A delicious bread from the country of Georgia, the Adjaruli Khachapuri is shaped like a boat and has melty cheese and oozing egg at its center. Lovely to look at, but even better to devour!
As someone who loves making breads in general, I always thought it would be an impossible task for me to pick favorites. That was what I thought anyway, before I made this recipe. Despite the fact that I love– like, really love— so many of the bread recipes I’ve tried so far, I have to say the khachapuri is one among just a handful of my ALL-TIME favorites. I will be making this bread for the rest of my life.
There’s simply something so satisfying about this bread, both in terms of visuals and in terms of the eating experience. In short, it tastes as amazing as it looks. While most yeast breads are pretty humble in appearance, I think the khachapuri actually looks impressive. You immediately have this idea of how good that cheesy eggy center must taste, all contained inside this golden boat bread.
It also evokes an oddly homey vibe because of its rustic, rough-around-the-edges look. I don’t know about you, but the moment I saw a photo of this cheesy bread boat, I immediately knew I had to make it. I immediately knew we had to be acquainted. At the most basic level, if you love eggs, and you love cheese, and you love bread, and you love all of that together in one package, then the khachapuri will be your new best friend.
What is a khachapuri anyway? The word ‘khachapuri’ is actually a broad term for cheese-filled breads from the country of Georgia. I don’t really know much about Georgia except for the fact that it’s located between Russia and Turkey, and that they clearly make some really awesome breads there. Apparently, this bread isn’t exclusive to Georgia because I’ve read that it’s quite popular in Russia and Armenia too, but I will assume it originated from Georgia since it’s widely referred to as Georgian Cheese Bread.
Frankly, it’s very difficult not to love something that resembles pizza in more ways than one. I imagine if someone influential introduced this bread in any part of the world that does not know about it, it would fly. I won’t say “sell like pancakes”, because this is much harder (and more expensive) to make compared to pancakes.
There are several types of khachapuri that come in different shapes and sizes, and they also hail from different parts of Georgia. Today we’re talking about the boat-shaped one, called adjaruli khachapuri. Typically this specific type of khachapuri makes use of farmer’s cheese and mozzarella, but since I didn’t have any, I used the combo of mozzarella and feta only. I have some cheese suggestions in the Recipe Notes section below.
The spinach in the filling is also fairly optional but it’s REALLY good because it gives you something else to chew on. Not to mention it adds a little contrast to the whiteness of the cheese filling– as does the yellow orb in the center called an egg. I think runny eggs are the way to go here, but if you hate that then just bake the eggs a little longer to set them fully.
I’m not going to claim authenticity with this recipe I’m sharing today because I have never been to Georgia and thus don’t know what “authentic” looks and tastes like. But I will tell you this recipe is DELICIOUS. DIVINE. THE STUFF OF DREAMS. And you must try it. Seriously.
And just to show you the crumb of the bread base (if you’re as obsessed with crumbs as I am), can you see how fluffy that is??? Actually, it’s kind of a hybrid of a fluffy but also chewy bread that is incredibly “full-bodied” and filling. It’s so hard to explain! It reminds me a little of those puffy but chewy pizzas that have some bite and heft to them. The bread has a really nice flavor on its own, but it’s obviously a hundred times better with all that oozing cheese, and spinach, and the egg too of course.
You know what, I can babble all day but you’ll still have to make this recipe yourself to see what I mean! So let’s get to it, shall we?
- HOW CAN I TELL IF THE DOUGH IS PROPERLY MADE? This dough is supposed to be sticky and supple/damp to the touch, but also elastic, when you’re done kneading it. Resist the urge to add more flour to the dough until it’s no longer sticky because the bread will come out heavy rather than fluffy if too much flour is incorporated into the dough. The dough is ready when it’s elastic, and to check, slowly stretch out a small portion of dough. It should not easily break.
- HOW LONG SHOULD I LEAVE THE DOUGH TO PROOF? Although the recipe says 1 hour, depending on how hot your climate is, the dough might rise a little faster. Start checking the dough at the 45th minute. You want to give it ample time to rise in a lightly greased bowl, but do not leave it to rise for longer than necessary. Aside from being doubled in size, a better way to test if the dough has risen enough is to poke it. If the area you poked bounces back right away, give it a few more minutes. If the dough springs back slowly and your finger leaves a small indentation on the surface, then it’s ready for the next step. However if you poke it and your finger leaves a hole that does not bounce back at all (or if the dough collapses), then sorry to say it’s been left too long.
- CAN THE DOUGH BE MADE IN ADVANCE? The dough can be made the night before. After kneading the dough, place into a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge overnight. It will rise slowly in the cold. The next day, deflate the dough and cut into 4 equal pieces. Shape into boats and leave to rise for about 30 minutes in a warm place. Fill with the cheese mixture, then bake as instructed above.
- WHAT CHEESES CAN I USE FOR THIS? Khachapuri traditionally contains farmer’s cheese, but if you cannot find it, you can substitute with goat cheese, ricotta cheese, or cottage cheese instead. Use it with equal parts mozzarella and feta cheese until you get a total of 400 to 450 grams of cheese. In this instance, I used just a combination of mozzarella and feta. Since the cheeses are on the mild side, I made made sure to season the filling generously.
- CAN I SKIP THE SPINACH FOR THE FILLING? At its most basic form, the adjaruli khachapuri has only cheese and egg as its filling, but I love adding spinach because it makes everything less plain. You can omit it if you really don’t want to add any vegetable to this recipe. If using, make sure to season the spinach for extra flavor.
