Have you ever heard of khachapuri? This unique cheese-and-egg bread is the national dish of Georgia (the country, not the state), and it is absolutely delicious. This recipe is easy and yields extremely flavorful results. A simple, leavened, pizza-like dough is stretched, but then instead of being topped with tomato sauce, it’s covered with cheese and then par-baked. The baking is paused to crack an egg on top and dot the surface with butter, then the flatbread is cooked a few more minutes to help the egg cook and to bring the crust to crispy, golden perfection.
There are a number of regional variations on this dish in Georgia. Apparently, this version is considered the Adjarian style, named for a region in the southwest of the country. If you’ve never tried this unique cheesy-eggy flatbread, make today the day, please. It makes a fantastic brunch dish, but also makes for a hearty meal when served with a salad, or could be shared as an appetizer.
Makes 4 approximately 9″ long portions
For the Dough:
- 3½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey (can substitute sugar)
- 1 teaspoon yeast
For the Filling:
- 1½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1½ cup feta cheese
- 5 eggs (4 whole eggs for the bread, plus one for the egg wash)
- 1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces (optional)
- Salt, pepper or other seasonings, to taste
In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment), combine the flour and salt. Give a quick stir by hand to combine.
In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, water, olive oil and honey. Heat on low until the liquid is warm (about 105 F). Remove from heat. If the mixture is hotter, let it cool until it’s in the 105 F range. Add the yeast, and let sit until the yeast begins to slightly foam. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients.
Using the dough hook, mix for 3-5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Alternatively, you can do this by hand, first stirring to combine and then kneading for 6-8 minutes.
Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean, slightly damp kitchen towel and let sit until doubled in size, about an hour.
Gently punch down the dough; re-cover and let it rise again, this time for about 30 minutes, or until puffed back up.
Near the end of the second rising period, preheat the oven to 450 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine both cheeses and stir to evenly distribute.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a bench scraper, divide into four equal portions.
Working with one portion at a time, stretch the dough into an approximately 9″ long oval. Set the dough on the baking sheet and pinch the ends to make the dough into a marquise shape (or if you prefer, a sort of dough boat). Press the center of the dough in deeper than the edges, so that you have an ½” raised crust. Repeat with the remaining portions.
Scatter the cheese evenly across the surface of each portion; brush the edges with your egg wash.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove from the oven, but don’t turn off the heat. Flatten a well in the center with a spoon — make the well fairly large, patting down a good portion of the cheese-coated surface, to make room for the egg.
Carefully crack a single egg on top of each portion so that it lays in the well you created. If desired, you can also place a few chunks of butter across the cheesy surface of each portion — this makes it extra-rich and delicious.
Note: Don’t sweat it too much if a little bit of the egg drips over. You can gently spoon it back into place, or just leave it as-is. The egg will still cook, but part of the white may “set” off of the bread surface.
Carefully return the bread to the still-hot oven, and bake until the bread is deeply golden and the egg whites have turned opaque. The egg will still glisten and have a distinct jiggle when you take it out of the oven.