Apricot Cream Cheese Babka
I’ve realized that I’ve totally dropped the ball on my bread-baking this year. Aside from trying new recipes, I’d really like to start baking bread once a week for sandwiches. I decided to get back into my bread groove with this fabulous babka. I made babka once before around the holidays – the traditional chocolate babka, which is just as amazing as you might imagine it to be. Before a few months ago, I hadn’t seen many other versions of babka until this apricot and cream cheese variation popped onto my computer screen. I was immediately smitten with the pictures and saved it to bake sooner rather than later. The bread turned out just as fabulous as I hoped it would, perhaps even better.
While on the surface, this may look like a complicated recipe, it’s actually much simpler than it appears. A simple sweet dough is mixed together and allowed to raise, while the fillings and crumb topping are made. When it comes time to shape the bread, the dough is rolled out into a massive rectangle, spread with the apricot filling, then the cream cheese filling, and is rolled and shaped in such a way so that the amount of filling is maximized in every bite.
Then, throw on a crumb topping. Who can resist a crumb topping? Not I.
This bread tastes like the most amazing fruit and cream cheese Danish you’ll ever eat. The bread is soft and sweet and the apricot-cream cheese filling is packed into every single slice. A crunchy topping provides the perfect contrast in both taste and texture. This babka makes morning coffee with a friend (or just your favorite book or newspaper) a little extra-special. I think it’s perfectly acceptable for breakfast, a snack or dessert.
Babka was a perfect way to jump back into my bread-baking ways. If you’re new to bread or are just looking to try something new, I can’t say enough fantastic things about this bread. Be sure to put it on your to-bake list!
One year ago: Tamale Pie
Two years ago: Cream Cheese Brownies and Double-Chocolate Loaf with Peanut Butter-Cream Cheese Spread
Three years ago: Salted Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
Four years ago: The Signature Salad
Five years ago: Black-and-White Banana Loaf
Six years ago: Red Pepper Hummus
Apricot Cream Cheese Babka
For the Dough:
- 1¾ cups (218.75 g) + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- Pinch of salt
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- ⅓ cup (81.33 ml) whole milk, lukewarm
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the Apricot Filling:
- 1½ cups (195 g) dried apricots
- ½ cup (124 ml) orange juice
- ⅓ cup (81.33 ml) lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
For the Cream Cheese Filling:
- 8 ounces (226.8 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
For the Streusel:
- ¾ cup (93.75 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 4½ teaspoons (4.5 teaspoons) light brown sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 3½ tablespoons (3.5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
For the Egg Wash:
- 1 egg
- Pinch of salt
- 1. Make the Dough: Place the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Stir on medium-low speed for a minute or so to combine. Add the egg, milk, vanilla and butter and mix on medium speed until a smooth dough forms, about 5 minutes. Form into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a draft-free area until doubled in volume (about 1 hour). While the dough rests, make the fillings and streusel.
- 2. Make the Apricot Filling: Combine the dried apricots, orange juice, lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apricots soften and the liquid is reduced by half. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. Once cool, transfer the mixture to a food processor and process until a puree forms. Set aside at room temperature.
- 3. Make the Cream Cheese Filling: In a medium bowl, stir the cream cheese and sugar with a wooden spoon until smooth and lump-free. Add the egg yolk, vanilla extract and salt, and stir to combine. Set aside at room temperature.
- 4. Make the Streusel: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars and salt. Add the butter and mix with a rubber spatula until the mixture comes together into large, coarse crumbs. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- 5. Assemble the Babka: Lightly grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan; set aside.
- 6. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a 10x24-inch rectangle, with the long edge facing you. Spread the apricot filling evenly over the dough, leaving a ½-inch border along all of the edges. Spread the cream cheese filling over the apricot filling.
- 7. Starting with the bottom edge, roll the dough into the middle of the rectangle, then do the same with the top edge so that the two rolls meet in the center. Visualize the long cylinder divided into three equal lengths. Fold the left third over onto the middle third. Then, fold the right third over the middle third. Pick up the dough and turn it over so the seam is on the bottom. Then, holding each end, gently twist it in the middle and place it in the prepared pan.
