I had long heard of a melty cheese and bread boat named khachapuri made in Georgia (the country, not the state) but it seemed kind of like hearsay. Like that there were people out there who actually make turduckens, or that adorable cats with short legs named munchkins really exist.
Khachapuri- 2 to 3 types of melted cheese tucked into fluffy, yeasted bread and topped with a big pat of butter and an egg yolk that are stirred together to make a melty cheese pool that you dip the bread into?
YES. A traditional food of Georgia, khachapuri has been around for centuries longer than any of us have had to ponder its delicious existence and is just as cheese-packed as it sounds.
A couple months ago I learned that friend of mine, Anna Voloshyna, was hosting pop-up dinners serving her handmade khachapuri through Feastly in San Francisco. Purely because as a cheese expert it was my official duty to try it, I tried to sign up. Well… turned out I was not the only one craving a cheese boat-the dinner was sold out for a month. After making reservations to her feast two months in advance though, I finally tasted khachapuri.
Not to make pizza, mac n’ cheese or grilled cheese feel bad, but khachapuri is like a prized rose in an English garden, an Icelandic hot dog compared to a ball-park wiener, a New York chewy bagel versus what’s served in grocery store bins. It is a melted cheese epiphany.
And Anna khachapuri is something special.
I have since tasted another version at a local Georgian restaurant and I can tell you that Anna’s was tops. Incorporating the perfect blend of cheeses and the softest, most golden bread I’ve tried, Anna’s worked her magic on a classic Adjarian Khachapuri recipe that a Georgian friend shared with her to create this perfect version below. She even stuffed the crust with cheese, like according to my partner, they do with their cheese pide-nearly the same dish, different name- in Turkey. And she agreed to share her secrets.
I am thrilled to share with you today Anna’s recipe. Thank you, Anna! You even look adorable making it!
Btw, before you look at the recipe below and say, “What?! Why is she giving me a recipe for just 2 khachapuri?”, know that 1 cheese boat can feed from 2 to 4 people. It is f.i.l.l.i.n.g. And, I know that the recipe is in grams, but it really benefits from exact measurements. Grab yourself a scale- they are awesome.
Anna’s Adjarian Khachapuri Recipe
For 2 khachapuri
For the dough:
325 g all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough
250 ml whole milk, lukewarm
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
For the filling:
100 g Syrian cheese *, grated
100g Suluguni cheese *, grated
100g queso fresco, grated
100 ml heavy cream
1 whole egg, lightly beaten with a fork
2 egg yolks
100 g butter, unsalted and room temperature
1) In a big bowl, whisk together the milk, salt, sugar, and yeast. Let the mixture stand for 1-2 minutes.
2) Sift 120 g of the flour into the milk mixture and use a whisk to mix well until you’ll have a batter with a yogurt-like thickness. Cover the batter with a kitchen towel and let it stand for 20-25 minutes.
3) Sift the remaining flour into the mixture, then add the olive oil. Stir well to combine. After mixed, remove the dough from the bowl and start kneading. The dough will come together and form a ball. Continue kneading for 5 minutes. By the end of the 5 minutes the dough should be slightly sticky and very soft.
4) Divide the dough into 2 equal balls. Lightly brush the balls with some olive oil and place into individual zip lock bags, or bowls covered with plastic wrap, and let rest in a warm place (60-80 degrees Fahrenheit) for about 2 hrs.
5) Preheat the oven to 400 F.
6) In a small bowl mix together the three cheeses and heavy cream.
7) When the dough balls have risen and doubled in size, place them on a lightly floured surface, then roll into a 10 inch equal ovals, about 1/4 inch thick.
8) Place the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
9) Spread a quarter of the cheese mixture (about 5 ounces) over each piece of dough, leaving a 1 and 1⁄2-inch border all the way around. Fold both halves of the lengthy sides together and pinch the edges tightly to seal.
10) Flip the khachapuri over completely so the side you just pinched is now facing down. Cut lengthwise down the center of the dough with a sharp knife, making sure to leave about 1 1/2 inches uncut near each narrow end. Tucking the sides of the khachapuri under and away from the center, roll the edges of khachapuri to form a boat shape. There will be cheese under the rolled sides when you finish. Divide the remaining cheese mixture evenly between the middle of the khachapuri and lightly press down.
11) Cover the khachapuri with a kitchen towel, and set aside to res for 15 minutes until slightly puffed.
12) Just before baking, brush the edges of the khachapuri with the lightly beaten egg, then bake for 15-18 minutes until the crust becomes golden brown.
12) Make a well in the center of each khachapuri with the back of a spoon and drop 1 egg yolk into each well. Then place a slice of butter on top of the cheese and serve right away.
*You can find something like this Syrian cheese at a Middle Eastern grocer.
* Suluguni cheese is great, but if you can’t find it, use something like quesillo- a stringy, fresh Latin American cheese.