Cheese Filled Braided Bread Recipe
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This Braided Easter Bread has the softest crumb that pulls away like cotton candy. It is laced with farmer cheese (learn how to make farmer cheese with 2 ingredients!) and studded with apricots and orange zest which gives the entire loaf amazing flavor and a tantalizing aroma. Make this Easter Bread your new Easter tradition!
My husband found this recipe on Olya’s Youtube Channel and requested that I re-create! He prefers this over classic Easter Kulich because the cheese gives it exciting flavor and texture. This brings a cheese Paska and Kulich together into 1 impressive Easter bread!
Ingredients for Braided Easter Bread Recipe:
I love that there is a surprise inside this Easter Bread. The sweet-tart bites of apricot are such a treat and the ribbons of cheese make this almost danish-like. Also we used instant yeast here so you don’t have to wait all day for the dough to rise but the results are super soft and lovely. [See Print-Friendly Recipe Below]
*Cooks Tip: In baking, measuring ingredients correctly is crucial. See all of our tips and tricks for measuring correctly and you’ll be baking like a pro!
How to Make Braided Easter Bread with Cheese:
1. In a measuring cup, Combine 1/2 cup warm (not hot) milk,1 tsp sugar and 1 1/2 tsp yeast. Stir to dissolve sugar and let rest 10 minutes to proof.
2. In a small bowl, combine 1 egg with remaining 3 Tbsp sugar and 1/8 tsp salt and whisk together until blended. Whisk in melted warm butter (NOT HOT). Add proofed yeast mixture and whisk to combine.
3. In a large mixing bowl, add 2 1/4 cups flour and add wet ingredients. Stir with a spatula until combined then knead by hand 10 minutes. Dough will be soft and not sticky to the touch. Form dough into a ball then cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let dough rise at room temperature 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until doubled in size.
How to Make Cheese Filling:
1. Meanwhile, make cheese filling: In a medium bowl crumble the farmer cheese with a fork. Add 1/4 cup sugar and 1 egg yolk. Use a spatula to blend until combined and somewhat creamy. Add 1/2 cup diced apricots and 2 tsp orange zest.
How to Assemble Easter Bread Recipe:
5. Once dough has risen, punch it down and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough into a 12″x9″ rectangle, between 1/8″ and 1/4″ thick. Add cheese filling and spread evenly leaving 1/2″ of space at the edges.
6. Roll the dough into a log starting from the long end. Pinch the edges to seal. Cut the roll in half to split it into 2 strands, leaving them attached at one end. Overlap the 2 strands starting at the connected end and moving towards the ends, pinching to seal at the end. Carefully transfer braid cut-side up to an oiled 9.25×5.25 loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature 30-45 minutes or until visibly puffed up. Beat 1 egg with 1 tsp water with a fork and brush generously over risen loaf.
7. Bake in center of oven at 350˚F for 35 to 40 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes in the form then transfer to wire rack to cool. Dust warm bread with powdered sugar. Once cooled to room temperature, slice the Easter bread and serve.
How to Make Homemade Cheese (Tvorog/ Farmers Cheese):
All you need is 2 ingredients and a little patience! Here are 2 tutorials for making easy homemade farmers cheese:
- Buttermilk Farmers Cheese – the original one we make most often
- Greek Yogurt Farmers Cheese is protein rich and equally delicious
Braided Easter Bread Recipe
Braided Easter Bread is soft and has a surprise inside! This Easter bread is laced with farmers cheese, apricots, and orange zest which give the loaf amazing flavor and aroma.
For the Paska Easter Bread Dough:
- 1 1/2 tsp instant yeast, (4 grams)
- 3 Tbsp granulated sugar, (plus 1 tsp)
- 1/2 cup warm milk
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 egg
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, *measured correctly
For the Farmer Cheese (Tvorog) Filling:
- 8 1/2 oz farmers cheese, (1 3/4 cups packed)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
- 2 tsp orange zest , from 1 medium orange
For the Egg Wash:
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp water
In a measuring cup, Combine 1/2 cup warm milk (not hot),1 tsp sugar and 1 1/2 tsp yeast. Stir to combine and let sit 10 min to proof.
