Poppy seed babka is the perfect pastry when you want something sweet but not incredibly overpowering. A fluffy yeast dough is filled with cream cheese and a rich poppy seed filling. This poppy seed babka recipe is foolproof and makes the most beautiful dessert wreath.

Poppy seed pastries are such a classic in slavic cuisine. Our poppy seed and cream cheese roll is another popular variation of this delicious recipe.

The baked poppy seed babka topped with powdered sugar.

Babka is a sweet yeast dough that can be baked with a variety of fillings. Chocolate, cinnamon, raisins, and even nuts are some of the other classic fillings, but this poppy seed cream cheese filling is definitely our favorite. The dough just melts in your mouth along with the creamy poppy seeds.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Perfect dessert for a crowd. This recipe makes a large wreath that is perfectly shared with a crowd. 
  • Easy to make. This recipe is so simple, chefs of all levels can feel confident in making this. 
  • No-knead recipe. This dough requires no kneading and just a short rise time, just like our pierogi dough recipe!
A sliced poppy seed babka wreath with a glass of milk.

Ingredients:

  • Sweet yeast dough – a simple, yet classic sweet yeast dough that’s perfect for so many pastries. 
  • Poppyseed filling – a store bought poppy seed filling is the perfect shortcut for a delicious filling. We pair ours with cream cheese for an extra level of creaminess. 

See the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and quantities.

How to Make Poppy Seed Babka

Make the dough – 

A sauce pan with the liquids for making babka dough.
  1. Heat the butter, salt, sugar, and milk in a small saucepan. Use a thermometer to make sure the mixture gets to 100°F, not any hotter. You can also use the microwave, heating in intervals. 
A sauce pan with the yeast sprinkled on top of the liquids.

2. Remove the mixture from the heat and whisk in the eggs and sprinkle the yeast on top.

The yeast mixed into the milk.

3. Stir to combine and cover for 5 minutes while the yeast activates. 

The flour on top of the liquid in the sauce pan.

4. Add the flour to the saucepan and mix until incorporated.

The dough in the sauce pan before rising.

5. Transfer the mixture to a greased large mixing bowl. Cover and allow the dough to rise until it is doubled in size, this should take about 1 ½ hours.

The risen dough in the sauce pan.

6. While the dough is rising, beat together room-temperature cream cheese and sugar in a small mixing bowl. Set aside until ready to use. 

Assemble the roll –

The dough rolled out into a rectangle.
  1. To a floured surface, add the dough and roll out into a rectangle about 13” x 20” in size. 
The rolled out dough topped with poppy seed filling and cream cheese.

2. Spread the poppy seed filling over the top in an even layer. Spread cream cheese over the top. 

The dough rolled into a log.

3. Roll up the dough by rolling the long side. Bring the ends together and pinch together to create a circle. Transfer the wreath to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Babka pattern – 

The cut up wreath ready to bake.
  1. Using kitchen shears or a sharp knife, cut slits on the outside about ½” apart. Cut only the outside, without cutting all the way through. 
  2. Shape the slits by alternating slits and folding them inward. You should have an alternating pattern of slits going in and going out. Pinch the inside slits down. 
  3. Brush with an egg wash and allow to rise for ½ an hour. 
  4. Bake in the oven for 18-22 minutes at 365°F or until the top is golden-brown. Dust with powdered sugar and serve!

Expert Tips for Getting the Perfect Babka: 

  • Use good yeast: Make sure the yeast you are using isn’t expired! You can use instant or active dry yeast. 
  • Filling: We use a store-bought filling, but you can also make your own!
  • Rise time: It’s important to let the dough rise for the perfect texture.

Recipe FAQs

Does the dough need to be kneaded?

No, this recipe is the perfect no-knead pastry. 

Where do I get the poppy seed filling?

You can buy the filling at most grocery stores! You can also get them on amazon.

Can you make your own filling?

There are many recipes online for making your own filling. It’s surprisingly easy but the canned stuff is easier and just as delicious. 

4 slices of poppy seed babka. The cross section shows the layers of poppy seed filling and cream cheese.

Store & Reheat 

  • Storage. Babka can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap. 
  • Freeze. Place the babka in a freezer-safe container and freeze. Store for up to 3 months. Reheat: Thaw the babka in the fridge or on the counter overnight. Once at room temperature, you can serve.

More Pastry Recipes

If you enjoyed this babka with poppyseeds recipe, be sure to try our other popular dessert recipes; here are some of our favorites:

If you tried this poppyseed babka Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please leave a star rating and let me know how it went in the comments below – we appreciate it!

Poppy Seed Babka

Author: Valentina
Print
4.89 from 9 votes
Poppyseed Babka Recipe is like a cake and a sweet bread in one. Soft sweet yeast dough with cream cheese and poppy seed filling twisted into a decadent wreath. 
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Rise Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 10 servings

Ingredients

Dough:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp table salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ½ tsp active dry yeast
  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, measured then sifted

Filling:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 12.5 oz canned poppy seed
  • powdered sugar, for dusting, optional

Instructions

  • Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper, lightly spray with baking spray. Set aside.
  • In a small saucepan, add butter, salt, sugar and milk, heat until very warm but not hot (no warmer than 100 degrees). 
  • Remove from heat and add whisked eggs and yeast, stir to combine. Cover saucepan and allow yeast to activate, about 5 minutes. 
  • Add flour to saucepan and mix to combine. Transfer dough to a large greased mixing bowl and cover (if the saucepan used was large, keep dough in there).
  • Allow the dough to rise 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. 
  • In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese and sugar.
  • Dust surface with flour and roll out the dough to a rectangle, about 13" x 20" in size. The dough will be slightly sticky, keep surface and top of dough floured. 
  • Spread poppy seed filling over the dough. Spread cream cheese mixture over poppy seed.
  • Roll up dough into a log, bring log together to create a wreath and bring together ends of log and secure seems.
  • Pull out on the wreath to stretch the dough.
  • Preheat the oven to 365°F.
  • With kitchen shears, cut slits in the dough about ½” – ¾” apart.
  • Shape cut slits into a wreath (see pictures and video) and brush with egg wash. As you are shaping the wreath pull dough away.
  • Rise for 1/2 hour.
  • Bake until top of babka is golden, about 18-22 minutes. 
  • Once cooled, dust with powdered sugar, optional. 

Notes

  • Use good yeast: Make sure the yeast you are using isn’t expired! You can use instant or active dry yeast. 
  • Filling: We use a store bought filling but you can also make your own!
  • Rise time: It’s important to let the dough rise for the perfect texture. 

Nutrition

301kcal Calories45g Carbs7g Protein9g Fat5g Saturated Fat60mg Cholesterol213mg Sodium128mg Potassium1g Fiber13g Sugar390IU Vitamin A62mg Calcium2.1mg Iron
Nutrition Facts
Poppy Seed Babka
Amount Per Serving
Calories 301 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Cholesterol 60mg20%
Sodium 213mg9%
Potassium 128mg4%
Carbohydrates 45g15%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 13g14%
Protein 7g14%
Vitamin A 390IU8%
Calcium 62mg6%
Iron 2.1mg12%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
(The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)