- 8. Whisk together the egg and salt for the egg wash and brush it over the babka. Lightly cover the pan with plastic wrap and place it in a draft-free area until it is doubled in size, 1½ to 2 hours.
- 9. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush the babka once again with the egg wash and sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top, pressing lightly so the crumbs adhere to the babka. Bake until the top is a deep golden brown, about 50 minutes. Cool the bread in the pan set on a wire rack for 25 minutes, then unmold the bread from the pan (some of the streusel may fall off) and place on the wire rack to cool completely. The bread will keep, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.
Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!
Can you use fresh apricots for the filling?
Easier than anticipated. I did substitute apricot preserves for the puree. I also used the extra egg white for the wash and mixed the excess into streusel. The last bit was mentioned by another reviewer. It came out great and the streusel stayed in place. Great recipe! Thank you.
Really great recipe! I made it and it turned out delicious! Along with the apricot filling, I added a little bit of orange marmalade too. I thought the addition of a little more filling made the bread extra moist.
I just went to a Polish bakery and purchased a cheese babka. I was so disappointed in it. Barely any cheese in it and the bread was not sweet at all. Just came across this recipe and I intend to make it this weekend. I am salivating and scared since I’ve never baked one. Will let you know hot it turns out.
Dear Michelle: I have made your recipe twice, sort of. I used my bread machine the first time, and mine will do the shimmy-shimmy shake if the dough doesn’t have enough liquid in it. I added some water and made the mistake of not looking again, because it was quiet, and I assumed it was OK. Not-the paddle was out in the pan so I had to finish that dough manually. It turned out very nicely, but the streusel fell like rain when I tried to take it out of the pan. I didn’t use parchment paper-I do now.
The second time, my third babka, after doing the Cinnamon one from Cook’s Country-same as the one on your site, was the Apricot Cream Cheese as a Prune Cream Cheese. It turned out really well. I combined a lot of different elements. I put an extra 1/6th of a cup of water in the dough, and the machine handled it beautifully.
When I assembled it, I used the Cinnamon Babka rolling method from Cook’s, did the egg wash, used the parchment, AND-your streusel will stay on very well if you add a bit of egg white to it. The ratio is 1 large egg white per 2 cups of streusel, so you have to cut it down for a smaller amount of streusel. It makes the streusel a bit firmer and crisper, but not so that you can’t slice it.
I don’t have a stand mixer with a paddle, so for the Cinnamon Babka, I used a hand-held with the bread dough hooks. I didn’t think in time to haul out the very heavy and very old Sunbeam stand mixer I inherited. If I do the cinnamon version again, I will try to remember. It was 5-star, too, btw, but more of a babka for “state occasions” as it’s VERY leaded. Your babka recipe is a lot lighter and still very good.
Thank you for posting this recipe. I had taken photos of the long babka recipe and it’s various fillings in Allrecipes magazine at my chiropractors’ office. I have to view them in zoom mode so I can read them and transcribe them-don’t ask-and there were several fractions in fillings that I couldn’t read, and that led me to your recipe. I now have the correct fractions for their fillings, and that is a very nice article. I have not tried their recipe yet as it makes 3 and I don’t need that many at one time, although the slices do freeze beautifully, but I don’t have the freezer space right now, either. That recipe with its walnut filling, which I can’t have, is now online at Allrecipes, but the other fillings in the article are not.
Hi Kathy, I’m so glad you enjoyed it, thanks so much for leaving a review!
I love this reciepe. Can you freeze these types of bread?
Hi Lauren, Yes, you can definitely freeze!
Couldn’t resist your photo so I HAD to make this for my apricot loving husband. Very, very good. I will make it again. It was worth the effort and time. A lot of steps and ingredients but not a hard to make bread. Thanks for posting it.
Do you use fresh squeeze lemon juice?
Yes, ideally! But if you’re in a pinch you could use bottled.
