Strawberry Cheese Babka
Updated: Jun 22, 2019
This little Babka draws from Slavic recipes: 3x kneaded, buttery and egg rich.
For fun we added freeze dried strawberries which mix really well with cream cheese and ricotta. Pink filling, fun swirl shape, strawberry pieces and pearl sugar are adding a little bit of oomph to this classic Slavic recipe.
Don’t be put off by the amount of kneading - it’s only 10-12 minutes of active work in total, most of the preparation time is idle: dough resting and baking phase.
Yield: 1 Babka, 12 servings
Active time: 2 hours
Tin: 21cm round tin
- 3 cups (450g) all-purpose flour + up to 1/5 cup (30g) for kneading
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated white sugar + 1 (15g) tablespoon for yeast proofing
- 1 cup (250ml) full fat milk
- 3 egg yolks and 1 large egg, room temperature
- 75g unsalted butter, melted
- 25 g active bulk dry yeast or 7g (1 packet) instant dry yeast
*cup 250ml cup
Strawberry cheese filling:
- 1/2 cup powdered freeze dried strawberries
- 500g white soft cream cheese
- 100g ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated white sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- egg whites (left over from the dough) + 2 tablespoons milk
- pearl sugar
1. Strawberry Cheese Filling: On medium speed mix white cream cheese and ricotta for 1 minute, add sugar, egg, vanilla extract and mix for another 1 minute. Add powdered strawberries and gently stir with the spoon until just combined. Set aside.
2. Yeast proofing: Mix 1 tablespoon sugar with milk and warm up to 38C. Add dry yeast to the mixture or if you work with active bulk dry yeast mix it with 25ml warm milk until smooth consistency is achieved and then add to the mixture. Sprinkle with a little bit of flour on top. Cover with cling film or dry kitchen tea towel and leave in warm place for 15 minutes. You should see the yeast foaming and bubbling up. If you don't, repeat the step.
3. Prepare the dough: Melt butter, set aside. Beat sugar with 3 egg yolks and 1 egg until creamy (3-5 minutes). Sift flour into the large bowl (should be big enough to let the dough double in volume). Add melted butter, sugar/egg mixture and yeast mixture. Knead the dough until it’s elastic, soft and pulls away from your hand (8-10 minutes, keep adding flour to get desired texture - 3 Tablespoons max). If you have stand mixer - attach dough hook and let it work on low-medium speed for approx 7 minutes. First rest phase will take 90 minutes in total (you will de-gas the dough twice in that time). Once the dough is done sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour on top and cover with cling film or cotton tea towel, place for 30 minutes in a warm place to let the yeast work its magic. After that time punch the dough and knead again for 2 minutes (1st degasing), let it rest for another 20 minutes and again punch/knead for 2 minutes (2nd degasing) and let it rest for another 15 minutes. You need to sense the dough literally growing and rising in your hands and have fairly airy, buttery structure. After last kneading, cover the dough with kitchen towel and leave to rest for the last 20 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 175C. Line round tin with parchment paper.
5. Shape the swirl: Split the dough in half, roll out the dough into two 2cm thick rectangles. Spread Strawberry Cheese Filling and roll rectangles into tight logs. Cut the log in half lengthwise (can be a bit messy so get a sharp knife and a bit of ice cold water to wash the knife in case you need it). Criss-cross one half side down, on top of the other half- forming an X. Twist the two logs together. Place on parchment paper in the round tin forming the swirl shape and let it rest covered for 15 minutes in warm place before baking. Brush the top with egg wash just before baking and sprinkle with pearl sugar.
6. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 175C or until golden brown. Once baked cool for 10 minutes, remove from the tin and cool on the cooling rack for 30minutes before serving.
- Before baking you may opt to read this post about Working with Yeast.
- Shaping - you may find this video helpful.
- Freeze dried strawberries - buy on Amazon large buckets (great for cake filling, frosting, icing, cupcakes etc). Really worth the extra effort as you won’t get the same effect with fresh strawberries (the filling will be too wet and will lack strawberry flavour).
Jazz things up:
- Play around with filling:
a) peanut butter spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg + 2 tablespoons of granulated white sugar b) chocolate (Nutella)
d) 500g chopped apples + cinnamon + 1/2 cup granulated sugar - cook on low heat for 15 minutes and use as Babka filling
d) melted butter+ cranberries + roasted pecan nuts+ spices (allspice, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon) and sprinkle of light brown sugar