The national pizza of Georgia is simple, and delightful, to make at home.

By Jenny Adams

Pizza is beloved around the world. It’s a dish deeply iconic to many places far beyond Naples, Italy. Pizza lends itself to experimentation and style, and multiple cities and countries count it among their identifying staples, from Chicago’s polarizing deep-dish to New York’s fundamentally flat slices, ideal for pinching and consuming on the go, oil mopped up with a thin, paper-plate napkin.

Khachapuri is a pizza style you might not be familiar with, born in the Caucasus Mountain region––specifically the Republic of Georgia. It’s here––in fine dining and in roadside gas stations, from family homes to public celebrations––that you will find Khachapuri served all day. It’s a pizza of the people and a symbol for the nation.

Khachapuri directly translates to cottage cheese bread. It’s made with Imeretian there, a cheese with a crumbly, gooey white curd. In America, the closest substitute for it is Feta, and the second cheese––Sulguni––is easily swapped with Mozzarella.

Khachapuri is not round like American pies, but shaped instead like a boat.The thick crust edges and tapered ends keep the looser filling in the boat, and Khachapuri is believed to trace origins to the Adjarian communities of southwestern Georgia. Ask an Armenian or someone in Turkey, and you might get different histories, but, regardless, the combination of creamy cheese, soft egg yolk, butter, oil and bread has understandable staying power.

Next time you have a few hours to kill, a real appetite and a desire to broaden your pizza game, give this recipe a try.

You can also opt for a store-bought pizza crust, saving time. Just mold it easily into the beautiful boat shape, and once you’ve mastered the standard, try a Turkish variation, by adding ground meat and spices.

Dough Ingredients:

  • 2.5 cups (or, 400 grams) All-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. dry active yeast
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 6.5 oz. warm water (at 105 degrees)

To Prepare the Dough:

Place all dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Add warm waterIncorporate and, on a lightly floured surface, gently knead until you form a soft dough. Pour olive oil into a clean bowl, gently toss the dough ball until covered in oil. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and let rest in a warm room. Dough should double in size, after approximately 2 hours. This will depend on the temperature in the room.

Cheese filling:

  • 7 oz. of Feta
  • 7 oz. of Fresh mozzarella
  • 1/3 cup All-purpose flour
  • 1 oz. Cold water
  • 1 Egg white (Set yolk aside for later)

To prepare the cheese filling, mix egg white, water and flour well. Add to cheese in a large bowl and stir until well combined. Note: The cheese may still be clumpy.

Making the Iconic Boat Shape:

On a lightly floured surface, stretch and roll dough into a circle, 1/4-inch thick, 10 to 12 inches across. Brush off excess flour, then lay the dough on a sheet tray covered in parchment paper. Using your fingers, roll, press and pinch two opposite sides of the circle a few inches into the center, building sides up, then press and pinch the narrow ends together to form two points.

Continue to pinch and press the sides to create a raised rim and form the dough into an oval boat, with an eye-like shape. Let rest in a warm place for 10 minutes before filling. For a video demonstration, head to minute 6:00 on this video.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

To Bake:

Fill the bread boat with cheese filling. Bake at 400-degrees until golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, top with the egg yolk and 1 pat of butter (both optional). Serve immediately, stirring egg and butter before cutting.