Georgian Cheese Bread
by Daniel Rogov
In a small glass, mix together 1/2 cup of the milk, the yeast and 1 tsp. of the sugar. Let stand at room temperature for 10 - 15 minutes and then add this mixture to the remaining milk.
Place 3 cups of flour into a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add the milk, remaining sugar and the softened butter. Stir with a rubber spatula until a firm dough ball is formed.
Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes, adding flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking. When the dough is elastic and no longer sticky, transfer to a greased bowl, turning it so that it is coated on all sides. Cover with a lightly dampened cloth and let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours).
Punch the dough down and let rise again until doubled in bulk (about 30 minutes).
Grate the Camembert cheese and crumble the goat cheese. Combine the two, add the egg and mix well.
Punch the dough down again and then roll out on a lightly floured surface to a circle of about 50 cm. in diameter. Fold the dough into quarters and place the point in the center of a 23 cm. pan with sides about 5 cm high. Unfold the dough and let the excess hang over the sides.
Spoon the cheese mixture onto the dough and then pick up the excess dough hanging over the edges and pleat it over the cheese. Make sure all the pleats go in the same direction. Gather the ends of the dough in the center and twist into a small knob. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Brush the top of the dough with melted butter and bake on the center shelf of an oven that has been pre-heated to 190° Celsius (375° Fahrenheit), until the bread is golden (about 1 hour). Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Daniel Rogov is the restaurant and wine critic for the daily newspaper Ha'aretz. He is also the senior writer for Wine and Gourmet Magazine and contributes culinary and wine articles to newspapers in Europe and the United States.
Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry and Rogov's Ramblings. Reprinted with permission.