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Conquering Runny-Yolk Phobia with Khachapuri (BBB January 2016)

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BBB: Let's Get Baking summary: recipe for 2 kinds of Khachapuri: Adjaruli and Ossetian; runny egg-yolk phobia; potato substitution; converting food aversions; proof is in the tasting; we made a video!; a Bread Baking Babes project; (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

Bread Baking Babes (BBB) January 2016: Khachapuri

khachapuri Are you like me? Had you never heard of khachapuri? It’s pretty amazing that we haven’t when you consider that there is a khachapuri index!

Tbilisi State University (ISET) defines the Khachapuri index as the average cost of cooking one standard Imeretian Khachapuri. The evolution of this cost is indicative of inflation and economic trends in the country.
 
-CospoT, The pulse of the Georgian economy: the Khachapuri Index
 
Ajaran khachapuri is essentially a breadbowl encompassing a molten lake of oozy, salty cheese and a poached egg. It is typically shaped like a boat or an eye, the egg’s yolk a sort of sunny pupil. I first tried it on a sweltering August afternoon after a sticky four-hour bus ride […] January, however, is another story. There’s nothing like biting cold (or a nasty hangover) to make you crave stick-to-your-bones food like this. Make it for a weekend brunch or your next snow day. It’s so filling you won’t need much on the side: just coffee and some grapefruit or orange juice to cut the richness.
[…]
Serving note: If you like, sprinkle the khachapuri with black or red pepper, smoked paprika, or chopped greens (cilantro, parsley, basil, mint, dill). If you prefer a spicier version, mix some ajika into the cheese while it’s hot. A light salad of cucumber, tomatoes, and red or green onions on the side would complement the rich khachapuri nicely.
 
-Jenny Holm, Ajaran Khachapuri (Hot Breadbowl with Cheese and Egg), The Georgian Table

Here’s how our khachapuri saga unfolded:

BBB khachapuri diary:

15 December 2015 10:07 How cool to be making another Georgian bread! This will be fun!

7 Jan 2016, 23:54 I just looked more closely at the recipe and see that it calls for [eeeeek] a runny-yolked egg!

As soon as the bread comes out of the oven, a large blob of butter is added to the top. The melted butter is mixed into the runny egg and melty cheese with a knife. One then breaks of the bready bits off the end of the “boat” first and the sides later, dipping them in the oozy, melty mixture in the middle and pop them into one’s mouth.
 
-Aparna, message to BBBabes

…the “oozy, melty mixture”?! [shriek] Run for the hills! Run for the hills!

I went searching to see what other people did and found the following:

[H]ow to make Khachapuri (Georgian: ხაჭაპური), from Ajara, in which the dough is formed into an open gondola shape and is topped with a raw egg and butter before serving.
 
– Georgian Recipes Acharuli – Ajarian Khachapuri

Traditionally, the cheese is equal parts Sulguni and Imeretian cheeses. Sulguni is a mild semi-firm brined cheese made from the milk of cow, buffalo, goat or a mixture. Imeretian is a soft fresh cow’s milk cheese that resembles soft paneer or queso blanco.

Imeretian cheese from the Imereti region of Georgia is a very popular curd cheese made from cows milk. It has a soft and springy texture and a slightly sour, salty taste. It is a “quick cheese” maturing in just one or two days.
 
-Georgian Recipes, Imeretian Cheese
 
I came across a recipe for Sulguni by a cheese maker in New Zealand. […] It’s something of a mystery cheese and I wasn’t even sure what it was supposed to be like. A “basket” cheese like Panir? A brined cheese like Feta? But in actuality, it’s more like Mozzarella – a pasta filata or stretched curd cheese – which was a revelation when I read the recipe.
 
-Caitlin, Sulguni: A Gorgeous Georgian Cheese, Milk’s Leap

So. The cheese isn’t at all bothersome (even if I have to substitute with reasonable facsimiles). But a raw egg?! Noooooooo!!

But. It turns out that Aparna doesn’t like soft yolks either and said she made hers with harder cooked eggs. That sounds better…. In her message to us, she went on to assure us that we didn’t have to use egg if we didn’t want to.

Yay. I know I don’t want to….

So I did a little googling and discovered that there is a Georgian version, from the region of Ossetia, that uses potatoes instead of eggs. (There was another Ossetian Khachapuri recipe at georgianrecipes.net that calls for a beetgreen and cheese filling – that sounds good too!)

