The culture of baking Georgian bread in clay oven
21 December, 2017
Baking bread has a long tradition in Georgia. It is a ritual of daily life here. Georgian bread, known as shoti or tonis puri, is the favorite supplement for almost each Georgian and most of them even cannot imagine having a meal without pairing with a good loaf of Georgian bread, be it breakfast, dinner or super, without eating it.
Georgian bread

For Georgian people, in particular inhabitants of the villages, baking bread is as important as winemaking tradition and
each Georgian holds pride because of these two rituals. According to the locals, baking bread is a blessed job and just like wine, bread is a gift from the God.
In Georgia, bread is traditionally baked in a deep circular clay oven called tone.
Georgian bread, especially the long pointed bread called shotis puri, is very popular and is usually served with every meal. Shotis puri is made of white flour and shaped like a canoe. As a rule, shoti bread is made with a mix of flour, water, salt and yeast. After mixing you should knead the dough by hand, let it rise and then bake in hot round oven.
Newly baked bread – shoti, is distinguished with its unforgettable taste and flavor. One can find it in almost any district of Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, as long as most of the streets in Georgia have at least one traditional bakery. Throughout different regions of Georgia, almost every household has its own clay owen in the backyard where these delicious and organic bread is baked.
Yet, the best shoti in the country is believed to be baked in Kakheti Region. Almost every local in Kakheti has traditional round clay owen tone in the yard and bakes shoti bread. It is noteworthy that baking Georgian shoti bread is not an easy task as long as the owen is very hot and sticking the dough to its walls requires a good skill.
Baking Georgian shoti bread is not an easy task

Newly baked shoti bread goes well with Georgian cheese and tomato as well as ideally pairs with Georgian barbeque – Mtsvadi, soft and juicy fried meat.
Mtsvadi is also favorite dish in Kakheti and the locals can offer you the best variety of this food. So, Kakheti is the best place for tasting a real shoti bread baked in accordance with traditional technology and recipe. Baking shoti is incredibly hard work, especially in summer when temperature reaches nearly 40C. Everything is done by hand.
Mtsvadi (Georgian barbeque)

The bakers make a heavy mix of flour, water, salt and yeast, the dough is then shaped into long strips and put it in hot tone. The tone takes around one and a half hours to reach the required temperature for baking the bread.

Removing the bread from hot clay owen requires considerable skills as well, so the baker of shoti should be experienced professional in this field. With a long-handled hook in one hand and a kind of scraping tool in the other, they carefully take each piece of bread and flip them onto a rack.

The smell of the freshly baked bread is simply mouthwatering and a hardly-resistable temptation. As it was already mentioned above, shoti is especially delicious with mtsvadi, Georgian barbeque, but the most popular combination in Georgia is shoti bread with cheese. The best kind of cheese in this case is Tushetian guda cheese from the mountainous Tusheti Region of Georgia, which is made with sheep milk and has a very specific and different taste and flavor.
Tushetian guda cheese with shoti bread. photo courtesy Alaznistavi

Shoti bread with Tushetian cheese and aromatic Georgian tea is a quite popular breakfast throughout the country.

The shoti bread is served as any other bread, but it tends to be more popular on special celebrations such as Easter, Christmas, and New Year's Day, as well as birthdays and weddings. As for the New Year and Christmas, among the other traditional dishes, shotis puri is an integral part of festive table in Georgia.

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