- HOW DO I FORM THE BOATS? Divide the dough into four pieces and use a rolling pin to roll out each portion into a 10-inch disc. Add 1/4 of the prepared spinach-cheese mixture in the center. Now roll the two opposite ends of the dough toward the middle to form a boat shape. (You can also just fold them over part of the filling.) Pinch or rotate the ends together to seal. I form the boats on my work surface first then use my bench scraper to carry the bread boats onto my baking sheet.
- HOW DO I ADD THE EGG INTO THE CENTER? The eggs are added to the khachapuri near the end of baking time. Once the breads are very nearly done, take them out of the oven but keep the oven on. Use a spoon to create a deep wide well in the center of the melted cheese filling. Crack an egg in a bowl, then gently drop it into the well. I used large eggs when I made this and I could not add in all the egg whites because it spilled over. I think a small or medium egg will work best here, but since the large eggs have larger and yummier yolks, you can also just control the amount of egg whites to make sure everything fits into the cheese well. This is why I suggest cracking the eggs in a separate bowl, so you can control the pour.
- HOW DO I GET RUNNY YOLKS? Return the eggs into the oven and bake an extra 3 to 5 minutes, but make sure to check on the eggs at the third minute. Since these breads are baked at a high temperature, the eggs will cook pretty quickly with the top heat on. If you want a runny yolk, watch it so it doesn’t overcook. In my opinion, that runny yolk is one of the best parts of the khachapuri!
- WHAT IF I HATE RUNNY YOLKS? Then we can’t be friends. KIDDING ASIDE, you can simply bake the eggs a minute or two longer until completely set.
- HOW DO I EAT KHACHAPURI? Typically, Georgians break off parts of the bread on the outside then dip and swirl it into the hot cheese and egg center. Frankly though, I don’t think there are any rules. You can slice them into triangular pieces if you want and eat them like pizza, with the outsides of the boat acting like a crust. Either way, make sure to eat this while hot and the cheese is oozing! YUM!
Khachapuri (Georgian Cheese Bread Boats)
For the dough
- 3½ cups 420+ grams all-purpose flour, plus more as needed for dough and for dusting
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
- ¾ cup mL warm water, around 110°F
- ½ cup mL warm milk, around 110°F
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small to medium egg, for egg wash
For the filling
- 1/2 Tablespoons oil or butter
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon finely chopped shallots or onions
- 200 grams fresh or frozen spinach, squeezed dry
- 200 to 250 grams mozzarella, shredded*
- 200 grams Feta cheese, crumbled
- Salt and pepper, to season
- 4 small eggs
- Red chili flakes or other flavorings of choice
Make the dough
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add flour, salt, yeast, sugar, water, and milk. Using the dough hook, knead at medium low until the dough comes together and is almost smooth.
- Drizzle in the oil then continue kneading until dough is smooth, elastic, but still very sticky. If you find the dough too wet, add more flour a tablespoon at a time until dough is elastic and workable but still sticky and supple. (Check if the dough is elastic enough by slowly stretching out a small portion of dough. It should not easily break.)
- Evenly grease a large bowl with olive oil then transfer the dough inside. Grease your hands and form the dough into a round while you rotate it to coat all over with oil. Leave dough to ferment until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your climate.
Meanwhile, make the filling
- In a skillet or pan of choice, heat the oil or butter. Sauté garlic and onions until very aromatic. Add in the spinach and sauté until coated with the oil. If you see any liquid in the saucepan, cook it off. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
- Allow spinach to cool until just barely warm, then add into a large bowl with the two cheeses. Mix well to combine.
Assemble the bread boat
- Once the dough has sufficiently risen, punch it down and turn it out onto a generously floured work surface. Briefly knead the dough to further deflate and to coat in flour for easier handling, then form into an even round.
- Using a floured bench scraper, divide the dough into four equal portions. Shape each portion into rounds, then let rest for about 5 minutes to relax the gluten.
- Working with one piece at a time, use a rolling pin to roll out dough into a 10-inch disc. Add 1/4 of the prepared spinach-cheese mixture in the center. Now roll the two opposite ends of the dough toward the middle to form a boat shape. (You can also just fold them over part of the filling.) Pinch the ends together to seal. If desired, rotate the ends to secure the dough's shape. This also adds a design to the bread.
- Carefully transfer the bread boat onto a parchment lined baking tray using your bench scraper. Repeat with the remaining three dough rounds. Make sure to space the bread boats at least 2 inches apart on the baking tray. (You will most likely need two baking trays.)
- Leave breads to puff up for 20 to 30 minutes more. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Place baking rack at the center of the oven.
- Beat an egg and brush all over the dough, then bake breads for 15 minutes. Switch the oven to top heat and bake an extra 3 to 5 minutes to get the surface of the bread nice and golden.
- Remove from oven but don't turn it off yet. Use a spoon to create a deep wide well in the center of the melted cheese filling. Crack an egg in a bowl, then gently drop it into the well. Season with salt, pepper, red chili flakes, and other seasonings of choice.
- Return breads to oven and bake another 3 to 5 minutes using the top heat. Watch the egg to make sure it doesn't get overcooked. You want that yolk soft and runny for best eating experience.
- Allow the breads to cool about 3 minutes or so, then serve immediately. To eat, tear off parts of the bread and use to mix the egg and cheese filling together like a dip. Season with additional salt or pepper or chili, if desired.
The dough can be made the night before. After kneading the dough, place into a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge overnight. It will rise slowly in the cold. The next day, deflate the dough and cut into 4 equal pieces. Shape into boats and leave to rise for about 30 minutes in a warm place. Fill with the cheese mixture, then bake as instructed above.
Adapted from Simply Home Cooked and Zoe Bakes
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