Sure, the Ossetian version may not be boat-shaped but I don’t care. It’s egg-free.

I’ve decided! I’m going to make boat-shaped bread with an Ossetian style filling.

I watched this charming video on Culinary backstreets:
Tbilisi Sketches: Bread, the Georgian Way I love how quiet it is! Gentle voices, people working away softly and yet it all feels so contented. Warm. Thoughtful.

As they turn and press the heavy mix of flour, water, salt and yeast, it is almost up to their elbows. “Everything is done by hand,” says Nona. “That’s the special ingredient.”
 
– Culinary Backstreets, Tbilisi Sketches

14 January 2016, 19:07 Eeek!! I just looked at the calendar… I HOPE I’ll be on time with this!

I really do have a horror of runny egg yolks (I almost lost it watching this YouTube video on how to eat khachapuri), and can’t stop thinking about the Ossetian version that uses potato. And no runny eggs. I’m beginning to really admire Ossetian Georgians…. :-) Next time we have beet greens in the house, remind me to try the other Ossetian filling!

23:19 I’ve decided that I’m going to mix the dough tonight, leave it on the counter overnight and shape and bake it in the morning. (Wish me luck….)

I’m interested to see that the recipe for khachapuri in georgianjournal.ge calls for milk and kefir in the dough. There is another recipe in SAVEUR No.155 April 2013 that calls for zero milk (it appears to call for zero liquid as well, mentioning water in the instructions only, insisting on that colossally dumb idea of refusing to put water into the ingredients list. What editing freak thought that was a good idea?! :stomp: )

Even though the BBB recipe calls for milk, I’m going to use water. I’ll use yoghurt in place of the optional egg in the dough and cut the yeast in half. I’m worried that if I use the whole amount of yeast, it will over-rise in the middle of the night.

15 January 2016, 00:11 Whoa! That is sloppy dough! Is it supposed to be that loose?? [checking the recipe...]

knead together until everything comes together into a smooth and somewhat loose elastic dough that’s just short of sticky
 
-BBB recipe

…”somewhat loose elastic dough” eh? Excuse me while I take a moment to laugh hysterically.

Okay, I’m fine now. I’ll just go and add a whole bunch more flour to the soupy batter in the bowl on the counter.

00:31 I just kneaded in 100g more all purpose flour. NOW there’s a somewhat loose almost sticky dough languishing in a plate-covered bowl in the oven with everything turned off. I hope I’m not making a mistake and that it will be nice risen in seven hours or so.

Again, wish me luck….

Night night!!

09:29 It looks great!! Not overrisen at all. Yay!

As I was looking at the recipe to learn about shaping, I noticed the following:

Transfer the ball of dough to a well-oiled bowl, turning it so it is coated all over. Loosely cover and let it rise till double in volume – about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
 
BBB khachapuri recipe

A well-oiled bowl? Excuse me while I try to stop myself from bursting into another fit of hysterical laughter …it will come as no surprise that I a.) didn’t oil the bowl and b.) didn’t notice the instruction until now.

10:10 The dough looks wonderful!! Ha. For once my crazed experiments with yeast reduction didn’t fail miserably. This will be perfect for lunch!

Of course, after checking one supermarket, I didn’t really even try to find Sulguni and Imeretian cheeses. So, I’ll just go to grate some Mozzarella and mash some goat’s cheese because we have neither paneer nor feta in the house and I’m too lazy to walk (too much snow on the road for safe bike riding) to the store to get some. If they even have Sulguni and Imeretian cheeses at the closest cheese store.

Who me? Make my own cheese? No no no! That’s Heather and Aparna’s department!

11:09 I may have made an error. I showed T the video with the egg. I also showed him Landon Nordeman’s full-page photo of khachapuri in SAVEUR magazine. (Even I think it looks good, and I loathe sunny side up eggs!)

He has decided that we should try the egg.

He has also decided that the potato filling sounds horrible.

We have struck a compromise. I’ll make one boat with potato filling and one boat for T to sully with an egg.

khachapuri 12:09 Shaping was relatively breezelike (no thanks to SAVEUR’s instructions and many thanks to Aparna for her nice simple instructions. The oven is now preheating.

