I’m the “Kitchen of the Month” this January at the Bread Baking Babes. Given that the Babes have been baking for so many years, it’s becoming more difficult to find a recipe that’s not been made before. Every time I come across a bread that excites me enough to want to try it out, I put it down on a “Breads To Bake” list. For this month’s bread, I looked there and narrowed down my choices to two recipes, one Asian with a sweet filling and another, a savoury Russian bread (Georgian to be precise)
After much shilly-shallying, I finally settled on the savoury one, Acharuli/ Adjaruli Khachapuri because I have a savoury tooth, if there is such a thing. Also, I thought with all the sweet baking everyone must be doing this past festive season, a savoury bread would perhaps be more welcome.
Acharuli/ Adjaruli Khachapuri is a boat shaped bread from Georgia, that has melted salty cheese and a soft cooked egg or sometimes two in the middle hollow part of the “boat”. The name Khachapuri has its origins in the words “Khacho ” meaning cottage cheese / cheese curd” and “Puri” meaning bread. I believe the Georgians often eat this very popular bread as a snack or for lunch.
Some people like to call the Acharuli Khachapuri a Georgian Pizza Pie, but I think that’s insulting both the Pizza and the Khachapuri. There are similarities but they’re really two distinctly individual dishes to my mind. Khachapuri is considered one of Georgia’s national dishes and each region of Georgia apparently makes its own variety of it. So much so that the Tbilisi State University supposedly developed a “Khachapuri Index” to measure inflation based on how much it costs to make one Imeretian Khachapuri!
Some of the more popular ones are the Abkhazian Khachapuri (from Abkhazi) is more like a buttery layered cheese lasagne but without sauce, and involves boiling dough sheets and then layering them with butter before baking it. The Imeruli/ Emeruli Khachapuri (from Imereti), is like a cheese filled flatbread (sometimes also filled with red bean filling) similar to the Indian “Paratha”, but is baked in the oven. The Megruli Khachapuri (from Samegrelo/ Mingrelia) is much like the Imeruli except that there’s more cheese put on the top of the flatbread.
The Khachapuri in this post in particular is known as Acharuli/ Adjaruli Khachapuri as it comes from Adjara (Achara), the mountain region of Georgia’s Black Sea coast which is known for its dairy products. In Georgia, this bread is often filled with a cheese called “Sulguni” which is a salty sheep’s milk cheese or Imeretian cheese, or a blend of both.
If you would like to make an egg free Khachapuri, you can leave the egg out and use just the cheese and something else. This is what I did when I used tomatoes instead because I like eggs better where I can’t see, smell or taste them as in cakes, cookies and the like. If I must eggs on their own then I will have them as omelette or boiled but I must have them cooked really well. I see and hear chefs and the people who supposedly know their food go on about soft boiled (or cooked) eggs and swoon over runny yolks but if there’s one thing that will put me off my meal it’s the sight of under cooked eggs!
While leaving the egg out may not be authentic in a Georgian Acharuli Khachapuri but it is very acceptable in a Greek Peinirli. A Greek Peinirli (from the Turkish work Peynir for cheese) is very much like the Khachapuri and has its origins in the recipes brought by immigrants who lived near the Black Sea over a century back. The filling in a Greek Peinirli includes cheese and different kinds of meats, eggs or tomatoes. You could also add a little chopped chive to the cheese mixture perhaps. I used sliced tomatoes, pickled jalapenos and herbs.
Traditionally, Acharuli/ Adjaruli Khachapuri does not require anything else on the side and is usually served on its own. As soon as the bread comes out of the oven, a large blob of butter is added to the top. The melted butter is mixed into the runny egg and melty cheese with a knife. One then breaks of the bready bits off the end of the “boat” first and the sides later, dipping them in the oozy, melty mixture in the middle and pop them into one’s mouth.
Here’s video that shows “The correct way to eat AdjaruliKhachapuri” in case anyone is interested. Me, I just ate it as it was! Of course, my filling wasn’t as runny as it had no egg and was just soft and stretchy because of the cheese.
A couple of things to note –
I didn’t use the egg for my dough, but if you do you might need a little more flour.
