Spinach Khachapuri

Posted on August 12, 2016 by Anna

Taken from Samarkand by Caroline Eden and Eleanor Ford.
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Khachapuri, a hot cheese-filled bread, claims the title of Georgia’s ultimate comfort food. It is so much a staple of the Georgian diet that the Khachapuri Index uses the price of the ingredients as a measure of local inflation. Of the many variations, the most ubiquitous is the round, pizza-like imeritian. Families will have a large loaf to tear and share at the table, while street vendors make individual “beggar’s purses.” This recipe draws on different local traditions: plentiful fresh greens to cut the oiliness of the cheese, and the beautiful boat shape of the version made in Ajara on the Black Sea.

Makes 2
For the dough
1¼ cups bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon fast-action dried yeast
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon superfine sugar
1/3 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons warm water
For the filling
2½ cups spinach leaves
1 cup firm mozzarella cheese, grated
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
¼ cup ricotta cheese
2 scallions
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon chopped dill fronds or tarragon
3 eggs
salt and freshly ground black pepper
cold butter, to serve

For the dough; sift the flour into a bowl, adding the yeast on one side and the salt and sugar on the other. Stir in the yogurt and water while you mix with your other hand. You may need a splash more warm water to bring the dough together, but it shouldn’t be wet. Turn onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until soft and silky. Return to the bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise for 2 hours.
For the filling, steam the spinach for 3 minutes, or until just wilted. Set aside to cool, then squeeze out all the liquid. Chop and put in a bowl with the cheeses, scallions, herbs, and one of the eggs. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.
Flour a rolling pin and work surface. Divide the dough in half, form each into a ball, then coax into a thin oval shape about 10 inches long with the rolling pin. Spoon the filling in mounds in the middle. Bring up the edges over the cheese and pinch together at the ends to create the hull of your boat shape.
Preheat the oven to 475°F and put a pizza stone or baking sheet in to get very hot. Using a floured cutting board, slide the khachapuri boats onto the hot stone. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes—the cheese should be puffed up and golden. Use a metal spoon to push aside the filling and create a well in the center. Break an egg into each boat and return to the oven for 5 minutes or until the egg is just set. Serve at once with a slice of cold butter on top.