In a small bowl, add 1 egg, remaining 3 Tbsp sugar, 1/8 tsp salt and whisk together. Whisk in warm melted butter (NOT HOT). Lastly whisk in proofed yeast mixture.
In a large mixing bowl, add 2 1/4 cups flour then add wet ingredients. Combine dough with a spatula then knead by hand 10 min. Dough will be soft and not sticking to your hands. Form dough into a ball then cover bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, make cheese filling: In a medium bowl crumble farmers cheese with a fork. Add 1/4 cup sugar and 1 egg yolk. Use spatula to blend until combined and somewhat creamy. Add diced apricots and 2 tsp orange zest.
Once dough has risen, punch it down and transfer to lightly floured surface. Roll dough into 12"x9" rectangle, between 1/8" and 1/4" thick. Add cheese filling and spread evenly leaving a 1/2" border at the edges.
Roll dough into a log starting from the long end and pinch edges to seal. Cut the roll in half to split into 2 strands, keeping them attached at one end. Overlap the 2 strands starting at the connected end and weaving them together towards the ends. Pinch the ends to seal. Carefully transfer braid cut-side up to a greased loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise/puff up at room temperature 30-45 min. Beat 1 egg with 1 tsp water and generously brush egg wash over risen loaf.
Bake in center of oven at 350˚F for 35 to 40 min, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let rest 5 minutes in pan then transfer to wire rack. Dust warm bread with powdered sugar. Once cooled to room temperature, slice and serve.
If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pics of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Hashtag them #natashaskitchen
Looking for more traditional Easter Recipes?
- Paska Easter Bread – a timeless classic and conversation starter
- Hot Cross Buns – a beautiful and meaningful tradition
- Natural Easter Eggs – these patters are impressive and easy
- Easter Egg Chicks – so cute and the children love these
We go big on Easter because it is a major holiday as it marks the resurrection of Jesus and the victory and life that we have in Him. We spend the morning in church and then have a big celebratory potluck dinner at church. The day is wrapped up with an egg hunt for all the kiddos in our family at my parent’s house which they really look forward to. I would love to hear about your Easter traditions in a comment below!
Have a happy and blessed Easter, my friends!
Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review
Natasha, i am making this bread now. I doubled all the ingredients as I wanted to make one bread with cheese and one with chocolate. Do you think it was right to double the ingredients or maybe I needed to add different portions of each ingredient? I also used the mixer instead of kneading with my hands (lazy mama), the dough seems slightly hard, maybe it is supposed to be this way. I will see after an hour and a half if it will rise. Do you make double portions?
Hi Eugenia, especially when baking I recommend not making any adjustments to the process or ingredients, that may hinder the outcome. I hope it works out for you and the bread is delicious!
The bread came out spectacular, I made one with cheese and one with chocolate and I have to say, I am so amazed by how it came out. My husband couldn’t believe it either😁. Thank you so much for all the recipes. I will tag you on Facebook so you can see the pictures. Thank you again.
Hi Eugenia! So glad to hear that. Thank you for the excellent review. I would love to see a picture and will keep an eye out for it, thank you!
Would it be possible to use Canadian Flour in this recipe instead of All-Purpose Flour?
I have not tested this to advise.
For anyone wondering, I made these with by hand with no mixer, and it worked! The glaze just takes patience with a hand whisk. But it is possible.
I wish they were more flavorful, so maybe next time I would add a bit more ginger, or some honey, but they turned out good!!
Thank you so much for sharing that with us, Ellie!
Very close to an Estonian Kringle. I use these techniques to make a braided cinnamon swirl bread. Wonder if you have used the shaping technique with something other than brioche dough.
Thank you so much for sharing that with me.
Looks delicious 😋 If I don’t have farmers cheese, but have plenty of cottage cheese. Can I use it instead, combining with cream cheese?
