pies · sweet

Ualibah, Caucasian Cheese Pie

To celebrate my Father’s b-day yesterday, we made a gourmet lunch, with his favourite mushroom soup, Ossetia cheese pie, meat (of course), Greek olives, salad, Greek wine and a killer chocolate cake (see further). Together with a very gourmet gift (Greek mustard, Italian sausage, Spanish olives, Greek wine and French cheese…), this was a ‘belly’s holiday’ as we call it in Russian (prazdnik zhivota).

The idea to make an Ossetia cheese pie appeared because I came across a new version of the famous and much sought-for suluguni cheese, the one I told you about when I made Georgian pie Khachapuri.

   

The next day I was no less lucky as I came across Adygea cheese (fresh salted white cheese, very soft, something like the Greek anthotyros or mizithra).

The both originate from the Caucasus, the region where my Father grew up. He’s THE expert in the pies and traditional foods of the region, as well as is my Mom, who still remembers the real suluguni from Georgia sold during the Soviet times. We were lucky this time to get the correct type of suluguni, close enough to its authentic texture, which when baked makes a salty and a bit rubbery-stretchy filling.

I combined both cheeses together with some fresh herbs (dill, spring onion, parsley) and added no extra salt, bringing them all to a cohesive mass with a splash of Greek yoghurt. So, when baked, the filling was almost as if it contained brinza cheese, a more salty Romanian version of feta cheese.

This is why the pie reminds me of the Khachapuri we used to buy during my early childhood years from a local fresh pie bakery – they used to sell from the window which overlooked the street. Can you imagine the aroma??? Ohhh… The difference between this pie,  Ualibah, and the Khachapuri I made before, is that the dough is leavened and the filling contains almost nothing but the cheese. The recipe though is also from the Soviet times, with all those ‘5 grams of that or that’ (how are you supposed to measure it without accurate digital scales? very easily – a true Soviet housewife knows by heart how much of what weighs 5 g =) don’t ask me, though!) along with no indications as for at what temp. and for how long to bake it, or about the dough rising time.

Ualibah, Ossetia Brined Cheese Pie (Ualibah Tsahdzhin Tsihtima)  adapted from www.iriston.com (recipe in Russian) will make a superb pie especially if you get the right cheese!

Ingredients

For the dough:  enough for 4 small pies

  • 300 g flour – I used all purpose + added some wheat bran
  • 2 glasses (not cups!) buttermilk / milk – I used milk+water and less than 2 glasses
  • 5 g sugar
  • 5 g fresh yeast / baking soda (for a quicker version) – this time I made leavened dough
  • 30 g margarine – I used butter
  • salt, to taste

Filling: (NOT enough for 4 pies, had to at least double it)

  • 200 g brined cheese – my choice was suluguni (try using Haloumi)+ some Adygea cheese (fresh salted white cheese), fresh herbs
  • 50 g sour cream / water – I used Polish version of Greek yoghurt (7.5% fat)
  • melted butter for brushing – I used kefir instead, and you can try egg+water or egg yolk or milk…

{grated suluguni + crumbled Adygea cheese + chopped herbs + a splash of Greek yoghurt }

Method (translated from the original source with my remarks)

Sift the flour, make a well in the centre, put your yeast / soda, pour in warm buttermilk / milk, softened margarine, sugar and salt, and knead into soft dough. Cover with a clean towel and leave to rise (I left my dough for about 4 hours at room temp.)

Grate finely your hard brined cheese (suluguni in my case), knead it a bit with your hands so that no clumps of cheese are left, add some water / sour cream to soften it, mix again (here I added some soft cheese and Greek yoghurt + chopped some fresh herbs).

Divide the risen dough into equal parts (I opted for 4 almost equal parts for 4 small pies), rolling out each piece into a rough round. (Here is the golden rule – the thinner the better, as the true Caucasian pie has more filling than  dough). Put the filling in the middle of a round, leaving a 3—4 cm border. Pull the edges of the dough to the centre, pinching them together. Flatten the pie with the palm of your hand, flip it over and flatten again, bringing the pie to a roundish shape and equal thickness.

{turn these…}

Place the pie(s) on a greased and slightly warmed pan (I took a large baking tray and lined it with paper). Make a small slit (I made a hole with my finger) in the middle of the pie. Bake (at 180 ‘C for about 30 mins or more / less depending on the size of your pie). Brush with melted butter when ready (instead, I brushed some kefir on top of the pies before baking, adding no extra fat later=).

{into these!}

Eat warm, because the oozy cheese is just heavenly! =) If you’re lucky to choose a successful type of cheese, it will give off some of its grease while baking, creating a very soft and chewy filling. Just like this:

Oh, cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese, I feel like that moustached rat from Chip & Dale cartoon! 😉

Yep, this tall mushroom below is actually the b-day cake for my Father, the fan of everything chocolate and cream =) Dan Lepard’s Sour Cream Chocolate Cake taken from www.guardian.co.uk (I made some changes, of course, like adding some coffee, cinnamon, cayenne pepper to the dough and using less chocolate but some ground burnt, ooops, toasted nuts to the cream).

I didn’t have a 18 cm pan either so I used my 21cm glass pan instead, which is not that appropriate for making straight cake layers… This is how I ended up with a mushroom-looking cake=) As the layers were tall enough, I divided them in two, and still the cream was abundant, more than enough for the filling and for frosting. After an overnight rest in the fridge, the cake somehow turned out quite nice in appearance, so I decided to leave it as it is. Guess HOW chocolatey it is, taking into consideration the fact that there were three chocolate bars in the recipe… Popoopoppoo!

G.

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