A highlight at the Adjarian Wine House is this open-faced cheese bread, with its bright yellow egg yolk at the centre, the most iconic dish from the Autonomous Republic of Adjara. Adjarian (or Adjaran) khachapuri is a favourite throughout Georgia, and involves participation from the diners who stir the egg into the hot cheese to ﬁnish its cooking. The edges of this khachapuri are quite thick. The diner breaks off a chunk by hand and dips it into the eggy cheese. I like the version where the dough edges are enriched with grated cheese before baking.
by Carla Capalbo
Follow the Master Recipe for khachapuri using the yeast dough (see below). You will need one egg for the centre of each khachapuri made with 225 g / 8 oz flour, and 15 g / 1/2 oz / 1 tbsp soft butter for serving the bread.
After the yeast has risen, preheat the oven to 170 °C / 325 °F / Gas 3. Place a flat, heavy metal baking sheet on a rack in the centre of the oven.
Punch the dough down, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute to form an even ball. Roll it into a circle 30 cm / 12 in in diameter on a piece of baking paper. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the grated cheese along the top and bottom edges of the dough and roll them in towards the centre to form a boat shape with pointed ends. Pinch the dough to stop it unfolding.
Fill the centre of the ‘boat’ with the remaining cheese mixture (see below). Bake until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling, about 25 minutes. Carefully slide a raw egg into the centre of the bread and put it back into the oven for 2 to 3 minutes more. The yolk should still be runny.
Remove from the oven and put the butter on top of the egg. Serve immediately, stirring the egg into the hot cheese and butter.
The Master Dough Recipe (Yeast)
It’s almost as easy to make two breads as to make one, and they can be re-heated if any are left over, so here are the recipes for 1 or 2 breads.
Preparation: 120 minutes (including rising time)
Bake: 25–30 minutes
FOR 2 BREADS, 8 SERVINGS EACH
FOR 1 BREAD, 8 SERVINGS
HOW TO MAKE THE DOUGH
You can make these doughs the traditional way – by hand, mixing the warm water into the dry ingredients and kneading on a floured board for 5–7 minutes – or proceed as follows:
Put the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process briefly. Pour in the warm water and process again. The dough will come together and form a ball. Continue processing for 2 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough for another 2 minutes. It should be slightly sticky and not too firm. Spread the oil around the bottom and sides of a large bowl. Place the dough ball in the bowl, turning it once to pick up some of the oil. Cover the bowl with a clean tea cloth and place it in a warm place for 90–115 minutes. (If you’re not using the oven for anything else, turn it on low for 5 minutes before you knead the dough. Then put the bowl with the dough into the turned-off oven to rise.)
When the dough has risen, punch it down, turn it out onto a lightly floured board and knead it for just a minute to form a smooth ball. Divide the dough into equal halves if you are making two breads.
Preheat the oven to 170 °C / 325 °F / Gas 3. Place a flat, heavy iron baking sheet in the centre of the oven. Fill and form the bread while the oven heats up.
THE CHEESE FILLING
I like using a combination of four cheeses, in equal parts: For each Imeretian khachapuri I use 60g / 2oz each of grated cheddar, Emmental or other Swiss cheese, mozzarella (firm is best) and cottage cheese, but you can experiment and use your own favourites.
To fill 1 khachapui
Mix the four cheese in a small bowl. Season with pepper. If you like, also add half of the beaten egg, keeping the rest to paint the top of the bread.
Excerpted from Tasting Georgia by Carla Capalbo. Copyright 2017 Carla Capalbo. Published by Interlink Pub Group.