Lovely as cakes are, you can’t have a tea party without a savoury element to begin with, including some delicate little sandwiches: “Sandwiches before cake,” as my mum used to say and I know Miss Windsor agrees wholeheartedly with this sentiment!
Here are some sandwich suggestions to start you off: several based around cucumber (essential for keeping your cool in summer) and some tips for the perfect egg mayonnaise filling.
Don’t forget to cut the crusts off all your sandwiches and cut into dainty fingers or triangles.
They are called finger sandwiches, by the way, as you eat them with your fingers.
Cucumber sandwiches are the classic afternoon tea sandwich. Prepare the cucumber in the traditional way by peeling it and cutting it into wafer thin slices. Lay the slices on a double thickness of kitchen paper and sprinkle lightly with salt – a light grinding of Maldon salt is perfect. Lay a couple more layers of kitchen paper on top and leave for 10-20 minutes. This draws out excess moisture from the cucumber and deepens the flavour.
Sprinkle the cucumber lightly with ground white pepper and sandwich between thin slices of premium quality white bread, spread with a softened creamy unsalted butter to balance the cool, salted cucumber. Remove crusts and cut sandwiches into dainty triangles.
Cucumber and Cress
Prepare this Victorian favourite as above but turn up the heat with some peppery snipped mustard cress.
Cucumber and Soft Cheese
Prepare cucumber as before, spread thinly-cut brown or white bread with a thin layer of unsalted butter and a more lavish one of soft cheese. Scatter with freshly ground black pepper and lay cucumber over.
Cucumber and Cheese Mayonnaise in Malted Granary Bread
This is so delicious: I’d say it was my own invention but someone else somewhere is bound to have thought of it too! Using 2 dinner forks, combine mature grated cheese with enough mayonnaise to bind and season with cayenne pepper. Sandwich between malted brown bread and include cucumber as before.
The Perfect Egg Mayonnaise
The classic egg mayonnaise sandwich is always popular.
Here are a few tips for the best ones ever.
Don’t go too mad with the filling as an overstuffed egg sandwich can be disastrous for garden party clothes and tablecloths.
You might find it easier to mash and mix the eggs on a board rather than in a dish: you can get a better angle with the fork on a board and it’s a lot simpler.
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