Khachapuri

A savoury cheese bread from Georgia, one of the southern republics of the U.S.S.R., Khachapuri (kha-chah-poor-ee) is so popular that individual breads are made and sold by hawkers in the streets. The individual breads are made in the form of open flans from circles of dough.

½ oz. fresh yeast

½ teaspoon sugar

4 to

5 fl. oz. lukewarm milk

1 lb. flour

1 teaspoon salt

3 oz. plus

1 teaspoon butter, melted

If lb. Caerphilly or any crumbly white cheese, crumbled

2 oz. butter, softened

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

Crumble the yeast into a small bowl and mash in the sugar with a fork. Add 4 tablespoons of the milk and cream the milk and yeast together. Set the bowl aside in a warm, draught-free place for 15 to 20 minutes or until the yeast mixture is puffed up and frothy.

Sift the flour and salt into a warmed large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture, the remaining milk and 3 ounces of the butter. Using your fingers or a spatula, gradually draw the flour mixture into the liquids. Continue mixing until all the flour is incorporated and the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured board or marble slab and knead it for 8 minutes, reflouring the surface if the dough becomes sticky. The dough should be elastic and smooth.

Rinse, thoroughly dry and lightly grease the large mixing bowl. Shape the dough into a ball and return it to the bowl.

Cover the bowl with a clean damp cloth and set it in a warm, draught-free place. Leave it for 1 hour, or until the dough has risen and almost doubled in bulk.

Turn the risen dough out of the bowl on to a floured surface and knead it for about 3 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and return it to the bowl. Cover and leave for 1 hour, or until it has risen and almost doubled in bulk.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mash the cheese, butter, egg, egg yolk and parsley together, beating until the ingredients are well blended. Place the bowl in the refrigerator and chill the mixture until it is required.

With the remaining teaspoon of butter, lightly grease an 8-inch loose-bottomed cake tin and set it aside.

Turn the risen dough out of the bowl on to a floured surface and, with a rolling pin, roll it out into a circle, approximately 21 inches in diameter. Lift the dough circle carefully on the rolling pin and place it over the cake tin so that there is an even amount of dough hanging all around the tin. Gently ease the dough into the tin, leaving the excess dough hanging over the sides.

Remove the filling from the refrigerator and spoon it into the centre of the lined tin. With your fingers, draw the excess dough up and over the filling, pleating it into loose folds. Gather the dough in the centre and twist it into a small knob.

Preheat the oven to fairly hot 400 °F (Gas Mark 6, 200°C).

Set the dough aside in a warm, draught-free place for 20 minutes, or until the dough has risen and increased in bulk.

Place the tin in the oven and bake the bread for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to moderate 350 °F (Gas Mark 4, 180°C) and bake for a further 20 minutes, or until the bread is well risen and deep golden in colour.

Remove the bread from the oven and leave it to cool in the tin for 30 minutes. Remove the sides and place the bread, still on the base of the tin, on a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve the bread cold.

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