12:23 T made me taste the egg version.

I can’t believe it!! It’s delicious.

In retaliation, I made T taste the potato version.

He can’t believe it!! It’s delicious.

Whoohooooo!! A Win Win situation!

khachapuri While T was mixing [gag] the egg into the hot cheese, I took a video. There’s no need to turn on your speakers, because we still don’t have a real video camera. But maybe that’s a good thing. It’s probably not a good idea to have to hear my delicate wretching noises in the background.

After mixing the egg in, we popped the bread back into the hot oven to get it nice and hot again. (Nothing like our January kitchen with its mean temperature of 15C to cool things off in no time!)

And lunch was brilliant.

Thank you, Aparna!

Here is the BBB January 2016 Khachapuri recipe. And here is what I did to it:

BBB Khachapuri with two kinds of filling
based on recipes in SAVEUR magazine and Georgian Journal

makes two “boats”

Dough

  • 188g (1.5 c) flour, plus 100g ¹
       » 258g unbleached all-purpose
       » 30 g 100% whole wheat
  • 6g kosher salt (1 tsp table salt) ²
  • 13g (1 Tbsp) olive oil
  • 60 g (2% butterfat) plain yoghurt (the BBB recipe calls for an optional egg)
  • 160g (160ml) water at 96F (the BBB recipe calls for milk) ³
  • 2g (0.5 tsp) active dry yeast
  • Zero sugar (the BBB recipe calls for 2g (1/2 tsp))

Cheese and Potato Filling
enough for one “boat”

  • 130g leftover mashed potatoes 4
  • 85g Mozzarella, grated
  • 85g fresh goat cheese

Cheese and Egg Filling
enough for one “boat”

  • 85g Mozzarella, grated
  • 85g fresh goat cheese
  • 1 egg

Topping

  • 57g (4 tbsp.) unsalted butter, cubed
  1. Mixing the dough: The night before you plan to bake the khachapuri, put whisk together flour and salt in a largish mixing bowl.
  2. Add olive oil and yoghurt and set aside for a moment
  3. In a smallish bowl, whisk water and yeast together to dissolve the yeast. Pour the yeasted water into the flour bowl. Stir everything together with a wooden spoon. Notice that there is no way that you will be able to turn this batter into “a smooth and somewhat loose elastic dough that’s just short of sticky” and make an executive decision to add a LOT more flour. Wish that you had added a mixture of whole wheat and all-purpose in this extra 100 grams and make a mental note to do that next time.
  4. Kneading: Use your hands to turn and fold the dough in the bowl as many times as you feel like. Feel happy that all that extra flour was not even close to be too much and be proud of the lovely “somewhat loose elastic dough that’s just short of sticky” that you have produced.
  5. Proofing: Put a plate over the bowl and leave it on the counter overnight (if it’s summer or your kitchen is particularly warm, put the dough into the fridge overnight). Don’t worry, even for a second, that you didn’t notice the instruction to put the dough into a “well-oiled bowl, turning it so it is coated all over”. Decide that at 15C, the counter is too cold so put the bowl in the oven. Put a note on the oven door so nobody will inadvertantly turn the oven on in the morning.
  6. Make the fillings: On the morning of the day that you plan to bake the khachapuri, be thrilled that the dough has risen beautifully overnight. Put half the cheeses into one bowl and half into another bowl. Add left-over mashed potatoes to one of the bowls. Use a fork to mix the contents of each bowl.
  7. Spoon the filling into each boat and make sure it is evenly distributed. Pull each boat-side over some of the filling on the side to create gunwales. Just to be sure, pinch together the bow and stern of each boat.
  8. Preheat the oven: Put a stone onto the middle rack and turn the oven to 400F.
  9. Shaping: Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board and divide it in two. Roll out each piece into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick. This makes it easier to transfer the dough to your baking sheet. Roll up the long sides a few times to create walls. Pinch the narrow ends together on each rectangle to make a boat shape. Make sure the ends are sealed well.
  10. Adding the Fillings: Spoon the filling into each boat and make sure it is evenly distributed. Pull each boat-side over some of the filling on the side to create gunwales. Just to be sure, pinch together the bow and stern of each boat.
  11. Baking: Use a peel to slip the boats onto the hot stone. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the outer edges are nicely golden and the cheese is bubbly.
  12. Adding the egg: Working quickly, use a fork to make a little well in the center of the non-potato khachapuri. Crack a room-temperature egg into the well. Use the fork to stir (and cook) the egg into the hot cheese for about a minute. Once the egg is completely encorporated, pop the khachapuris back into the oven to make sure they are nice and hot. Just before serveing, dot with butter.

