Merriam-Webster defines a sandwich as “two or more slices of bread or a split roll having a filling in between.”
A simple definition of a perfectly good meal, and with a quick flick of the knife, you can have something really special.
A tea sandwich aspires to be a bit more than serviceable sustenance. It aspires to delight the eye as well as the palate.
Because tea sandwiches are one of the ultimate finger foods, eating them should never be a chore. You should be able to pick them up easily, and the route from plate to lips shouldn’t leave a trail of filling across the floor or lap.
A few tips:
- Ideally, you’d be working with an intact loaf that can be sliced as thin as you like. If you do bake your own bread, do so in advance and refrigerate the loaf before slicing. Fresh baked warm bread will tear too easily, and make thin slices difficult.
- Don’t stress about bread. Store bought loaves are great. Pepperidge Farm makes a Very Thin white and wheat bread. Other store bought loaves will be thick so…
- Don’t skimp on the filling. Because a tea sandwich is typically a delicate thing, people tend to put no more than a hint of filling between the bread. Your guests should be able to see and taste the filling, otherwise everyone is simply eating a lot of bread.
- Have fun with other types of bread. Mini croissants, tiny hot dog buns, tortillas and flat bread make your presentation more interesting.
- Salt and drain your veggies. Any filling that contains vegetables should be salted for 30 minutes and adequately drained/toweled dry. Soggy sandwiches aren’t appealing.
- Moist fillings are easier than dry. Compound butters and cream cheeses make good glue to hold slices of meat or veg in place. Fillings like egg and chicken salad will stick to the bread better than sliced turkey. If you do use sliced meats, cheeses and veg with the only thing holding them together on the inside of the bread, don’t make the sandwich too thick as the filling will likely fall out.
- Fill your sandwiches before cutting off the crusts, otherwise your filling won’t come to the edges and the sandwiches will look empty.
- The preparation of tea sandwiches can be time consuming. I don’t recommend it right before the party, or even the morning of. They can easily be made the day before and kept in air-tight containers covered with a damp paper towel. I’ve found this method keeps the bread from drying once they’re plated as well.
- If you’re like me, you don’t like to waste anything, and the sight of mountains of bread crusts in the bin will bother you. A lot of the excess bread can be pulverized in a food processor and used as crumbs, or perhaps frozen and used for bread pudding.