December 5, 2016

Hop On The Cheesy Bread Trend With Khachapuri

If dough, cheese and egg sounds like a winning combination for brunch or a late-night snack, you owe it to yourself to give khachapuri a try. This comfort food import from the country of Georgia has been gaining popularity all across the U.S. for good reason. Artfully bringing together those simple ingredients to create a delicious whole is an exciting way for a student working toward an online culinary arts certificate to begin exploring a rich cooking heritage.

Once you’ve tasted khachapuri, you’ll likely want to make your own version of the cheesy bread. Fortunately, this straightforward dish provides plenty of opportunities for experimenting with different ingredients. You can put your mark on a growing trend by developing a personal take that offers a unique new spin on tradition.

Crafting khachapuri
There’s no one way to make khachapuri. Over the generations, bakers in Georgia and other eastern European nations have created many versions of the cheesy bread, each based around ingredients and techniques tied to the cultural background of different regions. The Adjaruli khachapuri, which has become the best known variety in the U.S., is named for Adjara, an area located in Georgia’s southwestern corner.

“Georgian bakers have created many versions of the cheesy bread.”

As Eater explained, a simple Adjaruli khachapuri generally includes one or both of two kinds of Georgian cheese: the mozzarella-like imeruli and the brined cow or buffalo milk’s cheese called sulguni. Since those types of cheese are hard to come by in the U.S., American bakers often opt for a substitution. Once you’ve mastered the dish, you may want to explore more authentic cheese options.

In the meantime, get started with a recipe like the one provided by Saveur. The directions call for heating water to 115 degrees Fahrenheit and mixing in active, dry yeast and sugar. Set the mixture aside for about 10 minutes, until a foam develops. Then, stir in olive oil, flour and salt.

Place the dough on a surface dusted with flour and knead until it becomes elastic. Then, move it into a greased bowl and loosely cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Allow about 45 minutes for the dough to rise until it reaches twice the size. Heat a pizza stone in an oven set to 500 degrees.

Throw together grated Muenster and crumbled feta in a bowl. If you prefer, the New York Times suggested a combination of grated mozzarella and crumbled goat cheese as a replacement for sulguni. Punch the dough down, and then let it rise back up.

Roll the dough into a circle on floured parchment paper and spread the cheese on top. Fold in toward the center from either side and seal the ends. Add more cheese to the middle before setting the dough and paper on the hot pizza stone.

Bake for about 15 minutes, watching for the dough to turn a golden brown. Add egg to the center and place back in the oven for another three or four minutes. Finish off the khachapuri by brushing on butter and serve while it’s still hot.

Roll out circles of dough to fill with cheese and egg.Roll out circles of dough to fill with cheese and egg.

Georgia’s national dish in the U.S.
To find inspiration for making khachapuri, try some of the offerings available at U.S. bakeries and restaurants. Bon Appetit noted that Richmond, Virginia’s Sub Rosa Bakery – which specializes in preparing organic, local ingredients in its wood-fired oven – has produced fine examples of the dish, as has the internationally influenced kitchen at Compass Rose in Washington, D.C.

For a much wider selection of authentic khachapuri and other Georgian bread dishes, however, diners should check out the menu prepared by executive chef Maia Acquaviva at Oda House in New York City. An Adjaruli khachapuri featuring homemade imeruli and sulguni cheese, plus an organic poached egg, is just the beginning. The other options include achma, a Georgian lasagna made with spinach and baked eggplant, and kubdari, which has its yeast dough packed with chopped beef, onions, herbs and spices. Vegans can opt for either the lobiani, with a filling of mashed pinto beans, or the tarkhuniani, containing tarragon, herbs and scallions.

Cheeseboat is another New York establishment serving up an array of khachapuri items. Guests can enjoy a khachapuri on a skewer or a Megruli khachapuri made with a yogurt dough and extra cheese. Then there are the namesake “cheeseboats” featuring spinach, mint, bacon, or smoked gouda and scallions. You can even order the Shkmeruli chicken, made with a creamy garlic sauce, surrounded by bread and cheese.

Anyone studying at culinary academy should dig into an order of khachapuri. You may find that this is one tasty trend that can bring fresh ideas for your own cooking.