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Banirov Hatz 
Bender Hootz

Armenian Cheese Bread 

500°F Oven
Serves 10 - 12

Bender hootz
Banirov Hatz, pronounced as "Bender Hootz" in Kessabtzi, is served as an appetizer or snack. Aunt Florence would always offer a choice of V8 or apple juice to go along with it. A reasonable imitation can be made by simply spreading the topping on a pizza shell or pita bread and baking.
 
Crust
5 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup Crisco shortening
1/2 package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3 Tablespoons lukewarm water
1 1/2 cup warm water
 
Cheese Topping
1 pound dry curd cottage cheese
2 ounces bleu cheese
1 1/2 Tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 large or 2 small sweet yellow onion(s)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon crushed oregano
1/3 cup olive oil

Preparation
  1. Make dough

  2. Mix flour and salt 
    Mix yeast, sugar and 3 Tablespoons lukewarm water. Allow to stand for 2 or 3 minutes. 
    Add yeast to flour, mix in Crisco and enough warm water to make dough. 
    Knead until smooth and elastic. 
    Place dough in a covered bowl and allow to rise 3 to 4 hours or until doubled in bulk. 
  3. Prepare topping while dough is rising 

  4. Cut cheese small using a potato masher. 
    Chop onions fine and add to cheese mixture. 
    Add remaining ingredients and mix well. 
  5. After dough is risen, divide into 4 pieces. 
  6. Roll each piece of dough into a circle 9-10" round, about 1/4" to 3/8" thick.
  7. Allow rounds of dough to relax for 10 minutes. 
  8. Spread cheese topping on dough leaving 1/2" uncovered at edges. 
  9. Bake on greased baking sheet at 500°F until edges are golden brown and cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. 
  10. Cool slightly and serve warm.

Notes
Bender Hootz may be prepared in advance and warmed before serving. Wrap and refrigerate. 
You can substitute Feta cheese for the mixture of cottage and blue cheeses