I couldn’t find Feta in the stores nearby so I used crumbled paneer which I liked better. I love Feta but I find what I get here usually a little too salty. Using the paneer meant that I could keep the salt levels low.
This dough can be made with a pre-ferment, or else can be mixed together and proofed in the fridge overnight for improved flavour. I just did everything at one go.
When shaping the “boat” make sure the sides that are rolled up are sealed well and when you pinch together the dough to form the “ends” of the boat. I used a little water to moisten the dough to seal it well. I learned the hard way when I thought I had sealed my first one well but it just opened out in the oven! This is why I have only photographs of the tomato version of the bread. I will be making this again after Christmas when my daughter is down from college and will update the post with photographs of the egg version. I also chose to leave out the butter after the baking.
Acharuli/ Adjaruli Khachapuri - A Boat Shaped Georgian Egg & Cheese Bread
For the Dough:
- 1 tsp yeast instant
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 tbsp olive oil .
- 1 egg (optional)*
- 1 1/2 cups flour , plus more for dusting
- 1 tsp salt
For the Filling:
- 1 1/2 cups Mozzarella grated / shredded
- 1 1/2 cups feta cheese crumbled
- 2 eggs (or any other topping of choice)
For topping after baking:
- 4 tbsps unsalted butter , cubed .
- I usually make my bread dough using the processor but this is easily done by hand. Put all the ingredients for the dough into the processor bowl and knead together until everything comes together into a smooth and somewhat loose elastic dough thatu2019s just short of sticky.
- Transfer the ball of dough to a well-oiled bowl, turning it so it is coated all over. Loosely cover and let it rise till double in volume, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Place a pizza stone or a baking sheet on a rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 250C (500F).
- Combine the cheeses in a bowl and set aside. Deflate the dough and divide it into two halves. Working with one piece at a time, roll it out to a rectangle about 10" long and 1/8" thick on a piece of lightly floured parchment. This makes it easier to transfer the dough to your baking sheet.
- Roll the long sides in a bit curving them inwards at the ends and seal well (with a little water) or the edges will open up during baking. Then bring the edges close and pinch together on both ends to form a "boat" like shape. Again, make sure the ends are sealed well. Transfer the "boats" to the baking sheet, but if you're going to bake them directly on the pizza stone just omit this step.
- Dock the centre “well” area and fill with half of the cheese mixture so it is a little higher than the edges of the dough “boat”. Repeat with the other half of dough and bake them for about 12 to 15 minutes until the Khachapuri are golden brown.
- Take the breads out of the oven and gently crack an egg on each bread without breaking the yolk (or add the sliced tomatoes, pickled jalapeños and herbs like I did) and return them to the oven. Bake for another 3 to 4 minutes till the egg is set.
- Take the Adjaruli Khachapuri out, and place a couple of cubes (2tbsp) butter on each. Serve them hot. It helps to wait for about 10 minutes before eating them so you don’t burn your mouth!
The Bread Baking Babes:
Though the Bread Baking Babes (BBB) is a closed group, you can still bake with us as a Bread Baking Buddy every month and here’s how it works.
I’m the Kitchen of the Month this January as I mentioned earlier. Bake this Acharuli/ Adjaruli Khachapuri according to the above recipe and post it on your blog before the 31st of this month. Please make sure you mention the Bread Baking Babes and link to this BBB post in your own blog post.
Then e-mail me at aparna[AT]mydiversekitchen[DOT]com with your name, a 500px wide image of your bread and the link to your BBB post. I will then send you a BBB badge for this bread that you can then add to your post on your blog, and will also include your bread in a Buddy round-up at the end of this month.
So do join us because I’m looking forward to have you join our Bread Baking Buddy round-up this month.
Our Buddy Breads this month :
As usual, you can find the breads we all baked this month right at the bottom of this post. We also had some “Buddies” who baked along with us this month.
Kelly who blogs at A Messy Kitchen baked these breads at the last minute to fit in with her Mexican style dinner, and even her girls who she says are “picky about melty cheese” liked them.
Victoria at My Bread and Brot made a healthier Roasted Butternut Squash and Gouda Acharuli with whole wheat flour and topped them off with pumpkin seeds.