Khachapuri (Georgian baked suluguni cheese bread)

If I were to choose the most popular bread variety here, I would pick khachapuri, as it’s absolutely something that both locals and foreigners enjoy. (I mean, who doesn’t like overloaded cheesy bread fresh from the oven?) To keep this dish authentic, use suluguni cheese, which is generally made from the milk of cow, buffalo, or goat – or a mix of all three.

Living in Moscow exposes me to authentic Russian cuisine, especially when spending time with good friends, local chefs, and other foodies. It makes life so much easier when you have someone who can help translate and give you a better understanding of how to prepare foods in the authentic way.
 
Being a foreigner who doesn’t know anyone who truly understands traditional food preparation techniques can lead you in the wrong direction, and you might end up replicating something that is not authentic. 
 
Besides getting to know more about Russian cuisine here in Moscow, this city also offers me a wide variety of foods from former Soviet states such as Armenia, Georgia, and Uzbekistan. These countries are known for their fresh produce and baked goods. For example, Uzbek has the fluffy round bread lepeshka, Armenia has flat bread called lavash, and Georgia offers plain, boat-shaped soft bread called shoti and warm, cheesy khachapuri, which is similar to pizza.
 
If I were to choose the most popular bread variety here, I would pick khachapuri, as it’s absolutely something that both locals and foreigners enjoy. (I mean, who doesn’t like overloaded cheesy bread fresh from the oven?) To keep this dish authentic, use suluguni cheese, which is generally made from the milk of cow, buffalo, or goat – or a mix of all three. The varieties of suluguni used for cooking are usually soft and moist, a bit like ricotta. There are also other kinds of suluguni that are smoky and dry and served as snacking cheese, eaten as-is.
 
The base of khachapuri is very similar to traditional pizza dough, so you could also use your favourite pizza dough recipe to replicate this dish. 
 
The lady who sold me the cheese told me that one khachapuri should contain two kinds of suluguni: a tart suluguni and a salty suluguni. Leftover cheese can be pre-grated and frozen for later use. If you are not able to access suluguni, you could substitute feta or dry mozzarella to get a similar texture. 
 
It’s important to keep the dough in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours before rolling it out for baking in order to let the gluten relax. You may also leave the dough in the fridge overnight.

Makes 2 medium sized Khachapuri 

Ingredients

Ingredients for dough:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1.5 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Egg wash for brushing

Ingredients for filling:

  • Approx. 150 g each of plain suluguni (tart and very mild flavour) and Imereti (имеретинский) suluguni
  • 1/3 cup full fat milk

*If you cannot get suluguni, you may substitute feta and mozzarella in the same proportions as above.

Recipe Preparation

Prepare dough:

Mix instant yeast and sugar together with warm water in small bowl. Set aside until mixture is foamy, about 5-8 min.
 
With standing mixer and dough hook attachment (or in medium mixing bowl if you are not using a standing mixer), combine flour, salt, and yeast mixture until a very soft dough is formed. Remove dough from bowl onto lightly floured surface and knead lightly into a ball. Oil large mixing bowl, put dough in, and toss to coat with oil. Cover with cling film and let dough proof until it has doubled its size, about 1-2 hours. Knock dough back down with one punch. Cover bowl with cling film and leave in fridge to rest for about 2-3 more hours.
 
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 240℃. 

For the remaining part of cooking:

Use cheese grater or sharp knife to shred cheese. Add milk and mix to combine. Set aside.
 
Remove dough from fridge onto lightly floured surface and split into two pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll dough into a rough round or oval shape, gently folding top and bottom edges inwards, approximately an inch wide. You should have an approximately 4 inch x 9 inch diameter inside the “boat” that you can fill with cheese. Join two ends of folded edges together and lightly twist twice.
 
Since dough is very soft, it is best to put boats onto the baking tray as soon as they are formed. Spoon cheese and milk mixture evenly into boats and brush edges with egg wash. Put tray in middle of oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until cheese and dough turn golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm. 

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