Blueberry & Lemon Cream Cheese Babka by Meike Peters

Lusciously filled and artistically twisted and braided, the yeast loaf looks like an edible piece of art. Dark chocolate is a very common filling, but you should try lemony cream cheese and blueberries!

If you start preparing the dough on a Saturday, you can enjoy your own piece of art for brunch on Sunday morning. This marvelous recipe is from  Meike Peters’ book 365: A Year of Everyday Cooking and Baking.

About the book:

Every home cook faces the same conundrum-what should I make today? Find a delicious answer to that question every day of the year with Meike Peters, author of the James Beard Award-winning book Eat in My Kitchen and the popular blog of the same name. These 365 new recipes are designed to complement the rhythm of your week, from quick, creative weeknight pasta dinners and colorful salads to fragrant, long-simmering weekend stews and cozy cakes. Try the Winter Caprese with Blood Orange, Beet, and Mozzarella; Riesling Mussels with Grapes and Tarragon; Raclette and Onion Spaetzle; and Tahini-Date Cake. Featuring the author’s signature style of cooking, rooted in German and Mediterranean flavors and making the best of each season’s lush produce, this new home-cooking bible will inspire you in the kitchen the whole year and beyond.

Serves 6

For the dough:
2 cups plus 2 tbsp (275 g) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp fast-acting yeast
¼ tsp fine sea salt
¼ cup (60 ml) whole milk, lukewarm
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
⅓ cup (75 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into cubes
Sunflower oil, to grease the bowl

For the filling:
2 large egg whites, plus 1 large egg yolk
⅛ tsp fine sea salt
½ pound (225 g) cream cheese, drained
2 tbsp granulated sugar
½ vanilla pod, split and scraped
2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
5 ounces (140 g) fresh blueberries

For the glaze:
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp whole milk

  1. For the dough, whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Whisk together the lukewarm milk, egg, and egg yolk then add the milk mixture and butter to the flour mixture and mix with the hook for 5 minutes or until smooth and well combined. Transfer to a work surface and continue kneading with your hands for 5 minutes or until you have a soft and silky ball of dough. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour, but mind that it stays soft. Brush a large bowl with a little sunflower oil, add the dough, cover with plastic wrap, and leave it in the fridge overnight, or for about 8 hours (don’t be alarmed, the dough will only rise a little). Take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for about 60 minutes.
  2. For the filling, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites and salt until stiff. In a large bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, egg yolk, sugar, vanilla seeds, and lemon zest until smooth. Gently fold in the egg whites.
  3. Butter a 9 x 4-inch (23 x 10 cm) loaf pan and line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper. Punch the dough down, take it out of the bowl, and knead for 30 seconds. Lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough with a rolling pin into a 16 x 11-inch (40 x 28 cm) rectangle. Spread the filling on top of the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch (2 cm) border, then sprinkle with the blueberries. Starting from one long side, carefully roll the dough up into a log. Use your fingers to squeeze the overlapping dough. Gently stretch and bend the log and close it to form a ring, tucking one end into the other and pushing the ends together to seal the filling inside. Gently push the 2 sides of the ring together to form an oval-like shape. Starting from the middle, carefully twist the roll about 3 times on one side and 3 times on the other side to form a thick double spiral that looks like a screw (don’t worry if it tears a bit). Quickly transfer the babka to the prepared pan. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for 60 to 90 minutes or until puffy.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  5. Whisk together the egg yolk and milk and brush on top of the babka. Bake for 35 minutes then cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and spongy. If you insert a skewer in the center of the babka, it should come out almost clean. Let the babka cool for at least 20 minutes before removing from the pan. Enjoy warm or cold.