Georgian Cheese Bread (Khachapuri /Adjaruli)

Khachapuri (Georgian Cheese Bread) with ham on the left and egg on the right. Photo by Cynthia Nelson

The combination of bread and cheese is one of life’s culinary pleasures. Whether they are cooked together or combined in a sandwich, one bite is never enough. The thing that makes this combo so appealing is that they can be topped, wrapped, folded or rolled with a variety of other ingredients to form an array of wraps, flatbreads and sandwiches.

Today’s recipe pays homage to Georgia’s national dish, Khachapuri, which translates to “cheese bread.” Given the name you should know that we are not talking about the southern state in the United States of America, but rather, the Republic of Georgia located at the crossroads between Eastern Europe and Western Asia. There are regional variations of this bread and cheese combo; the distinctions are based on availability of ingredients in each area, so the flour, state of the dough (wet, dry), shape of bread and type cheese (creamy, crumbled, soft, hard, salty, tart) used differ from one place to the other. The traditional cheeses used to make this Georgian cheese bread, melt, and become a filling that is creamy, and stretchy with a hint of tartness. On each occasion that I have made this cheese bread, I chose cheeses that I have at hand. However, if you are looking to create a particular flavour and texture to your filling, then you can buy specific cheese(s) to make this stuffed bread.

You want cheese that melts well and one that is creamy. If you are looking for something stretchy, go with the usual – mozzarella (preferably fresh if available). You might want to consider a flavoured or smoked cheese too. I’m sure you’ll make this more than once so try different combinations.

With this cheesy bread, you tear the rolled sides of the bread, dip and swirl the bread in the soft melted gooey middle and eat. If you like your eggs runny, crack it into the middle of the hot melted cheese and serve immediately so that it can be mixed into the filling. Yum!

Please check the photographs for directions when shaping the dough for the filling.

 

Yield: 2 loaves

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT

1 (13 x 18) sheet pan lined with parchment paper

 

INGREDIENTS

Dough:

 

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • ½ cup warm milk (110 – 115 degrees F)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, room temperature, lightly beaten

Filling:

  • 1½ cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1½ cups grated Havarti cheese (see notes)
  • 2 eggs, chopped ham, fresh herbs (see notes)
  • 2 tablespoons cubed butter (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS

 

Dough:

  1. Mix together the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Add the milk, oil and egg to the dry ingredients and bring together to make a dough. Knead for 4 minutes, Rub dough with oil and place in an oiled bowl. Cover and let proof for 1 hour to 90 minutes, or until more than doubled in size.

 

  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F with the rack in the lower part of the oven.

 

  1. Divide dough in half, form each piece into a ball and rest for 5 minutes.

 

  1. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, Roll each piece of dough into a 10-inch circle or oblong. Roll the opposite sides of the circle or the longer sides inwards (curved if rolled in a circle) leaving ⅓ of the centre clear. Pinch the ends together and seal with a little water, pressing down the edges to make a boat shape. (See photographs)

 

Filling:

  1. Combine the cheese and fill the opening.

 

  1. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove bread from oven, top with ham, cracked eggs, herbs, and return to oven and bake for 3 – 4 minutes or until egg sets to your preference. Remove from oven, dot with butter and serve hot.

 

NOTES

  1. This is a cheesy bread but if you like, reduce the amount to 1 cup each instead of 1½. Go with your cheese preference but get cheese that is tasty and melts well. If you are using Havarti, ensure that it is very cold to facilitate grating, if not, cut into small cubes.

 

  1. The bread is traditionally topped with eggs but you can use thinly sliced ham as I did, sausages, cooked ground meat, sautéed vegetable too. In this recipe, I made one bread with egg and the other with ham.

 

  1. Fresh herbs such as parsley, scallions, basil will work and are completely optional.

 

  1. Cut 2 pieces of parchment paper and roll each piece of dough on the paper then transfer to pan. Fold in the edges so that both rolls fit on the pan.
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