Tried this for the first time since I had a jar of apricot conserve from the San Francisco farmers market on hand and the loaf just came out of the oven. It looks gorgeous and has a nice dome. I used a Pyrex loaf pan so reduced the oven temp to 350 degrees and baked for 55 minutes until internal temp of the bread reigistered 185. Thank you for a lovely recipe. I figured I’d try out that pretty chocolate babka wreath too and give that to a friend as a gift tomorrow. Dough is in the fridge now.
Just an update to say the babka tasted as great as it looked. Unfortunately I described it too enthusiastically to my mother, so now I have to make another one to freeze and ship to Massachusetts. ?
Do you think this could be made and then frozen to keep for later?
Hi Krystal, Yes, absolutely!
Hi, I was just wondering, can I make this with apricot preserves? It looks incredible!
Hi Jessi, That might work, I would just make sure it’s on the thicker side.
Is there a way to make the dough in the breadmaker just to mix the dough instead of an electric mixer? Would anyone know how to change it over to this? Sorry, I don’t have an electric mixer and my hands are not good enough to do it by hand.
Hi Lyndsay, I have never used a bread maker, so I wouldn’t be able to give instructions on adapting this particular recipe for use in there. I’m sorry I couldn’t be more helpful!
my husband and I are making this tonight for our fancy TG breakfast in the morning. it has been SO MUCH FUN, and EASY. I used my bread machine for the dough (I have RA, not so fun kneading anymore), and despite its relatively tiny size, it worked fine in there. the toppings I enjoyed making. the streusel I already had leftover in a jar in the freezer. the dough behaved beautifully after its prep, a wonderful surprise after fighting with many a pizza crust. we laughed about your fantastically even layers of fillings… ours, not so much, but will TASTE good. the rolling and folding went much easier than we anticipated. he got to twist the loaf for the pan. it’s rising now, and we have good feelings about this. THANK YOU from geyserville.
yep, it was incredible. (I wonder about the unhappy commenter before me…. did you bake yours long enough? sounds underdone to me.) I mean, let me repeat, incredible! and beautiful! and tangy as heck! we shared with a friend, but just ONE friend. and now I have leftover home made cranberry strawberry rhubarb sauce from TG, which I,ll be using to make another babka. and we’ve been taking about chiles and cheese, too. this is a goodrecipe. thanks, brownie!
Normally the recipes here are winners, but this one wasn’t. For a babka I found it way too heavy and sweet. I did get nice swirls in my loaf though. My husband and I had a piece for breakfast and I couldn’t finish it because it was just too heavy. The cream cheese in the center is just not necessary. Sorry, I won’t be doing this again. I will say in its defense the bread basis is good, but the filling is another story.
I’ve just finished making this. It isn’t as easy as 1,2,3 to make. It looks like the picture. I haven’t cut it yet because it is cooling off. I hope I have swirls. Very pleased at this point.
This looks amazing! I’ve been on a huge bread kick lately so must try this asap. Any chance you have a guesstimate of how much the dough weighs? I’m making a bigger batch of dough but want to weigh the proportions to make sure they’re equal. (Yep, I’ve also recently read your post about measuring in weights and would like to give it a go!) Thanks in advance!
Hi Yvonne, I don’t know the exact weight. I would just weigh the whole thing, then divide by two.
This, my very first babka is rising with the egg wash on and looking good. Cant wait to try, looks lovely and the apricot filling is lush
ive also got my first batch of Apple butter in the slow cooker, 3 hours in.
I love your site and always share with my fb friends boasting how wonderful your recipes are. I’m not a stalker but you are my go-to page :)
Impressive. What about mini loaves? Everyone loves a mini! =)
made this today! its in the oven now.
love from Israel!
I just made this as mini-babkas, as my mum does not have a full loaf pan, just minis. I used an apricot jam, buzzed in the food processor with some extra OJ to thin it out some. It was about 3/4 C jam, and 3 tbsp. OJ. They are currently rising, but I was too excited to wait to post. After trying to make a few perfectly folded, I realized that even if it was a messy fold, it probably wouldn’t matter too much. I have had this on my to do list for quite some time, and I am quite pleased so far!
If I were to use prepared apricot filling, how much would be needed?
Hi Maryann, I didn’t measure it out; you’d want to cover the cream cheese with a thin layer, as pictured above. Maybe 1 cup? 1.5 cups? Somewhere around there.
