Georgian recipe · pies · sweet · sweet bread · traditional Russian recipe

More Soviet Experiments

Finally, here are two more quite Soviet recipes with minimal instructions which I somehow managed to follow and eat =) As it’s clear that I’m still unemployed, it’s ok to take advantage of this time to write posts, n’est ce pas?

Georgian cheese bread from nami-nami.blogspot.com

The first one is sour non-yeast flat pie Khachapuri (Georgian: ხაჭაპური (!!!!!) – xač’ap’uri or ‘cheese bread’) from traditional Georgian cuisine that is made from suluguni cheese, a bit like Greek cheese halloumi, also with this special texture, as if it’s meat that you can divide into layers or better threads or fibre (do you get that??). My Father is an expert on Caucasian dishes having been born in Kabardino-Balkar Republic where my Grandpa moved with his wife to work in the mines. He recalls the best khachapUri (the accent on the 2nd syllable from the end) pies which dough was of a crepe thickness (I would rather say thinness) and of course the harmonious proportion between the cheese filling and the dough.Yes, the CHEESE, it should be a real suluguni, and even here in Russia, with so many Georgians here we still have some rubbery suluguni that is in no way close to the original. So I advise you to get hold of some feta or any decent pickled cheese and mix it with some hard type of cheese (or even halloumi if you’re lucky!).

It’s the second recipe I’m using to recreate authentic khachapuri pies, the first one was from Nami-nami blog, held by an Estonian occasionally cooking something from Georgian and Russian cuisine. Go here for the recipe and if you choose to make it, be sure to roll the dough finely and even make 2 huge pies, because I didn’t and my pie got tooooooo much of dough. On the left is the result, you can see how tall is the dough part, although the taste was equally nice!

On the right is the result out of the recipe from already mentioned Culinary Dictionary A to Z, with lots of tzatziki sauce and generally more like khatchapuri: less dough, more cheese is the principle. My expert Pohlyobkin, cause I once more referred to his book for the recipe, says that if the dough is made with yeast, that’s not the authentic pie! Also he mentions other a bit contradictory things, like ‘the amount of cheese should be 2 times more than the flour’ and then he offers to take half a kilo of cheese and ‘as much flour etc‘ for a LITRE of liquids (that means MUCH more flour than 250 g!!).

Khachapuri with tzatziki sauce

Well, I adapted the recipe to nowadays conditions and here it is:

Khachapuri (adapted from a taciturn recipe in ‘O koulinarii ot A do Ya‘ by W. Pohlyobkin, pp. 192-193)

Ingredients

Dough (makes enough for 3-4 rather large pies with thin dough part)

  • 0, 5 litre matsoni (or use kefir or plain natural yoghurt) – I happened to find matsoni in a local supermarket chain, see on the right
  • 2 Soviet glasses of milk (= 500 ml milk)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tspbaking soda
  • 0, 25 (!!) tsp salt

flour till the dough is of a very slightly ‘forming/shaping’ constituency… here’s the problem – I used about a KILO of it for a litre of liquid but I’m sure a more talented especially Georgian (and not just GEORGIA) housewife would have used about 500 g or something, but I’m not THAT talented!

Matsoni on Pohlyobkin's book

Filling (makes enough for only two of the pies, the rest is up to you – I made one with still not finished Granny’s courgettes and some grated cheese and one with mince meat and spices specially for my carnivore Father the next day, keeping the somewhat fugitive dough covered in the fridge. Or just double the ingredients!)

  • 500 g pickled cheese (use feta, halloumi or a mixture of some salted pickled cheeses from your area) – I used that fake suluguni and only around 340 g, so I ended up with lots of dough and no filling left
  • 1-2 eggs (I used 1 whole egg and a leftover egg white)
  • 25-50 g butter, melted (I used about 20 g)

Suluguni cheese

Method

First prepare the filling, which is a tricky process but – remember! – in the end you’ll get a truly Georgian khatchapuri!!: place your cheese in an enameled bowl (do not let metal come into contact with your cheese, so use enameled dish!) filled with cold water and leave for 5 hours – that’s how you’ll get rid of extra salt in your cheese.  Than mash your cheese with a spoon to a constituency of a paste, add eggs and melted butter (I skipped the soaking part as my cheese was far from being salty, so try a bit and decide for yourself, perhaps you’ll even have to add more salt! I also had problems MASHING the cheese, cause without any soaking and also being VERY rubbery, it just wouldn’t mash).

dough

Dough (there are no instructions concerning the process, so I’ll tell you what I did) is simply a mixture of all the stated ingredients and then proceed to the flour experiment – add as little as possible (I suggest making half of the recipe), till you get just slightly pliable dough, enough so that you can put on a greased baking sheet (or a skillet), roll it out perhaps even with your fingers, spread the filling in the centre, lift the edges as if you’re making a hand pie or calzone, seal the dough and quickly turn the whole thing over, flatten and make a whole in the centre. Pohlyobkin writes that you should then put it in the oven COVERED (I covered it with aluminium foil) for 10 min (I preheated oven to 180 C at first but then understood that 200 should be better, so bake at 200 C) and then TURN it over, which is just impossible if your pie is huge, so I skipped this turning over and just brushed as instructed the top with some butter and egg, returned the pies to bake additional 40 min or so – if you bake 2 pies at a time, make sure to change their position, to rotate them too, so that not only one of them gets all the heat and both are baked through and nicely browned.