Hi Natalya, I haven’t tested this but I think the next closest thing if you can’t find it and don’t have time to make it would be to use rinsed, drained and mashed cottage cheese. If you try that, let me know how you liked it
Beautiful, delicious, and so soft and fluffy. Absolutely love this Easter recipe. 100% recommend for all to try.Thanks for sharing. 🙂
I’m so happy you loved it!
Dear Natasha! It just came out of the oven and could not wait to taste it. Looks perfect & tastes perfect. The texture is light and fluffy. The best sweet bread recipe I tried so far…
I used active yeast and instead of the apricots, i added frozen raspberries. Heavenly 🙂
Thanks for sharing the recipe!
Thanks for giving this recipe a try, Niki. I hope you loved it!
Hi Natasha, my family loves all of your recipes. But can I substitute the instant yeast for active dry yeast? Thanks!
Hello Irene, I haven’t tried that yet to advise but I imagine that should work since I proof it in the beginning. Please share with us how it goes if you do an experiment.
Love all your cooking and baking and this time would love to try this Braided Easter bread. I couldn’t find farmer’s cheese can I use cream cheese or ricotta cheese for this recipe? Thank you.
Hi Annie, I haven’t tried this with ricotta or cream cheese so I’m not 100% sure how it would work in this recipe – it is much looser than farmer cheese. It might possibly work better with a rinsed, very well-drained and mashed cottage cheese. If you experiment with that, let me know how you like it!
I used ricotta cheese today and if you add a little bit of orange juice (not only the zest) then the ricotta will be moist and juicy even after finishing the baking. It worked well, do not hesitate to try.
Made this for Easter and it was just AMAZING! I love the cheese filing and the zest of the orange gives this bread such a refreshing taste! Will definitely be making again.
Love it! I am so glad that you enjoyed this recipe for Easter. I hope that you love every recipe that you try.
I just made this last night and have it this morning for breakfast. It’s not Easter anymore, but it’s so good that I’ll just use other excuses to make this again. Can you tell me what’s the original name of this recipe (is it Ukrainian or Russian one?)
Like some other viewers, I also made this using cream cheese (hard to be choosy during a complete lockdown period in NZ).
Thank you very much for the very descriptive recipe that is so easy to follow.
Thank you so much for sharing the tip of using cream cheese! That is very helpful! I’m not sure what the origin is – probably Russian?
Outstanding! I made it this morning (Easter Sunday) and took generous slices to 5 of our 6 kids, all isolating in different parts of our city. Stood apart outside in the sunshine and watched them nosh with appreciation. Thanks for making this a special treat in the midst of a hard time. God bless you and your family!
Hello Tom, thank you for sharing that with us. It’s very heartwarming and inspiring for me to read this kind of message. I hope you and your family will stay safe and healthy!
Best recipe ever, so simple but yeah complex, I wish I have used the right cheese, otherwise great.
I’m so happy you enjoyed that. Thank you for sharing that feedback with us!
Instead of mixing dry and wet ingredients with a spatula. Can I use my kitchen aid with dough hook and would I alter any directions?
Hi Marsha, you can use the KitchenAid with the dough hook attachment on speed 2.
Hi , Natasha , can I use active dry yeast instead instant yeast ? Can’t wait to try it !
Hi Inessa, I think it would work well since I proof it in the beginning
Hi, can I use cream cheese instead of farmers cheese?
Hello Natalya, someone else commented that they used cream cheese in this recipe and it worked out well. I hope that helps!
Thank you, Natalya! I didn’t write that I wanted to combine cottage cheese with cream cheese:) Sorry, my bad I missed the word “cottage cheese” Will it be the same great taste as farmers cheese?
No worries, I think it will still be good. Let me know how it goes if you try that!
Hi Natsha , I made this bread twice with two different brand Farmers cheese. First time I made with drier Farmers cheese and second time I made it with softer one! well the second time was very hard to put the braid together and transfer it to the form. what kind and brand of Farmers cheese do you use in this recipe and is it possible to use different kind of cheese instead?
