No need to knead • 06.26.09
A few years back we took an Italian cooking class. The class met once a week after work in a local junior high school. After hours the school was quiet and sort of creepily empty. Our little classroom was a warm pool of light in the otherwise darkened school halls.
We would all divide up, cook different parts of the menu and then enjoy the meal together at the end of class. Some people would bring bottles of wine to share and we would listen to a CD of opera while we ate. It was good fun and I learned a lot. One of the most memorable things I learned was how to knead.
I know, it’s so basic, but I had never kneaded anything until this class. I was afraid to make my own pasta and the idea of anything requiring yeast and rising time scared the pants off of me.
Our Italian cooking class taught me that it’s really not hard to knead things. In fact, it can be therapeutic and quietly enjoyable to get your hands busy in piles of wet ingredients, working out any stresses on a smooth ball of dough. I enjoyed it!
But the thing is, I don’t always want to knead. Despite the undeniable tactile benefits of kneading dough, there are times when you just don’t want to get involved in that process. Maybe you don’t have time. Maybe you just got a manicure and don’t want to get your hands dirty (what??) Maybe you just don’t want to clean off the inevitable bits of dough and flour that seem to cement themselves to your counter tops as you knead (don’t tell me that I’m the only one this happens to??)
With this bread, there is no need to knead. The bread is fast to assemble and smells amazing while it’s in the oven. It won’t rise as high as bread made with yeast and kneaded properly, but the flavour is so savoury and hearty, you won’t miss the loft. Plus, this bread combines four of my favourite things: almonds, olives, cheese and clean counter tops.
Quick almond, olive and buttermilk bread
(adapted from Delicious magazine)
Makes one loaf
1/2 cup (60g) grated strong cheese (I used mature Devon, but a strong cheddar would be great)
120g slivered almonds, toasted, plus extra for the top
2 tsp finely chopped rosemary, plus extra for topping
1 1/4 cup (310ml) buttermilk*