I love bread, I love apples…oh and I love cheese danish! So, this apple and sweet cheese bread is all encompassing for me. It is a nice enriched sweet dough with sauteed cinnamon apples and rich cheese danish filling. There are a lot of parts to it, but it is worth the extra effort and steps needed to make it. I made a couple loaves for an apple bake-off that we had at work and it went over really, really well.
A great thing about this recipe is it makes three loaves so you will have plenty for sharing, or you can freeze a loaf or two for a later occasion. If you want to freeze some I recommend making your loaves up to the shaping stage, but when you are done shaping them place them in a loaf pan that has been lined with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Cover them tightly with more plastic wrap and then pop them in the freezer until solid. Then you can remove them from the pan and place them in a freezer bag for further storage. If you don’t freeze them in the pan they have the tendency to rise slightly as they are freezing then they don’t quite fit back in the loaf pan for thawing, final rise, and baking. I learned this the hard way!
- 2 packages active dry or instant yeast
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup warm water
- 1 cup milk
- 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 egg yolks
- 5 cups (22.5 oz) all-purpose flour
- 1 egg beaten with 1 TB water for egg wash
- 16 oz cream cheese at room temperature
- 8 oz sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 TB flour
- 1 egg yolk
- 3 medium baking apples, peeled, cored, and diced into 1/2″ pieces
- 1 TB unsalted butter
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 TB sugar
- pinch of ginger and nutmeg (optional)
- 6 TB flour
- 8 TB sugar
- 4 TB cold butter
- Stir yeast with warm water. Set aside for 5 minutes to activate yeast. Grease three 9×5 inch loaf pans.
- Warm the milk till very warm and then place in a large mixing bowl or stand mixer. Add butter and stir to melt. Add sugar, salt, yeast mixture and egg yolks to the milk and butter.
- Add flour and knead until shiny and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, turning to coat both sides, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled. This may take as long as 2 hours.
- Prepare the crumb topping by mixing the flour and sugar and then cut the butter into the flour and sugar as if you were making pie dough. You want the butter to be the size of large peas.
- Prepare the filling by beating the cream cheese until light and fluffy then slowly add in the sugar and salt, followed by the egg yolk and finally the flour. In a small saute pan melt the butter over medium heat, then add your apples, sugar and spices. Saute until softened and slightly caramelized about 8-10 minutes, stirring often. Allow apples to cool. (You can add the apples to the cheese filling or you can spread the cheese filling on the rolled out dough then sprinkle with the apple pieces, I have found both methods work well)
- Turn your dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide the dough into three equal parts. Working with one part at a time and covering the rest with plastic wrap, roll each piece into a large rectangle to an 1/8 inch thickness.
- Spread the dough with 1/3 of the cheese filling then sprinkle with a 1/3 of the apple pieces (unless you combined them altogether). Fold in the sides of the dough and roll the dough up carefully so that the filling stays inside the dough. Place in prepared pan. Brush with beaten egg wash and sprinkle with 1/3 of the crumb topping. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until the loaves have risen just above the rim of the pan.
- Place your oven rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 degrees. Bake babkas for 40-50 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 190 degrees. A cake tester will come out of the center clean just like for a cake. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Using a knife, loosen babka from the sides of pan, and then allow to cool for 30 minutes in the loaf pan. Then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.