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cream cheese babka with swirls of blue, pink, yellow and green cream cheese

Easter Cream Cheese Babka

Tara Kringlen
Rich brioche dough is spread with pastel colored sweetened cream cheese, then rolled and twisted into a traditional babka shape. Baked until golden brown and brushed with sugar syrup, this babka is the perfect addition to your Easter brunch.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 35 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Rising Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 50 mins
Course Bread
Cuisine American, Eastern European
Servings 2 loaves (12 slices each loaf)
Calories 373 kcal

Ingredients
  

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 12 oz cream cheese softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 4 colors of food coloring

Babka Dough

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • cup sugar + 1 teaspoon sugar divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pkg active dry yeast about 2 ¼ tsp
  • 1 cup milk warmed to about 100-110 degrees
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 10 tablespoon unsalted butter very soft and cubed

Sugar Syrup

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water

Instructions
 

Cream Cheese Filling

  • Combine the cream cheese, sugar and extracts in a bowl and beat using an electric mixer until combined. Set aside until ready to fill the dough.
  • Divide the cream cheese filling evenly between 4 bowls. Color each bowl your desired color. I used pastel colors for Easter.

Babka Dough

  • Whisk together flour, ⅓ cup of sugar and salt in a bowl. Warm milk in the microwave for about 45 seconds or until a thermometer reads 100 to 110 degrees. Add the milk and 1 teaspoon sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a dough hook. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and stir to combine. Let stand for about 5 minutes until the yeast starts to foam.
  • Add eggs, vanilla, flour, sugar and salt to the yeast mixture. Mix on low speed until combined and then increase speed to medium low and mix for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth.
  • Add the softened butter by the tablespoon and mix on medium low about 4 minutes until butter is incorporated and dough comes together but is sticky. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 to 1 ½ hours until the dough is about doubled (or let rise in the refrigerator overnight). Punch down the dough and scrape out onto your surface. Divide the dough into 2 halves and shape into a rectangle. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and left refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up the dough before rolling it out.
  • Once chilled slightly, starting with one disc, roll the dough out on a floured surface to a 12 x 16 rectangle. Use a knife to lightly score the dough in half horizontally and then again on each half horizontally. (Do not cut through the dough! This is just a visual to spread each color of cream cheese inside the lines). You’ll have 4 long rectangles. Spread one color of cream cheese mixture in each of the 4 rectangles leaving a small ¼ inch border on the top edge of the top color. See the pictures above!
  • Starting with the long side without the border, roll the dough into a tight log.
  • Trim off about an inch from each side. Slice the dough down the middle lengthwise into 2 long halves with the layers exposed. Place the end of one of the halves over the top of the other half, pressing together lightly (see pictures above) and then braid the 2 pieces over one another to the bottom, again pressing together lightly. Repeat the last 2 steps with the other dough disc.
  • Line two, 9 x 5 loaf pans with parchment paper leaving an overhang on the long sides. Carefully place the braided dough into each loaf pan, squeezing the ends slightly to fit if needed. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for an hour.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and a tester comes out clean. You can also test it with an instant read thermometer. It should be about 185-190 degrees when done. If the top is browning too much, place a sheet of foil over it to allow it to cook through without the top burning. Immediately after taking out of the oven, brush each loaf with half the sugar syrup, using it all.
  • Cool a few minutes in the loaf pan and then transfer the babka using the parchment paper to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sugar Syrup

  • Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir, cooking on medium high until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.

Notes

  • Check out the post for detailed pictures on how to spread the cream cheese and twist the babka.
  • After cooling the babka completely, wrap it in plastic wrap or foil. It should be stored in the refrigerator due to the cream cheese. It will keep for about 5 days. Warm it in the microwave or toast it in a toaster if desired.
  • Freeze the babka loaf by wrapping it in a layer of plastic wrap, then foil and then placing it in a zip-top bag. The babka will keep for 1-2 months in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. 
  • To make the dough over 2 days, instead of the first rise, place it into the refrigerator overnight and then proceed with the recipe the next day.

Nutrition

Calories: 373kcal
Keyword babka, easter brunch
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