International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Acharuli Khachapuri

A loaf of Acharuli khachapuri, Georgian cheese bread

(Georgian boat-shaped cheesebread with egg and butter)

Image Creative Commons by Sandra C

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The country of Georgia is renowned for its cheese breads, and Acharuli (or Adjaruli) khachapuri (აჭარული ხაჭაპური) — a boat-shaped loaf with a pool of cheese, egg and butter in the middle — is the most decadent and cheesy of all.

This particular version of cheese bread comes from Adjara region of western Georgia, and locals typically use sulguni and Imeretian cheese for this khachapuri, but you can substitute mozzarella, halloumi, muenster or feta. A mix of cheeses will give the best flavor and texture.

Khachapuri of all types is considered the national dish of Georgia. We can see why!

Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients

For the dough

  • Warm (110°F) water -- 1/4 cup
  • Active dry yeast -- 1 (1/4-ounce) packet
  • Flour -- 3 cups
  • Salt -- 1/2 teaspoon
  • Water -- 1/2 cup
  • Milk -- 1/4 cup
  • Melted butter -- 2 tablespoons

For the filling

  • Low-moisture mozzarella cheese, shredded -- 1 1/2 cups
  • Feta cheese, crumbled -- 1 1/2 cups
  • Whole-milk yogurt -- 3/4 cup
  • Eggs, beaten -- 2
  • Kosher salt -- 2 teaspoons

For serving

  • Eggs -- 2
  • Butter, cut into pats -- 6 tablespoons

Method

  1. In a small bowl mix together the 1/4 cup of warm water and the yeast. Set aside until the yeast is active and foamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Pour the yeast mixture into a large bowl and add the flour, salt, 1/2 cup of water, milk and melted butter and mix together with a wooden spoon. Add more water as needed, a tablespoon at a time, to form an elastic and kneadable dough is formed. Remove to a floured work surface and knead by hand for about 8 to 10 minutes until smooth.
  3. Wipe a large bowl with a little butter or oil, add the dough and cover with plastic. Set in a warm place and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  4. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Punch down the dough with your fist and knead it briefly. Cut the dough into 2 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Place the dough balls on a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled again, another 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. In a large bowl, mix together the cheeses, yogurt, eggs and salt until fairly smooth. Take care not to overmix. You want some interesting texture.
  6. Remove one of the balls of dough to a well floured work surface and roll it out into an oval shape about 1/3-inch thick and about 12 inches long and 7 or 8 inches wide. Spread half the cheese mixture over the rolled out dough, leaving a roughly 1-1/2-inch border along all the edges.
  7. Fold the sides of the dough up and over to form a boat-shaped loaf, with the edges of the dough encasing the cheese filling. Pinch the ends of the loaf together to keep them sealed. Place the loaf on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough and cheese filling.
  8. Place baking sheet with the bread in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the bread is baked through and beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and crack an egg over the cheese filling in each loaf. Return to the oven and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until the eggs are just beginning to set.
  9. Remove the bread from the oven and add a big pat of butter to the filling in each loaf. Serve immediately. Diners eat the loaf from the outside in, tearing off bits of bread and swirling them in the cheese, egg and butter before popping it all in their mouths.

Acharuli Khachapuri Variations

  • Cheese: You can really use any kind of white cheese you like, but it's best to use at least two different types: one should be a mild melting cheese like mozzarella or muenster; the other should be somewhat sharper and firmer like feta or white cheddar.
  • If you like your loaf to have a shiny finish, brush the dough with a little egg beaten with a couple tablespoons of water.

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