Pimento Cheese Babka

Filled with swirls of cheese, peppers, and onions, you've never tasted savory bread as fluffy as this.


  • Dough:
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 6 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 1/4 cups flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup flavorless oil
  • 6 teaspoons any additional sweetener: sugar, brown sugar, honey, or molasses
  • Filling:
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 pounds sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 jar (2 ounces) diced pimentos
  • 1/4 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Egg wash: 1 large egg yolk beaten with one tablespoon water


  1. For the dough: In a medium bowl, combine the yeast, warm water and 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar and give it a little stir. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it becomes foamy on top.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl or in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix together the flour, salt and remaining 6 teaspoons sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil and additional sweetener.
  3. When the yeast is foamy, add it to the dry mixture, immediately followed by the egg mixture, and stir to combine. Knead, either by hand on a floured surface or with the dough hook, until you have a smooth and slightly sticky dough, 7 to 10 minutes, adding more flour as necessary.
  4. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, and let it sit at room temperature until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  5. Grease a 9x4-inch loaf pan. When the dough is finished rising, roll it out into a 10x14-inch rectangle. Spread on the mayo in an even layer, leaving a 1-inch border along one of the long edges. Sprinkle on the cheddar, pimentos, onion, paprika, cayenne, a good pinch of salt or two, and a few turns of black pepper.
  6. Starting at the long end opposite where you left the border, roll up the dough to make a long jelly roll, and pinch the edges to seal them shut. Use a serrated knife to cut the roll lengthwise down the center so you have 2 long skinny pieces of dough. Position them so that the opening is facing up (so all the filling doesn't fall out) and then twist the two pieces around one another. Fold the dough in half, place it in the loaf pan, cover it, and let it rise for 30 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  8. Brush the top of the dough with the egg wash. Bake until the top is golden brown and the loaf has an internal temperature of 190°F. Begin checking for doneness at 35 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and enjoy.