I made this over the weekend and it was delicious! It was really easy to make based on the photos – thanks! The only complaint I have about this recipe is the apricot filling was a bit bitter. I think this is because of the orange juice addition. Next time (and I will be baking this often!) I will use apple juice instead. Thanks for a great recipe
Remember the homemade fig cookie bar recipe you posted a couple years back? I love that recipe! The filling is amazing. So I made that filling instead of apricot. Figs and cream cheese, yum! My babka turned out amazing and it was very easy to make overall. You just need some time. Can’t wait to try other fillings! Thank you Michelle!
Made this for Christmas morning and it is seriously tasty. So vibrantly fruity! It reminds me of our favorite little bakery’s boston kakku coffee cakes that they have in apricot, raspberry and almond. Only this was more intensely flavored (= better). I only get those once a year when we visit home, but I want to try modifying the shape similar to them to make the slicing easier. Thanks so much for sharing, this was totally delicious!
I made this yesterday and it is fantastic! I substituted apricot preserves I had put up this summer and it turned out great. I am making another loaf right now so I will have some to share with holiday guests!
I wouldn’t call this exactly easy, but it was definitely not as hard as it sounded. No kneading, and I found this dough easier to shape (less stretchy and springy) than regular yeast bread dough. Mine wasn’t nearly as beautiful as yours but it tasted great and my family liked it! And the step-by-step pictures were super helpful.
I made this last night and used peaches instead of Apricots as the store was sold out. Also used skim milk and low fat cream cheese and it came out beautifully. Thanks for posting this awesome recipe
I made this recipe, as well as a lemon blueberry version (with dried blueberries and lemon zest). Delicious!
GORGEOUS! Look at those swirls!
Assuming I can find a 10×24″ space of open/clean counter in my kitchen, which will be a trick indeed, I intend on trying this out as soon as possible! :D
I NEED this! Apricots are one of my favorite things to eat but I have a very difficult time finding them!
I have an incredible weaknes for this kind of sweet bread, whether it’s chocolate, or cinnamon or fruit or just some sweet ricotta cheese like my grandma used to make, I can’t resist it.
This apricot cream cheese filling looks amazing
Oh man, this looks SO amazing!! Love your photos!
Gorgeous!!! And a great tutorial, too. Forming babka takes practice and yours looks perfect. I do love chocolate babka, but may have to give this one a try. It looks very yummy!
This reminds me of the coffee cakes of my youth, but about a million times better. Crumb topping on yeast bread? Yes, please!
Your babka looks amazing! I’m salivating here!
The step by step photos will be useful to many people, I’m sure.
How funny, my friend JUST mentioned a Babka at lunch today and I don’t think I’ve ever even tasted one. Can’t wait to give this a try.
Oh wow this looks so impressive! I’m going to start making breads and will have to put this on my list
Looks like a great recipe. I might try it with spreading a layer of homemade jam in for the apricot layer.
I’ve ALWAYS wanted to make Babka! And now that I’ve seen it with fruit and cream cheese?! I have to! Thank you for making it sound so easy!
Oh my word this looks AMAZING! I’m going to make this sometime this week! :)
This is so beautiful looking!! I bet it tastes just as good!
I am in love with this bread!! Gorgeous!
This is BEAUTIFUL! What do you think about dried cherries? The other filling ingredients would have to change, too, right? Could you freeze this bread before baking or would you freeze just the dough? This just moved to the top of my list…thank you for sharing (and such great step-by-step pics, too.)
Hi Stephanie, I think you could use dried cherries; you wouldn’t need to change any of the other ingredients. I would not freeze this dough; I would prepare the bread the whole way through, bake it, then let it cool and freeze it if you’d like.
Wow! Thank you so much. I want to make this for my grandma and her friends, but she can’t have apricots. I hope to report back soon!
This is so gorgeous and marble-ey!!! Totally amazing!! I’m not sure I am brave enough to attempt this recipe. But I am having loads of fun admiring yours!