Hi Kathy, I use a homemade farmers cheese which does not have any residual liquid in it but also isn’t overly dry. The one that is too moist could have added too much liquid to the recipe. You might try straining the excess liquid through a cheese cloth.
Hi Natasha! Me and my family love your recipes. For this, can we use fresh yeast instead of instant?
Hi Kayla, I honestly don’t work with fresh yeast so I haven’t tested this with fresh, but here is a helpful yeast article from King Arthur Flour company that might help with conversion.
Hi Natasha ! Thank you for the feedback. I used fresh bought from my local bakery since all of the stores are sold out of active and instant. Just came out of the oven and looks great! Thank you and happy Easter!
Hi, could I make this with just sugar or Nutella instead? Would I need to bake it for less time.
Hi Eugenia, I haven’t experimented with nutella so I can’t say for sure.
Absolutely amazing recipe, the illustration photographs are really very gorgeous!
Made this recipe many times from your site and love it every time! This review is for individuals that have a hard time finding farmers cheese. I always make mine with cream cheese: I really like the moisturizer it adds to the bread. I’ve tried it with farmers cheese; I’ve also made it with half farmers cheese and half cream cheese, still prefer only cream cheese 😊 Natasha, my family thanks you for all your great recipes! Blessings
Thank you for sharing that with us, Ana! I’m sure our readers will find this helpful!
The summer vacation is going to start in Indian schools and most of the students visit their grandmothers and relatives houses and I think delighting kids with such delicious food is a really very good idea.
I love your recipes and try them most of the time.
I think that is a great idea, Dinesh!! Thank you so much for sharing that with me
Great Recipe. Making it right now. Cant wait to see how it turned out. Only tip is to edit your total time in the instructions. It says 1 hour 5 minutes, but I think you mean 3 hours 5 minutes. Anyhow, I started this bread way too late in the evening thinking it would only take 1 hour 5 minutes. 😛 But it looks so good, I am remaining comitted and staying up to finish in time for Easter tomorrow. =D
Hi Vicky, I’m so glad you like the recipe! We do have the resting time listed as “2 hours” and I’m not sure why it only calculated the active time and prep time into the total time. I’ll see if I can fix that. I hope you love the Easter bread and happy Easter to you and your family!
Could I make the dough and let it rise overnight or is that too long? I would love to make this for breakfast but don’t want to wake up at 5am! 🙂
Hi, it would be too long to make it rise overnight. I would suggest following the instructions in our overnight cinnamon rolls where you refrigerate then bring it to room temperature and let it make that last rise before baking.
Really awesome blog. Your blog is really useful for me. Thanks for sharing this informative blog. Keep updating your blog.
Thanks for the great review!
Is there a cheese that I can buy if I don’t want to take the time to wait 56 hours for this cheese?
Hi Julia, Farmers cheese is sold in some grocery stores but varies by area.
By looking at the recipe it look likes so easy but i know how much effort it took. I made this several times and still it is my favorite.
I’m happy to hear that Kirti, thanks for sharing your great review!
Hi, Natasha! Question: Can I make this bread ahead of time, and freeze it, without compromising the bread or cheese?
Hi Xenia, I haven’t tried freezing this so I can’t speak to that. I’m not sure how the cheese portion would hold up.
Hi Natasha! Im excited to make this. Couple questions: So the regular red star active dry yeast wouldn’t work for this recipe? Also, may I use KitchenAid mixer or bread machine to knead the dough or it has to be by hand?
Hi Alena, I think it would work well since I proof it in the beginning. You can use the KitchenAid with dough hook attachment on speed 2. I haven’t tried in a bread machine so if you experiment, let me know how it goes! 🙂
I prepared the dough using the bread machine and it turned out wonderful. Only thing I didn’t like, is that the orange flavor was too strong for my taste. But I should have considered before, since I’m not a fan of orange flavor in baked goods. Also, wanted to say, great job translating metric to US units 👍
I’m happy to hear the recipe was a success! We’re slowly rolling out the conversion tool to each recipe but I’m glad you were able to use it already for this recipe. Thanks for sharing your great review with other readers Alena!