Khachapuri

Result: The pies are great, with any filling and of course better on the day of baking but if you happen to make the original amount of dough and end up with lots of pies, just warm them up the next day in a microwave or better in oven. The finer you roll the dough, the more filling you put, the greater is the result!

Khachapuri inside

***

And for the dessert – a recipe that I came across while searching for one that will enable me to reproduce one of my favourite store-bought sweet treats – an ‘envelope’ with jam (konvertik s povidlom), usually with apple jam, almost apple sauce. It’s most certainly NOT made out of puff pastry so I ignored the ones where this kind of dough was required and finally made my choice. The original recipe is truly Soviet, although perhaps not that much truly traditional, with amazing measurements and enormous quantities etc.  I halved the recipe and still got a LOT. So if you have nice thick jam on hand (and we DO) along with fresh yeast (that can be easily substituted with active dry or even instant yeast, just Google the topic), go ahead!

Jam envelopes

The author claims that this dough is suitable even for pizza as it almost doesn’t contain sugar but I wouldn’t try using it for pizza (poor Italians! if only they knew…) but for some small mmm I would say sweet pies it’s ok.

Jam Envelopes (already halved, adapted from here, recipe is in Russian, of course)

Ingredients

  • 200 g butter or margarine, at room temperature – I took less, about 150 g perhaps
  • 0,5 l jar of flour (?!?!?) – just measure 500 ml flour or 3 cups =) and I used more as usual
  • 25 g fresh yeast (or make proportional substitution with dry yeast)
  • 0,5 of a famous Soviet glass of milk – or just take o,5 cup milk + 2 Tbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs white sugar
  • half a pinch of salt (haha!)
  • half a Tbs vegetable oil
  • vanilla sugar, to taste
  • jam, thick (I used blackcurrant, the same as for Linzer cupcakes and it was still not THAT thick)
  • chopped nuts, optional (not sure they’ll be ok here)
  • egg yolk (my addition – useful for securing the corners of the envelops and for brushing)

Method

Rub together fresh yeast and sugar, heat the milk (do not boil or you’ll kill the yeast) a bit and pour it over the mixture. Add some flour (just lllllloooooovvvveee these instructions!), mix and set aside for 10 min (let’s say, add the flour till the mixture constituency resembles that of not thick sour cream, this is called opara or poolish or starter, but doesn’t take hours or overnight to get ready, you’ll see a kind of cloudy white cap emerging on the surface). Sift the rest of the flour and then rub the butter/margarine into the flour (‘cut’ it together with the flour).

Beat the egg into the opara and add vanilla sugar and oil, then merge with flour-butter crumbly mixture (it should be crumbly, eh?) and knead till you get, well, dough. Leave to rest for half an hour, OBLIGATORILY covering the bowl with plastic film (in Russian the effect that you will get otherwise on your dough can be translated literally ‘being WINDed’, sorry for grammar=).

Roll the dough out to desired thickness (eh?!), cut out squares (hmmm, well, my mathematics resulted in some 12 squares, I suppose). Put jam in the middle of each square (here be careful not to put too much, leave the borders free and also make sure that your jam is REALLY thick! you can even put it into the fridge for some time so that it doesn’t spread all over the piece of dough and beyond! The author advises to add some chopped nuts if the jam is not thick but I didn’t do it).

Jam envelopes

Lift the corners and fold them as an envelope (here I just dipped my finger in the egg yolk, reputed for its clue-like facilities, then brushed the corners with a bit of it and pinched the corners). (CAREFULLY) place them on a baking sheet (I buttered it. They will puff while in the oven, so leave spaces between the envelopes), bake at medium temperature (??!! 180 C was OK) till LIGHTLY BROWNED (AGAIN?!?!? it took mine some 15 min and I also brushed them with the rest of the egg yolk for a nicer crust before baking).

Surely I was too generous with the jam (that we’re trying to use up, hehe) at first and my envelopes gave away some jam but as they cool (DO remove them from the sheet quickly though, because otherwise the jam will solidify and you’ll have some problems lifting them) the jam gets thicker so it was OK. The dough is nice (and even on the next day) and light, without much yeasty taste.

P.S. Always forget to tell you that tsp = teaspoon and Tbs = tablespoon in my Ingredients lists, which are both quite a relative measurement, I know, but I find it less challenging than grams…

Coming soon!

G.

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