Serve the khachapuris hot.

Notes:

1.) Flour The BBB recipe simply calls for “1 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting”. I’m guessing that whoever created the recipe must have very large cups because I had to add 100g more flour. Also, I cannot bring myself to make anything with just white flour so I substituted some of the unbleached all-purpose with whole wheat flour.

2.) Salt The BBB recipe calls for “1 tsp salt”. Because we use Kosher salt (much bigger grain), we always weigh salt for bread making…. According the the USDA website, 1 tsp fine table salt = 6 g. (For more information about measuring salt, please see Salt is salt, right?.)

3.) Water Yup, it’s the usual entreaty: please do not use water from the hot water tap. Instead, heat the water in a kettle or microwave. If you are allergic to using a thermometer, you can check the temperature by putting a few drops of water onto your wrist: if it feels warm, it’s too warm; if it feels cool, it’s too cool; if it feels like nothing, then it’s fine. Please note that before the yeast is added, the liquid temperature must be BELOW 120F (49C) because yeast begins to die when the temperature is higher than 120F.

4.) Leftover Mashed Potatoes Our left-over mashed potatoes were coarsely mashed with butter and a tiny bit of milk. The Georgian Journal recipe specifies boiled potatoes and butter.

What a revelation this was! For both of us.

I had grave doubts that the egg would work at all. Silly me. It was delicious! T, on his part, had grave doubts that the potato would work and said that he would try it but that I would have to eat the complete potato boat. Silly him. It was delicious too! In fact, both of us liked the potato version best.

Ha! We ended up dividing both boats exactly in half.

Thank you again, Aparna!

khachapuri

Bread Baking Babes

Aparna chose January 2016’s Bread Baking Babes’ project. She wrote:

[I] narrowed down my choices to two recipes, one Asian with a sweet filling and another, a savoury Russian bread (Georgian to be precise). After much shilly-shallying, I finally settled on the savoury one because I have a savoury tooth, if there is such a thing. […] Adjaruli Khachapuri is a boat shaped bread from Georgia, that holds melted salty cheese and a soft cooked egg or sometimes two in the middle. The name Khachapuri has its origins in the words “Khacho” meaning cottage cheese/ cheese curd, and “Puri” meaning bread. […] Traditionally Acharuli/ Adjaruli Khachapuri does not require anything else on the side and is usually served on its own. As soon as the bread comes out of the oven, a large blob of butter is added to the top. The melted butter is mixed into the runny egg and melty cheese with a knife. One then breaks of the bready bits off the end of the “boat” first and the sides later, dipping them in the oozy, melty mixture in the middle and pop them into one’s mouth.
 
-Aparna

We know you’ll want to make khachapuri too! To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make khachapuri in the next couple of weeks and post about them (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 28 January 2016. If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to email the Kitchen of the Month to say that your post is up. Aparna has also asked that you make sure you mention the Bread Baking Babes, link to her BBB post in your post, and send the URL to your BBB post along with a 500px wide image of your khachapuri.

Please note that it’s not enough to post about your bread in the Facebook group. Because of the ephemeral nature of Facebook’s posts, your FB post may be lost in the shuffle. Please make sure to directly contact the kitchen of the month if you want to be included in the BBBuddy roundup.

For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read the following:

Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ January bread.

As Katie has so fittingly said in the past:

As always, we have some very busy Babes at the moment….. But just so you know: We’re all still BABES! (You can tell by the panties….)

 


khachapuri

 

Oh, for the days of yesteryear, when SAVEUR editors were still encouraging their writers to produce real articles!

