One of the great things about working in the field of international relations, is that a number of my coworkers are from different countries, and everyone has traveled to interesting places. As a result, one day at lunch, one of my coworkers, who is from Georgia (the country, not the state) started talking about the different types of Georgian cheese breads – in particular one that was basically a bread boat filled with cheese mixed with egg. I was instantly enamored of the concept, and needed to make it for myself. Sadly, she was not able to give me a recipe, so it was left to the internet to teach me how to make it.
The recipe I found was this: Adjarian khachapuri. Since this was an experiment in foods that are incredibly bad for you, I decided to make only 1 cheese bread, and adjusted the recipe accordingly.
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons water
1 package yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups flour
Heat the milk and water together. Once it’s warm, add the yeast and a teaspoon of sugar. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to give the yeast time to start bubbling. Then add the melted butter and an egg. Mix all the liquids with the flour. Knead until elastic, then let rise for and hour or two.
Meanwhile, make the cheese filling.
1-2 cups shredded cheese
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
fresh parsley, chopped
In theory, you are supposed to use some kind of Georgian cheese called sulguni. There was no way I was going to search around for it. So I used a combination of shredded mozzarella and goat gouda (which, for the record, is incredible stuff). Mix the shredded cheese with an egg. I also decided to add in a bunch of chopped garlic, cause why not? You can also add parsley, but I didn’t have any.
Once the dough the dough has finished rising, you are ready to roll it out. Rather than make a very large cheese boat, I divided the dough in half to make two medium-sized cheese boats. Regardless, take the amount of dough you want to use, and roll it into the shape of a football (American football, not soccer football). Place the cheese filling in the middle. Fold the edges of the dough over the filling so it looks like a boat. Bake in the oven at 400 for 15-20 min. you can add a raw egg to mix in at this point or not. I didn’t because only so much artery-clogging I can do in one recipe.
Eat it while it is still warm. The cheese was less goopy than its supposed to be, but I was totally ok with that. You can eat it by itself, or, do what I did, which is eat it with slices of tomato, and a glass of riesling. I know, riesling is usually considered the ankle tattoo of wines. But – it’s not always sickeningly sweet – you can get really good medium-dry rieslings, which I am quite fond of. Regardless, if you like cheese and bread, try khachapuri – it is truly amazing.
The second I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it. I enjoy making yeast breads, and have had great success making cheesy biscuits. But cheese bread? Absolutely necessary. But like happens, and a balance of healthy and unhealthy foods needs to be achieved, so it took a few weeks before I put plan into action. But I finally did, and the result was both glorious and addictive.
For once I used a straight-forward recipe Cheesy Puff Pull Apart Bread although I did make a few adjustments
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 envelope yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup water
6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (grated)
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, sugar, salt and yeast, and stir to mix. In a small saucepan heat milk and 2 tablespoons of butter over low heat until butter is just melted, then add water. Add milk mixture to the flour and stir to combine (either with dough hooks or a spoon). Add the egg and 3-4 ounces of the grated cheese. Knead (dough should be slightly sticky) and let rise for 1 hour. It is important to use sharp cheese – cheddar or something else strong. Cooking cheese mellows it out, so if you want the cheese flavor to come through, make sure you start with a fairly intense cheese.
The assembly is the only part that sounded tricky to me, but its easy. Roll out with dough into a large rectangle/square thing. The exact size and shape doesn’t really matter too much. Brush with butter, then sprinkle with cheese. Cut into strips, and layer them on top of each other.
Than cut the giant pile into six square-ish pieces and stick them sideways in a loaf pan. See – easy.
The result was amazingly delicious. It really was something I just kept eating, because a couple pieces was never enough. In theory you can pull apart this bread, and for the most part that was true. However, sometimes the pieces were a bit too large, and so they needed to be sliced in half. But that’s just me being nit-picky. I just ate the bread with butter, but it would probably taste good with jam, or apples too.