(Above: Khachapuri is easy to make but takes time as the dough has to rise twice.)
One of the best ways to understand a people and their culture is through food, and the people at “The World” (a radio program produced by the BBC, PRI, and WGBH) understand that.
On their website I stumbled upon this recipe for a sweet bread stuffed with cheese. It was on the “Geo Quiz” page and it asked readers to guess the country on the Black Sea where khachapuri comes from.
Give up? It’s Georgia and it’s so popular there the government wants to trademark the recipe. After making it, I understand why. Its golden brown, sweet flaky crust, stuffed with a savory blend of hot cheese melts in your mouth. Served with salad or soup, it’s a very filling meal.
“The World” gave links to two recipes, one from MasterCook on the RecipeSource website and the other from Gourmet Magazine. Now usually I’d follow the Gourmet Magazine recipe as I’m a big fan of that now defunct publication, but I liked the sound of the MasterCook recipe better.
The traditional recipe calls for a cheese called sulguni but it’s either too difficult or impossible to get in this part of the world, so both recipes suggest alternatives. The goal is to try and get a stringy cheese that is flavorful and a bit salty. The MasterCook recipe suggests using a combination of Muenster, Jarlsberg, and White Cheddar. The Gourmet Magazine recipe suggests using a combination of Mozzarella and Havarti.
I decided to use all five cheeses and it was a hit at the RootsLiving table tonight.
Since the recipe I used called for 24 ounces of cheese, I used about 5 oz. of each cheese.
I might do some more experimenting with stuffings for this dough. It was great to work with. It rolled out easily, was very soft, but not delicate.
The flavor of the dough is sweet and might lend itself to an appetizer or after-dinner delicacy.
The RootsLiving kitchen could be busy for awhile with this one. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Here’s the recipe I followed (don’t be afraid to experiment with your own blend of cheeses):
Khachapuri (Cheese Bread)
- 1 package dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 3/4 cup room-temp milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour
- 5 ounces of muenster cheese
- 5 ounces of Jarlsberg or Swiss cheese
- 5 ounces of white cheddar cheese
- 5 ounces of mozzarella cheese
- 5 ounces of Havarti cheese
- 2 eggs (beat slightly)
- 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon of white pepper
- Step 1 Dissolve yeast and 1 tsp sugar in 1/4 cup water and let stand 5-10 minutes to proof until foamy.
- Step 2 Add milk, 2 tbs sugar, butter, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough.
- Step 3 Place in greased bowl and turn to coat all sides. Cover and let rise until double in bulk.
- Step 4 Shred cheeses, combine all filling ingredients and refrigerate.
- Step 5 Grease a 9-inch springform pan very well.
- Step 6 Punch down dough, shape into a ball, and roll into a 20-inch circle. Ease dough into pan (fold in half to lift and unfold in pan) letting excess hang over the edge.
- Step 7 Mound cheese filling onto dough in pan and bring dough up over the filling, folding to make 8-12 evenly spaced pleats.
- Step 8 Twist and pinch ends together to make a rough knob.
- Step 9 Cover with a buttered 12-inch square of waxed paper and let rise until double in bulk.
- Step 10 Brush loaf with glaze of 1 egg white + 1 tbs water (or use marg).
- Step 11 Bake 40-50 min. @ 375 or until deep golden brown.
- Step 12 Remove bread from pan, place directly on oven rack, and bake for an additional 5 minutes to brown bottom crust.
- Step 13 Cool on rack for 45 minutes before cutting into wedges. Serve with soup or salad for a full meal.