You won't find these scrumptious rolls anywhere in the deep south! The khachapuri, meaning "cheese bread", is a filled bread dish hailing from the country of Georgia. Georgia is a beautiful, mountainous country bordering the Black Sea, just north of Turkey and south of Russia. While Georgia is known in the region to have amazing food, the khachapuri is known the world over as Georgia's national dish. It can be found at food stands all over the country and can be made in a variety of ways. Larger khachapuri are made for feasts and celebrations, while smaller khachapuris, called "beggars purses", are sold as snacks. The choice of cheese is normally whatever is being locally produced, typically some kind of goat cheese. The leavened dough is generally said to have a pizza-crust like texture and flavor, and the shapes and fillings vary from place to place. The Adjarian Khachapuri is shaped like a boat, left open faced, and topped with butter and egg for extra artery clogging goodness. Ossetian Khachapuri has potatoes in the filling as well as cheese.
This recipe is from the book "The Bread Bible" by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter. I originally picked it up because I admired Shapter's beautiful photographs. What can I say, I am a sucker for good food photography. Over 600 full color photographs are included in the book, and over 100 recipes and a wealth of baking info. I snatched mine up at a used book store for a ridiculously low price, but now that I've read through it and used a few of the recipes I can heartily recommend picking it up - even at full price!
- 2 cups unbleached white bread flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 oz fresh yeast (or 1/4 oz dry yeast, 1 packet)
- 2/3 cup lukewarm milk
- 2 tbsp butter, softened
- 2 cups grated mature (sharp) cheddar
- 2 cups other cheese, grated or chunked depending on what you choose. Recipe recommends Munster or Taleggio, but I used two different types of local aged goat cheese to try to capture some of what I imagined is the original flavor and texture.
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 1 tbsp butter, softened
- salt and pepper
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tbsp water
- Lightly grease a Yorkshire pudding tin (or, if you don't have one, you can make them on a cookie sheet like I did). Preheat the oven to 350F/Gas 4.
- Proof the dry yeast in the lukewarm milk. Do not use hot milk as high temperatures will kill your yeast.
- Sift together the flour and salt into a large bowl. Create a well in the middle and add the yeast and milk mixture. Mix together into a dough, then knead the butter in.
- Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic (at least 10 minutes by hand).
- Place in an oiled bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until doubled, about an hour depending on the temperature of the room.
- While the dough is rising, combine all the ingredients for the filling in a large mixing bowl. Use the salt and pepper to suit your tastes, I think it is about perfect with a little less than a tspn of each.
- When the dough has risen, turn it out and knead for a few minutes, then divide into 4 equal pieces.
- Roll out each piece to be an 8 inch circle, place circle of dough in the pudding tin or on the cookie sheet. Fill with a quarter of the cheese filling. Gather the overhanging dough at the top and twist together. Have care not to roll the dough to thin or stretch it to much while forming the rolls to prevent holes from forming.
- Cover rolls with plastic wrap and let them rise for another 20-30 minutes.
- Just before placing the rolls in the oven, brush the tops with the egg yolk/water mix. Bake for 25-30 minutes until light golden. Serve warm.