Sunday, March 18, 2012

Georgian Cheese Bread

This delicious bread recipe is from the country, not the US State, of Georgia.  :)  It was sooo delicious and pretty easy to make, too, especially if you are familiar with yeast breads.  The dough was silky and smooth and easy to work with.  It has a long, slow rise (2-3 hours), so you can get it started early in the afternoon and go on with your day. 

Since the traditional cheese used to make this (sulguni) is not really easy to come by in most places, the recipe calls for a mix of Havarti and Mozzarella cheeses. 
I doubled this recipe so we could have two delicious khachapuris.  I was glad I did- the whole family loved this.  I drastically reduced the cheese on this recipe and it was still plenty cheesey.  Each loaf was supposed to have 4 oz. of each kind of cheese, making 8 oz. total per loaf.  That would have been a ton!  I shredded the cheeses, mixed them together, and then measured out 5 oz. for each loaf.  It seemed to be the perfect amount.  (The leftover shredded cheese was used for our Pi Day Pizza a few days later). 

Georgian Cheese Bread (Khachapuri)
Adapted from Gourmet
Makes one loaf; easily doubled

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (a 1/4-ounce package)
7 tablespoons warm water (105-115°F)
1 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 1/2 ounces shredded Havarti cheese
2 1/2 ounces shredded salted mozzarella
1 teaspoon butter, melted

1.  Sprinkle yeast over warm water and stir in 1 tablespoon flour. Let stand until foamed and creamy, about 5 minutes. (If yeast does not activate, start over with new yeast.)  Stir together salt and remaining flour in a large bowl, then stir in egg and yeast mixture to form a dough.

2.  Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface and turn to coat with flour, then knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. (I mixed & kneaded with my Kitchenaid).  Form into a ball and dust with flour. Let dough rest in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap, punching down with a wet fist every hour, at least 2 hours and up to 3.

3.  Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle.  Turn out dough onto floured pizza pan, turning to coat, then flatten with your fingers into a 7-inch disk.

4.  Toss together cheeses and press into a compact 3-inch ball with your hands. Place ball in middle of dough, then gather dough up around ball of cheese, squeezing excess dough into a topknot. Press down on topknot with a 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.

5.  Cut a 6-inch X through top of dough to expose cheese. Bake until pale golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Brush surface of dough with butter and bake until golden and cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes more.  Serve cut into wedges.
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