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Photo: Tobias Melzer
Freshly baked Stilton khachapuri
As part of a new feature for Sixth Sense, E&M's Frances Jackson will be creating exclusive European dishes for our readers. First up is her recipe for Stilton khachapuri, a Western European take on a classic bread from the Caucasus.
I first came across khachapuri nearly six years ago during my year abroad in Regensburg. The girl who lived directly beneath me was from Tbilisi, the Georgian capital. Both of us far from home, my vertical neighbour and I bonded over baking and it was she who introduced me to this most exquisite of breads, sun-kissed and welling forth with molten cheese. The following summer – in what would prove to be the most delicious week of my life – I was invited to visit her family in Georgia. Back in Germany, as the memory of "light suppers" that would last for hours, of home-made wine and fiery adjika, began to fade, I finally persuaded my friend to share her recipe for khachapuri, which I have adapted here.
This version is not exactly authentic as it does not contain any sulguni, but the addition of blue cheese adds a hearty pungency that traditional khachapuri often lacks. I've gone with Stilton to create an Anglo-Georgian bread, but if that's not available, you could always use Roquefort or Gorgonzola. Khachapuri is best enjoyed still warm, however it does also make a rather good ready-made sandwich for a packed lunch the next day.
Photo: Tobias Melzer
An English classic, brimming with Eastern promise
Move over Harry and Sally, there's a far more interesting new pairing in town! E&M's Frances Jackson shares a recipe for a bold and romantic take on the classic Victoria sponge – delicately spiced with cardamom and rose water, sandwiched together with a pistachio and pomegranate cream, and just in time for Valentine's Day.
There is something about cardamom – its dominant, almost mint-like aroma; those citrusy notes, paired with an unexpected sweetness – that transports me, even in the depths of winter, to warmer climes and balmy nights. Rose water, on the other hand, is perfumed opulence, an alluring drop of summer, distilled to perfection in a technique said to have been discovered by Persian physician Avicenna in the 10th century.
Whether you're making this cake for that special someone in your life or as a treat to enjoy with friends, don't stint on the spices: the almond sponge is just a pencil outline, the cardamom and rosewater your colour pigments. The filling too should be positively studded with pistachios and pomegranate seeds, shining like gems in the ermine of the cream. Even if seduction is not on your mind, you'll find few able to withstand the temptation...