Polish Babka With Optional Cheese Filling

Polish Babka With Optional Cheese Filling

1/4 ounce dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
10 tablespoons soft butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks, room temperature
1 lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
5 cups flour, sifted
1 cup milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm
1 cup white raisins (soaked in hot apple juice for 15 minutes and drained)
1/3 cup fine unseasoned breadcrumbs
1 egg yolk, beaten
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Optional Cheese Filling
12 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 lemon zest

Add yeast to lukewarm (hot will kill the yeast)water and let stand until softened or dissolved, about 5 minutes.
Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, add salt to egg yolks and beat until thick; then add to sugar and butter mixture.
Add yeast and water, lemon rind, cinnamon and cardamom.
Add flour alternately with milk and beat well to make a smooth batter.
Add raisins and knead by hand until batter leaves the fingers.
Let rise in a warm draft free place until double (about 1-1/2 hours). Punch down and let rise again until double.
Generously butter a fluted tube pan. Sprinkle with fine bread crumbs and fill with dough. Brush with mixture of egg yolk beaten with 2 tablespoons water. Sprinkle with almonds and let rise again. Bake in preheated 350 degrees F oven for 30 minutes.
Optional:.
Cheese filling place 1/2 the dough in the greased pan place the filling mixture on the center of the dough, place the rest of the dough on the mixture. Try to pinch the dough together so filling is encased inside.