Classic Georgian adjaruli khachapuri are dough boats filled with melty, briny cheese and egg yolk, and cleverly equipped with little dough handles just asking to be torn off and dunked into that golden yolk. It's just dreamy.
The day I learned about this classic Georgian cheese bread my world got a little brighter. I'm no stranger to briny cheese in baked goods, it's features in so many of my favourite Romanian savoury treats like feta pie (placinta cu telemea).
Adjaruli khachapuri brings something new to the table for me though and that's the beautiful golden yolk and perfect little dough handles for dunking into that yolk. It's like a meal and a fun activity in one.
Also be assured, one of these dough boats is most definitely a meal. They're really generously portioned and I would recommend serving them as part of a breakfast spread with other cold appetizers - see the serving suggestions for more info.
The ingredients for adjaruli khachapuri are a simple leavened dough for the dough boat, and a cheesy filling to go inside. The cheesy filling is where you will need to make some choices if you aren't in Georgia or in close proximity to a Georgian grocer (if you are, lucky you).
The traditional cheeses used to make adjaruli khachapuri in Georgia are called imeruli and sulguni.
Since these ingredients aren't easy to find in most supermarkets, this recipe substitutes feta and mozzarella. There's also crème fraiche in the mixture to add creaminess to the mix - this isn't really traditional but I think it brings nice balance to the other cheeses.
For the dough
- Flour, water, yeast, salt: The dough used to make this adjaruli khachapuri is a simple yeasted dough. This recipe is made with dry yeast but you can also use fresh (just use twice as much fresh yeast by weight as you would dry).
For the cheese filling
- Feta: Feta adds the salty and briny component normally brought by the Georgian sulguni cheese.
- Fresh mozzarella: Fresh mozzarella brings the fresh, stringy quality that the traditional imeruli cheese would bring.
- Crème fraiche: Adds creaminess and helps the other cheeses incorporate better.
- Egg yolks: The egg yolks go in right near the end of baking so they only cook enough to set but keep that runny yolk (but if you don't like a runny yolk just cook a few minutes more until set).
Cheese and egg yolk is the classic filling for adjaruli khachapuri but you can also improvise here and try other filling options. One of my favourites is filling khachapuri with shakshuka.
The method is quite simple as far as doughs go and just involves a bit of mixing, kneading and resting.
To make the adjaruli khachapuri dough:
- Bloom the yeast in water: Add the yeast to tepid water and mix in. Wait until the yeast foams - this means it's active. If you're using instant yeast instead of active dry or fresh yeast, it won't foam.
- Mix the dry ingredients: Mix together the flour and salt. If you fancy adding any herbs to the dough, then this is the moment to do so.
- Pour the wet into the dry: Pour the water and yeast mixture over the flour and salt. Use a large wooden spoon or fork to mix it until there is no liquid water left.
- Knead then rest the dough: Once the wet and dry are mixed, you'll have a shaggy dough. Knead for about 5 minutes (or use an electric mixer with the dough hook attachment). Once the dough is smooth, put it in a container large enough for the dough to double in size).
- Proof the dough: Cover with cling film or a lid and rest until doubled in size (at minimum 2 hours at room temperature or overnight in the fridge - then allow to come back to room temperature).
- Shape the dough: Cut the dough into 4 equal sized balls. Use a rolling pin to flatten them to about the thickness of naan bread and then gently move them to a parchment lined baking tray. The reason for moving them before shaping is that they are easier to move before they're shaped into boats. My preferred method to shape the boats is to roll the edges inwards, then twirl each edge roll together into one to form a long knob. Do this for both the top and bottom as shown in the photos.
- Proof again: Once the dough is shaped, lightly cover it and let it proof again until it's inflated back up. It depends on the temperature in your kitchen but it can take from 40 minutes to 1 hour.
- Fill the dough: Once the dough has puffed back up, then you can gently apply the egg wash and spoon in the filling, leaving an empty spot in the middle for the egg yolk.
Roll out the dough then transfer it to the baking sheet.
Shape into a boat in the pan.
Quick hand kneading tutorial: Fold the dough over itself along the middle, flatten it down firmly with the heel of your hand, turn it a quarter turn, and then flatten it down again. Repeat this process until the dough is uniform and smooth. Dust with a bit more flour if it sticks to your palm or fingers too much. You can also use an electric stand mixer with a dough hook attachment.
Once the dough is shaped, proofed and ready to bake, then mix the filling ingredients.
Spoon the filling into the khachapuri boats and then bake in preheated oven.
Once the khachapuri is golden brown and almost ready, take them out and put one egg yolk in the center of each.
I love serving khachapuri as part of a breakfast spread with other cold antipasti like pickles, roasted red pepper, more feta (why not), tomato salad, salted cucumbers, olives, lightly dressed greens, roasted eggplant spread, hummus and other small bites that fit this flavor palette.
You can definitely make this dough the same day you want to serve it if you plan enough time for the dough to proof sufficiently. It's also nice to just do a bit of forward planning (if you have that luxury) and make the dough ahead of time.
After proofing, punch down the dough and then cover and refrigerate for 1-2 days or until ready to use. When ready to use, bring the dough to room temperature then shape it and follow the rest of the recipe as normal.
Storage & reheating
The khachapuri are quite large so my preferred method for storing them is to put them in a large zipper bag in the fridge. To reheat give them a quick zap in the microwave or otherwise let them come back up to room temperature to avoid the egg yolk getting cooked again.
Looking for more savory baking inspiration? Try these:
Georgian Cheese Bread (Adjaruli Khachapuri)
for the dough
- 550 grams flour Equals 4 cups and 6 tablespoons
- 350 ml lukewarm water Equals 1.5 cups
- 7 grams active dry yeast Equals 1 tablespoon, or substitute 20 grams fresh yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 egg for egg wash (optional)
for the filling
- 250 grams feta cheese approximately 2 cups
- 125 grams crème fraiche approximately ½ cup
- 150 grams mozzarella approximately ⅔ cup
- 2 egg yolks
to finish and garnish
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons butter about half a tablespoon in each boat
make the dough
- Add the yeast and water to a large mixing bowl and wait until the yeast blooms i.e. foams up.
- In another bowl combine the flour and salt.
- Once the yeast has bloomed, add the flour mixture and use a spoon or fork to roughly mix it until it's mostly incorporated.
- Once incorporated begin to knead it with your hands until it's completely incorporated and has a smooth surface.
- Cover and proof until doubled in volume (at least 2 hours at room temperature or overnight in the fridge).
shape and fill the khachapuri
- Cut the dough into 4 evenly sized balls. Lightly roll out on a well floured surface until around the size, shape and thickness of naan.
- Move the rolled out dough to a parchment lined baking sheet. Roll the outer edges inwards to create the characteristic walled shape, pinching the dough together at the top and bottom to seal it.
- Let the boats proof at room temperature until puffed up (40 minutes to one hour).
- Preheat oven to 200 C / 350 F.
- Once the dough boats are proofed, gently apply egg wash (and any garnish on the dough) then spoon the cheese filling into each boat.
- Bake the boats until risen and golden (about 35-40 minutes).
- Remove from oven, use a spoon to gently make a space in the middle of each boat and place an egg yolk in.
- Bake another 3-4 minutes for runny yolks, or 5-6 for firm yolks.
- Garnish with a knob of butter in each boat if desired.