Khachapuri, Cheese Bread of My DreamsPosted: February 14, 2012
And thus I begin my series of food to hibernate with. The weather hasn’t let up in weeks, so when I’m not teaching I tend to hole up in my apartment, watch movies (Chasing Amy and Hannah and her Sisters have been on the recent rotation), and cook. (I’m glad to be working again because it means that I can pass the extra baked goods on to my colleagues, saving me from inevitable sugar rushes.) In my time off I’ve also tried to take in as much of Moscow as possible, seeing museums (Winzavod and Garazh are next), planning parties, shopping and having adventures in even the simplest of exchanges. The cultural differences sometimes run so deep that I don’t even know when I’ve committed a faux-pas. For instance, the other day I broke the zipper on my boot and took it to the shop to get it repaired, while at the same time asking the shop-keeper if he could clean my boots up; it wasn’t until I told my colleague about the exchange that she mentioned it was a definite no-go to ask employees to clean your boots. It’s a bit of an insult here–shoe-shining is done in train stations, not in shops. Ruh-roh! Every day is a lesson here, linguistically or otherwise. In any case, there are two words we can all agree on: cheese bread.
Khachapuri is a Georgian pastry I came into contact with a year and a half ago on my last trip to Moscow. I forget which restaurant I first got it from, but I definitely came to love it, and took that love with me to Estonia. Georgian food was unlike anything I’d ever eaten, with unique spices, plentiful use of walnuts, and green herbs. I was hooked and wanted more–roasted eggplants, plates of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, mint tea, turkish coffee and this bread, which is lovely and different every place you go. In the end, khachapuri is basically a cheese-filled pie–the Pizza Hut stuffed crust that never was. It’s perfect winter food, ideal for cutting into big slices and sharing with friends. I sliced it up too quickly to photograph it whole, which gives me all the more reason to make it again.
Khachapuri (adapted from Nami-Nami). Serves four generously
- 250g sour cream
- 150g unsalted butter
- 1 beaten egg
- Around 300g flour
- A pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp sugar
- 200g Suluguni cheese (mozzarella will do in a pinch), grated
- 1 beaten egg (alternatively, beat just one egg and use it in the filling and the dough)
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- 2 cloves garlic, minced finally (this is optional; I didn’t have any and my khachapuri turned out just fine)
Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F)
Melt the butter on the stove and then slowly whisk in the sour cream. Whisk in the salt, baking soda and sugar, then slowly mix in the flour. I didn’t measure this but just added it slowly until the dough became uniform and only a little sticky. Knead the dough for a minute or so to bring it all together, then divide it in two and roll each piece out flat into two circles.
Mix together the grated cheese, egg, sour cream and garlic (if using).
Place one dough circle on a parchment-covered baking sheet, then spread with the cheese mixture, leaving a couple of centimetres on the sides bare. Cover with the other dough circle and press the edges together firmly. Brush the top with beaten egg yolk or leftover sour cream and poke the top with the prongs of a fork. Put it in the oven and bake for around 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Let it sit around 5 minutes, then slice.
Enjoy (and keep warm)!