Wonder if this could be made with dried cherries as well? It looks ab-fab, but hubby is not a huge apricot fan, though this babka may win him over. Think I’ll try the original first and then play a bit. Hmmm….
Hi Michelle, I think dried cherries could work. Let me know how it goes!
I have been on such an apricot kick lately! I will swing by the bulk bins and pick up a small bagful each day, or else I would eat pounds of them in one sitting! So excited about this bread. I’m looking forward to giving it a try!
I’ve been slacking on my bread baking too. The kids head back to school next week though, so I won’t have an excuse anymore! I’ve never had babka, so I’ll be adding this to my to-bake list soon :)
Michelle, doesn’t it feel great to get back to baking with yeast with all that silky dough? It is on my list this coming fall. (Still trying to relish in fresh summer berries with my baking before they’re gone.) And, I am totally enamored with this Apricot and Cream Cheese filling for Babka…just like Danishes! Thanks so much for sharing to include some step-by-step visuals! Pinning! xo
This is totally fantastic! I haven’t ever made babka..
Another Babka? But we’ll be going in with a lesser Babka..
“Apricot takes a back seat to no babka. People love apricot. It should be on tables at restaurants along with salt and pepper. Anytime anyone says, “Oh this is so good, what’s in it?” The answer invariably comes back, “Apricot.” “Apricot.” Again and again. Lesser babka?? I think not.” – Jerry Seinfeld 2013
I was wondering if you could make with fresh apricots?
Hi Jane, I think fresh apricots would make the filling a bit too “wet”. I’d stick with dried.
I have only heard of chocolate babka so I am excited to see other flavors! And don’t you love the King Arthur Rolling mat? I can’t roll anything without it!
What nail polish do you have on? 1. LOVE the color 2. nail polish on my fingers never lasts being in the kitchen, how do you get yours to last?!
Hi Molly, The nail polish color is Bachelorette Bash by Essie. I love Essie, I find it lasts longer than most without chipping. That being said, I rarely keep my nails polished when I am doing things in the kitchen every day because they do chip easier. I had them painted while we were away in DC and it stayed for a few days after we got back before starting to chip :) I also love the Seche Vite top coat (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00150LT40/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00150LT40&linkCode=as2&tag=broeyebak-20), which dries quickly and seems to resist chipping.
Thank you! I LOVE essie! I will check out that top coat, I have yet to find one that I like!
Looks amazing! Yes, this is going on my to-bake list. This is also great for Christmas morning.
This sounds lovely! I still haven’t tried babka and this is definitely the recipe I need to get me to make it!
I’ve been slacking on the bread baking this summer too. But this is as good a reason as any to get back into it – wow!! I love the crumble topping, such a good addition to any recipe :)
This totally reminds me of the Seinfeld episode when Jerry goes, “Another babka?” Ha! And yes, this other babka is totally gorgeous and looks incredible!
Such a beautiful loaf! I don’t think there’s a lot thats more satisfying than making bread.
Most definitely on the ‘to bake’ list! I am going to make this into a gluten-free bread so that I can enjoy it to. No way am I letting Mum and Dad have all the fun. And the answer is no-one, no sane person can resist a crumb topping. It’s a basic human right. I’m sure it shows up in the UN Bill of human rights somewhere…
Gorgeous, love the contrasting apricot and cream cheese fillings!
I definitely want this on my to-bake list! This bread looks just beautiful – I love the color of that apricot in that golden bread. Delicious!
I’ve never made babka so I’m amazed by how easy you made it seem! Definitely want to try it now! Thanks so much!
This is SO IMPRESSIVE! First, Ive always wanted to make babka but never have. Just one of those things I’ve wanted to try but something else always comes along. Thanks for the step by step pics – so helpful. (and I am super impressed your pink nail polish is perfect! Nail polish lasts about 24 hrs for me before it’s a total mess with as much as I’m in the kitchen sink!)
And apricots. Cream cheese. What an amazing combo. I’d love this! Pinned!
I have never heard of babka, but this is gorgeous and I love you step by step photos! This looks like the perfect bread to serve around the holidays. Fun!
I adore babka! But I’ve never had a babka with fruit in it! It sounds right up my breakfast-paved alley.