What I meant is that you were able to successfully convert grams (I saw the original video recipe) to US cups. 🙂 That takes some work!
Can I just knead this in my KitchenAid, or would u recommend doing it by hand?
Hi Sveta, you can absolutely knead in the KitchenAid with the dough hook attachment on speed 2.
Hi Natasha! Made mine yesterday. Might be a substitute for Kulich going forward. Mine felt a little crumbly when I was kneading and I felt like it didn’t puff up the second time around as much, but it still tastes good. I used home made tvorog. Thank you!
Hi Dina! With the rising, be sure to let the dough rise in an area that is not hotter than 100˚F or it will start cooking the yeast and deactivate it which will affect the rise. Also, if the dough was crumbly, it sounds like there may have been too much flour added. This post on measuring dry ingredients may help.
Baking it as I write this. Looks and smells divine. Can’t wait to try!!!
I hope it tastes as good as it looks and smells! Happy Easter Angela 🙂
Hi Natasha– I made this today. It’s on the cooling rack as we speak, but we’re not ready to dig into it just yet. What do you recommend for storing it?
Hi Jill, I would keep it wrapped at room temperature overnight. If storing longer than that, cover and refrigerate. You can warm it up slightly in the oven to freshen it up a bit before serving or just serve at room temperature.
Thank you! I can’t wait to try it! Mine doesn’t look as nice as yours but I think it’s going to taste good. 🙂
You’re welcome Jill! I’m sure you did a fantastic job! Happy Easter 🙂
I have made many of your recipes and all were wonderful but this is the first time I am feeling disappointed! I have measured all the ingredients exactly and followed every step. The dough turned out very flaky and would not come together, I think there was too much flour, I had to throw everything out. So sad!!! I went and watched the video as well and her method is much different.
Hi Nadia, check out our post on measuring flour. The way you described the dough definitely sounds like there was too much flour. The post should help.
Not a comment but a question. Can you buy Farmers Cheese instead of making it?
Yes, you can buy it in some grocery stores. If you have a European store/market nearby, they will usually stock it. Also, some health food stores and I have even purchased it at Fred Meyer.
Thanks, I’ll look around.
You’re welcome Merry, I hope you find some!
I found it at a regular grocery store. It was by the cream cheese. I had thought it might be by the sour cream/cottage cheese but it wasn’t.
Thanks Jill for responding. I’m on my way to the store! 🙂
I’m baking it right now! Greetings from Ukraine 🙂
I hope you love it Ira, please let me know what you think!
this Easter bread tastes like mom’s vatrushki! But making it is much easier. Thanks for the recipe, Natasha, I’ll bake more of it very soon 🙂
You’re welcome Ira! I’m happy to hear you’ll be making this again, thanks for sharing!
Hi Natasha! This looks amazing! I’m planning on making this bread today. I bought instant yeast, but it also says that it’s fast acting, is that the same thing or would it not work?
Hi Vita, yes that is the same thing. Mine says quick rise, others say fact acting. I hope you love the recipe! Happy Easter!! 🙂
Thank you for replying! I made it and it’s almost all gone now;) although it did turn out a little too dense, could it be that I kneaded it too much? Or too much flour? It turned out delicious anyway and hubby approved! Thank you for sharing such great recipes with us! Happy Easter to you as well!
Hi Vita, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Regarding the consistency – you might test to see if your yeast is fresh – also if the yeast gets too hot while the bread is rising, it can deactivate the yeast and it won’t rise properly. Did you bread rise well through all the stages? You might check out this post on measuring flour – I have tested and learned that if you scoop the measuring cup directly into the flour bin, you can get 25%+ excess flour in the cup.
Can I bake it in a glass loaf bank for the same time?
Hi Sarah, I haven’t tested this recipe in a glass pan but most sources online say to reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees F if using a glass pan.
Can’t find farmer’s cheese anywhere- any substitute?
