A while back I mentioned a batch of khachapuri that I had made, but I didn’t go into detail about them because I was seriously distracted by the gougères I was making at the same time. Last week I made them again, though, so I thought I’d do some fuller coverage.
Khachapuri are cheese-and-egg filled flatbreads from the Republic of Georgia. The bread itself is a yogurt and white flour dough which is very simple to make and very tasty as well. The variety I always make are the “emeruli khachapuri” out of Flatbreads and Flavors; the book has some variations stuffed with red beans or potatoes, but I haven’t really branched out yet – these are too good.
from Flatbreads and Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
The full recipe makes 8 flatbreads. The breads are very filling, so I usually just make a half batch, which works fine. Leftovers are tasty for breakfast, too.
for the dough:
- 3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups plain yogurt
for the filling:
- 4 oz cheddar or mozzarella cheese, finely grated
- 2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
- 2 Tbsp plain yogurt
- 1 egg
Preheat the oven to 450°. Have two baking sheets lined with parchment and standing by (I always forget to use parchment, and the filling leaks out and sticks impressively).
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt, then add the yogurt and stir it up well. Keep adding flour until the dough firms up enough to knead. Turn it out onto the counter and knead for a few minutes. The dough should be soft and springy.
Mix up your filling in a small bowl. I find that you can get away with a lot of different proportions and types of cheese, so don’t worry about exact measurements. You could add fresh herbs as well, especially parsley or cilantro…
Cut your dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll out a piece into a thin circle, leaving a little bit of thicker dough in the middle (helps keep the bread from splitting during baking). Drop a dollop of filling on (a tablespoon’s worth or a bit more). Pleat up the edges of the dough over the filling, twist them together and press them down. You are trying to seal the dough and spread the filling around inside so there is cheese and egg throughout the bread. Try to get it as thin as possible, too – the book says to aim for 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, but I have trouble getting it that thin without gooshing egg all over the place.
Flip the bread and set it on a baking sheet so that the pleated part is underneath. You should have a smooth, flat, round bread.
Shape and fill three more breads and get the pan in the oven. You can shape the rest of the breads while they bake. They only take 5-10 minutes to cook; keep an eye on the breads in the oven and take them out when they are lightly golden with a few brown spots. Don’t worry if they leak a bit, it makes them a little messier to eat but still delicious.
Toss the breads in a basket with a towel to keep them warm while you finish baking. Serve with sharply flavored food – the yogurt dough is very comfortingly bland against spicy or acidic flavors. We had these with a batch of lamb meatballs with sour cherry sauce, which was a perfect match. And be careful when eating – the filling is blazingly hot and will take the skin right off the roof of your mouth.