Georgian cheese bread (khachapuri)
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1/4-oz. package)
7 TBSP warm water (105-115 F.)
1 2/3 cups unbleached flour (all-purpose or bread), divided
3/4 tsp salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 lb. Havarti cheese, coarsely grated (or muenster cheese)
1/4 lb. salted mozzarella, coarsely grated
3-4 TBSP creamy feta cheese, crumbled
EQUIPMENT: floured pizza pan (at least 12 inches) or floured large baking sheet
Sprinkle yeast over warm water; stir in 1 TBSP flour. Let stand until creamy (about 5 minutes).
Stir together salt and remining flour in large bowl; then stir in egg and yeast mixture to form a dough.
Turn out dough onto well-floured surface. Turn to coat with flour, then knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes). Form into a ball; dust with flour. Let dough rest in a plastic-covered bowl, punching down with a wet fist every hour, for at least 2 hours, up to 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 500 F with rack in middle.
Turn out dough onto flour pizza pan, turning to coat, then flatten with fingers into a 7-inch disk,
Toss cheeses together and press into a compact 3-inch ball with hands. Place ball into middle of dough, gather dough up around cheese, squeezing extra dough into a topknot. Press down on topknot with damp fist to press cheese out from center. Continue to flatten dough and distribute cheese evenly, pressing outward from center, until dough is an 11-inch disk.
Cut a 6-inch "X" through top of dough to expose cheese. Bake until pale golden, 10-12 minutes. Brush surface of dough with butter and bake until golden and cooked through, about 4-5 minutes longer.
Cool slightly. Serve cut into wedges.
Pairs Well With
Our new son-in-law was born in the Republic of Georgia and grew up in Israel. One of his family's favorite dishes is khachapuri, so naturally, when he became part of our family, I had to learn how to make it. I regularly bake bread, so this was a natural to add to my baking routine. This recipe originally comes from "Gourmet" magazine and was adapted from Natia Gigani of Caucasus Travel Ltd., Republic of Georgia.