Hi Lisa, I haven’t tested this but I think the next closest thing if you can’t find it and don’t have time to make it would be to use rinsed, drained and mashed cottage cheese. If you try that, let me know how you liked it 🙂
I tried it with cottage cheese, rinsed and well drained, but the filling was still too wet.
OH good to know, thanks for sharing your helpful tip with other readers Debbie!
In my experience, quark (a British/European creamy, tangy cheese) is a great substitute for farmer’s cheese. If quark is not available, you can use ricotta mixed with lemon juice or citric acid to up the tartness. With both quark and ricotta, you’ll want to drain them if they are on the runny side. Simply place the cheese in a cheesecloth-lined strainer over a bowl, and let it drip for a few hours. If nothing is happening, place a weight on top of the cheesecloth.
Great tips Irina, thanks for sharing!
Hi, can I use cottage cheese instead of farmer cheese?
Hi Viktoriya, I haven’t tested that in this recipe but it may work if it is rinsed, well drained and mashed before using. If you experiment, let me know how it goes 🙂
Thank you, I’ll try it with cottage cheese, because don’t have time to make farmer cheese, thank you for the quick response 😃
You’re welcome Viktoriya!
I made this today and came out great! Thanks for the recipe!
You’re welcome! I’m so happy you enjoyed it Cheryl!
I baked 2 loafs. Sooo delicious! My kids asked for second slice. This is a winner-keeper😉 Thank you Natasha! Blessings to you and you family!
My pleasure Tatyana! I’m glad to hear the whole family enjoys the recipe. Thanks for sharing your excellent review! 🙂
If we do not have the time to make farmers cheese since I would like to prepare the bread for Saturday. Which farmers cheese can we get from the store?
Hi Matilde, I have seen it in Fred Meyer but it would be best if you had a local European grocery store – they almost always carry farmers cheese. Lifeway makes farmers cheese and they do have a zipcode store search. Some other brands of farmer cheese do the same thing if you wanted to search that way.
Hi Natasha, Do you think Gluten Free flour would work? I would love to make this Easter Bread this coming weekend it looks so delicious!
Hi Trina, I honestly haven’t tried this with GF flour. When I experiment, I’m generally using a cup for cup type of flour (I like Namaste brand), but I just haven’t tested it in this recipe. If you experiment, let me know how it goes and Happy Easter!
We celebrate Resurrection Sunday as well with a brunch after service! Jesus lives! May you have a blessed day.
Thanks for your many yummy recipes!
My pleasure Stacey! I hope you and your family have a wonderful Easter! God Bless 🙂
This looks delicious! Wanting to try it for our church potluck tonight. Do u think raisins will work instead of apricots?
Hi Susan, yes that would work well, but you will need to plump them up. Place 1/2 cup raisins (white or brown) into a bowl and cover with hot water. Let sit 10 minutes then drain and pat dry with paper towels.
My husband refuses to eat farmers cheese, and any other good substitutes. Would cream cheese work? :-\
Hi Ksusha, I think it could work but you will have to experiment since I haven’t tested it. I would try to make it like a cheesecake mixture but with less eggs since it can get too loose and difficult to roll up the dough.
This recipe looks so good but I’m in a hurry can I use ricotta cheese instead?
Hi Lilia, I haven’t tried this with ricotta cheese so I’m not 100% sure how it would work in this recipe – it is much more loose than farmer cheese. It might possibly work better with a rinsed, very well drained and mashed cottage cheese. If you experiment with that, let me know how you like it! 🙂
Just wondering if this recipe would work in a round pan similar to the one used for the Paska Easter Bread Recipe (Kulich). Thank you!
Hi Karen, I think that would work but the smaller ones I used for the kulich might be just a little too small and would require a longer baking time. Something like an 8 or 9″ cake pan would probably work well, or even laying it out onto a baking sheet would probably work – it would just take on a slightly different shape with the bake. .
Can’t wait to try it. A duet of apricots and farmer’s cheese sounds delicious!
Thank you Oksana! It really is such a treat! Plus the orange zest gives it amazing flavor as well. I hope you LOVE it! 🙂