High Tea Sandwiches

The humble sandwich, a staple around the world, has quite noble beginnings. It is said that in 1762, John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich®,  was playing cards but he did not want to leave the gaming table to eat so he asked for a serving of roast beef between two slices of bread so he was able to eat with his hands.

Delicate finger sandwiches are a customary part of Afternoon Tea and usually have their own dedicated tier on the High Tea stand. To make appetizing, dainty sandwiches the main things to consider are taste, (so not too overpowering), colour, shape, variety, texture, and freshness. My suggestion is to use an assortment of different loaves of bread such as dark rye; multigrain and white bread and a variety of coloured fillings, then cut the sandwiches into ribbon, triangle or round sandwich shapes.

Few people understand a really good sandwich” – James Beard

To keep sandwiches moist whilst making them keep the bread and made ones covered with a slightly damp Tea towel and only take the bread out of the packet as needed so it doesn’t dry out.

Prepare the workspace with all the necessary fillings beforehand so that the sandwiches can be made quickly and covered immediately to keep them moist.
The basic Tea sandwich, no matter the shape desired is made by first preparing the filling and then spooning the filling onto one side of the buttered bread. Close the sandwich and with a sharp serrated knife cut the outer crusts off. Serve on platters.

What fillings make dainty High Tea Sandwiches

The fillings should be not too thick, consider the colours of the filling and the bread so the end result is a combination of colours. For example, red fillings from capsicum, semi-sun-dried tomato or fresh tomato. White from egg, poached chicken or turkey, cream cheese, Brie, feta, mayonnaise, or goat’s cheese. Then salmon and prawn for a soft shade of orange and green from pesto, lettuce, rocket, chives, capers, cucumber or avocado. Darker colours can be found in olive tapenades, roast beef etc. Mix and match the colours with the bread to make a selection. The ideas for fillings are endless and only limited by your imagination don’t forget to garnish the trays or platters at the end.

A man’s social standing is determined by the amount of bread he eats in a sandwich.
F Scott Fitzgerald

Sandwich Ideas
  • Egg, mustard and watercress.
  • Roast beef, horseradish and rocket
  • Turkey, cranberry and Brie.
  • Egg, mayonnaise and chives
  • Plain tomato
  • Ham and Brie
  • Shrimp Salad
  • Smoked salmon, crème fraiche and cucumber.
  • Poached chicken breast, mayonnaise and avocado.
  • Ham, Swiss cheese and apple.
  • Prawn, chives and chilli mayonnaise.

High Tea Sandwich Tips
  • Always source the freshest and very best possible ingredients.
  • Use bread that is fresh, sliced and thin. If you know a baker ask them to slice the bread lengthways so you can make the ribbons more easily.
  • Buy the bread on the day you are going to use it and do not use the end crust pieces for Tea sandwiches.
  • Make 4 to 6 sandwiches per person.
  • Lightly spread the bread with softened butter no matter what the filling is and season with salt and finely ground white pepper.
  • Use a long sharp serrated knife to cut the crusts off once the sandwiches are made.
  • To keep sandwiches delicate cut each sandwich into thirds or quarters or in half diagonally.
  • Don’t make the sandwiches any earlier than is absolutely essential. When sandwiches are not being served immediately wrap them uncut in stacks covered in the fridge. Cut the crusts off just before serving.
  • Do not overfill the sandwiches, as they should be no more than 2 bites in size.

Cucumber Ribbon Sandwiches
  • Fresh sliced bread 1 loaf
  • Lebanese cucumbers
  • 4 Olive oil
    Salt flakes
  • Ground white pepper
    Creme fraiche 2-3 tablespoons
  • Finely snipped fresh chives

Peel cucumbers and slice them lengthwise into ribbons using a mandolin. Rest the slices on the paper towel for about 10 minutes to remove excess moisture.
Lightly brush with olive oil.

Arrange the ribbons on the bread so that they overlap. Sprinkle with salt and white pepper.
Combine Crème Fraiche and finely chopped chives and spread a thin layer on the opposite bread slice.

Keep moist until served.

What is the most wonderful thing for people like myself who follow the Way of Tea? My answer:
The oneness of host and guest created through ‘meeting heart to heart’ and sharing a bowl of Tea.

Soshitsu Sen

Prawns and Dill Ribbon Sandwich

Cooked peeled prawns, 200 grams of Mayonnaise 1/3 cup
Finely chopped dill 2 tablespoons Lemon juice 1 tablespoon

8 slices white bread 8 slices Softened butter 50 grams

Coarsely chop the peeled prawns.
Mix together the prawns, mayonnaise, dill and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in a bowl.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place the bread on a clean board and spread it evenly with butter. Spoon the prawn mixture evenly over half the slices and smooth out. Close the sandwich together with the remaining bread slices.
Use a serrated knife to remove and discard the crusts.
Cut each sandwich into thirds to make finger sandwiches.

Chicken, Pine Nut, Chervil Mayonnaise
  • Finely chopped cooked chicken breast 350 grams
  • Chervil or cress 2 handfuls
    Toasted pine nuts, cooled 120 grams
    A loaf of brown or white bread sliced finely

In a mixing bowl add the finely diced chicken and pine nuts.
Add enough mayonnaise to create an easily spreadable consistency. Scatter the chervil or cress over half of the bread slices.
Put the chicken over the chervil and add another slice of bread and press down lightly.
Trim the crusts off each sandwich and cut them into 3 rectangles.

Facts about sandwiches

Courtesy of justfunfacts.com.

  • An estimated 300 million sandwiches are consumed every day in the US. In Britain, that number is around 31 million.
  • 60% of sandwiches sold globally are actually hamburgers. In fact, if hamburgers are included, sandwiches account for nearly half of all limited-service restaurant sales.
  • The most expensive sandwich ever sold in a restaurant named the Quintessential Grilled Cheese and made by New York restaurant Serendipity 3, sold for US$214. The most expensive sandwich ever sold anywhere – a grilled toast that seemed to have an image of the Virgin Mary on it – sold for US$28,000 on eBay.
  • The Wall Street Journal has described the sandwich as Britain’s “biggest contribution to gastronomy”.
  • The largest sandwich in history weighed 2467.5kg (almost 2.5 tonnes) and was 44cm thick, 3.6m wide and 3.6m long. It contained 68kg of mustard, 468.1kg of corned beef, 117.9kg of cheese, 240.4kg of lettuce and 1,618.4kg of bread.
  • In 2008, an attempt in Iran to beat the record for the world’s biggest sandwich failed when the impatient crowd started eating the sandwich before it was measured.
  • The longest sandwich in history measured 735m.
  • The most layers in a sandwich are 60 and was achieved by DiLusso Deli Company in New York City in October 2016.
  • Hawaii used to be called ‘The Sandwich Islands’, named by Captain James Cook in honour of John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich.
  • The verb ‘to sandwich’ is 200 years old and was first used in 1815 to mean ‘to have a light meal’.