sticky ..i let the dough raised for 2 hr and it was still sticky so i put more flour and i knead the dough …then i rolled the dough out and add the filling and am leting it rise …y was it so sticky ?

        • sometimes dough is just finicky like that, could be the way ingredients were measured, or even the weather. hope adding flour made it turn out okay in the end!

  • Whitney @ Jewhungry

    I second Hindy! Decadent and delicious. One of those ‘special shabbat treat’ recipes

    • haha i don’t make it for shabbat, though i really could. i just love making brunch things and this fits the bill for the most decadent kind of brunch dish ever.

  • LilMissCakes

    These look amazing! My tummy is rumbling.

  • Chanie@BusyInBrooklyn

    OMG these look downright sinful. I want one right now!

  • You are killing me… LOVE how this looks!

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  • donnarrivera

    Like noemi’s comment below, i realized there is far too little flour in this recipe. I ended up having to add at least two more cups of flour just so the dough would stick together. I then checked other recipes and realized, compared to other recipes with similar ingredients, 3 3/4 cups of flour should definitely read 5 3/4 cups of flour. The ingredients are rolled, cut and placed in the bundt pan for the second rising, and i am hoping this rises.