Having eaten Leah’s wonderful cooking on every visit to Georgia, I am looking forward to this meal. […] Today she is making katmis satsivi, chicken in walnut sauce. “Es chemi saquareli sachmelia,” Leah says. “It’s my favorite dish,” one that’s been in the family for generations. Her mother-in-law made it especially well and with a sense of joy that inspires Leah’s cooking to this day. “You always felt warm when you ate her food,” she says. It’s exactly how I feel about Leah’s cooking. […] While the satsivi finishes, Leah sautés some eggplant until it’s blistered, slathers it with a sauce she’s made from walnuts, fresh herbs, and spices, then scatters red onion on top—she would have preferred pomegranate seeds, she tells me, but couldn’t find any at the market this morning. […] Finally, Leah makes khachapuri, a cheese-filled flatbread that’s griddled until crispy on the outside and gooey within. When it’s ready to serve, Leah slides it from the pan and quarters it. The crust is browned in spots, and as the knife cuts through, cheese oozes out. She shuttles it to the table and we eat it hot, balancing the scalding buttery wedges on our fingertips and trying to catch every melting drip. Ketevan brings out a carafe of chacha, a grappa-like spirit that she infused with violets picked from nearby meadows. It’s crystal clear, with a sweet fragrance: spring in a bottle. “For the grace of the morning,” John says. We clink glasses.
 
We sit and eat, murmuring over the creamy walnut sauce of the katmis satstivi, helping ourselves to the silken slices of eggplant, nibbling grapes from the front yard and local pears that taste of honey.
 
“May bitterness be away from us and sweetness be in our lives,” John says, raising his glass. We drink.
 
-Karen Shimizu, Everlasting Feast: Food in the Republic of Georgia, SAVEUR Magazine No. 155 (April 2013)

 

We made a video showing how we caved and cracked an egg into the non-potato filled khachapuri!!


(If you are unable to view the video here, please go directly to YouTube: adding egg to khachapuri.)

 

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  • Karen

    Very nice Elizabeth! That video (not yours!) that shows how to eat it kind of made me gag too! I’m going to have to give in and try it with the egg, because I really do like them =) Love all of your research!

  • Ha! Both videos made me gag! It was very difficult to hold the camera steady… :lalala:

    Do make it with the egg – especially if you like eggs. The result is delicious! And if your kitchen isn’t like a refrigerator, you can probably go ahead and eat the khachapuri right after mixing in the egg. But, happily, the bread comes to no harm if it’s put back in the hot oven briefly.

  • Lien

    I like that video, that’s exactly what I told the family last night when we were eating the first one. No egg on top baked in the oven (making the pupil as you call it), that is horrible in my eyes, it turns rubbery or stays slimy ieeeewww!
    But an egg with cheese mixes would be a better idea…. then again it would be cheese omelet on bread right?! I must say I love it more with tomato on top, a little tang to cut through the cheese.

  • What a great idea to use potato in the filling! Wish I’d seen that sooner. Looking real good those boats of yours

  • I like the look of your cheese filling…and I will definitely be experimenting further to see if I can get one more authentic. I made mine with just a yolk (adore runny yolk, hate runny white). The video was fun!

  • katiezel

    I laughed when I saw the first bread come across my FB feed – thinking of you and a runny yolk. But then when I read that the egg was raw…. I knew it wasn’t going to happen.
    They both look delicious ;-)

  • MyKitchenInHalfCups

    Potato, gosh another one I must try! How would potato and egg be together, I think I might have to give that one a go next. I remember how good the potato pizza was.
    Haha I thought that index thing was pretty fun too.
    Beautiful breads. Great how easy this one is. Wonderful to over come another fear.

  • MyKitchenInHalfCups

    But the egg gets baked after it goes on right?

  • Yes, it cooks in the hot cheese. Using a fork we (when I say “we”, of course I mean “he”) stirred the egg around in the cheese for probably a minute. And then we put it back in the hot oven for about a minute to make sure the bread was really hot. Reheating for that short a time didn’t wreck the consistency of the cheese at all and it was truly delicious.

  • I don’t think that I would be inclined to add egg to the potato one. It’s just right the way it is. (But then… I’m not exactly the biggest fan of eggs, so who am I to say?) :lalala:

  • It’s more like a cheese custard rather than an omelet on the bread, Lien. After the egg is completely stirred into the hot cheese, the result is not even as eggy as a soufflé.

    But, tomato on top sounds good too. If there has to be a pupil for the eye, then I think a red tomato pupil sounds way more appetizing than a soft yolk just waiting to ooze.

  • I’m so happy that you didn’t run for the hills and decided to stick it through. And so happy you liked it.
    I’m adding potatoes to the next one I make for sure. :)