Thursday, 14 July 2011

Upon Cucumber Sandwiches, for Dinah

Yesterday I turned 6 loaves of bread into sandwiches- half became cream cheese and walnut, and the other half became cucumber sandwiches. Now a cucumber sandwich is quintessentially English, and very delicious too. I have had cucumber sandwiches at home, at our wedding, at The Ritz, and Claridges. You would never think that such a delicate little morsel could be the cause of shredded nerves, but oh, it can be.

You see, the thing with cucumber sandwiches is that they are best eaten as soon as possible after making, so they don't go soggy. Which in normal circumstances is fine, you can either make them and then eat them, or if you are making a packed lunch to take to work then if they do go a little bit soggy then at least it is only you eating them! Imagine my dilemma yesterday, when I had 30-40 guests arriving at work for a retirement tea party at 12, but at 10.20 I had to be two villages over doing a school assembly, and wouldn't be back till 11.30. Did I make the sandwiches at 8.30am and risk soggy cucumber syndrome, or did I try and make them at 11.30 and risk not having them done in time?

So I asked some friends. The man replied that I should do them in the morning, it would be easier for me, and besides, people expect cucumber sandwiches to be slightly soggy! Amusing, but not convincing. But the lovely Wendy suggested that I make up the sandwiches by buttering the bread, and then slip the cucumber in at the last minute. So that is what I did. Only, to make things even easier, I sliced the cucumber in the morning, so at 11.30 I just had to fill and cut the sandwiches...and it worked like a charm!

For cucumber sandwiches, for me at least, the bread must be white. But brown or white, it must, must be as thinly cut as you can manage. Then a light spread of butter, taken up to the edges please, and a single layer of slightly overlapping slices of cucumber. I like to cut mine on a mandolin as you can get them ever so thin then. Then press down on top the other slice of buttered bread, cut off the crusts, and cut into your choice of fingers, squares or triangles. You should get 4 of whichever shape you have chosen, so they are quite tiny. You will also end up with a bag of crusts to go and feed the ducks with!

There is a variation on this of which I am rather fond. For this one I prefer brown bread, and I leave the crusts on, but you do whatever you like best. Instead of buttering the bread, I use a thin spreading of cream cheese (like Philadelphia), a layer of cucumber, and then some torn mint leaves scattered across before topping with the other slice of bread. Delicious!

I came across our wedding menu on my computer earlier.

Afternoon Tea Menu

In celebration of the marriage of

Carl and Naomi Claxton

Saturday 11th August 2011


Afternoon Tea Sandwiches

Egg mayonnaise with cress, ham, grated cheddar, cucumber, cream cheese with chives, smoked salmon, chicken with tarragon


Freshly Baked Scones

with cream and jam


A Selection of Tea Pastries


Selected Teas


Earl Grey

English Breakfast


Wedding Cake

Moist Cranberry and Cointreau Fruit Cake

Madeira Cake Delicately Flavoured with Lemon

We served pink champagne for the toasts. I remember there being concerns within our family that people would still be hungry, and there was a campaign to have bottles of wine on the tables too...but I am glad we went our own way. Everybody was full to the brim, and so much tea was drunk that wine really was not needed. The room was beautiful, all the tables laid with mismatched vintage china, and we printed our menus onto card, and I found a craft punch in teh shape of a tea cup that we used to decorate them with. Such happy memories!


Dinahsoar said...

Thank you SO much for sharing how you make your tea sandwiches. Now I am sure I know how to make the real deal.

And your wedding menu--I love it, and think you were smart to stick with what you really wanted.

On your wedding day, everything should be tailored to make the day special for you I think--and not he guests ...or even your mother. The guests are invited to share in the occasion and I do not think it should be tailored for their benefit. So many people feel they must do it a certain way and if they don't that it is wrong and such--but how can there be a wrong way to celebrate such an important day. If it means less to you, then it is meaningless-- isn't it? If getting married on the beach in bare feet with a handful of wildflowers is your dream wedding, then I say do it. It is your day. And if I am lucky enough to be invited it is enough for me.

I am still behind in my reading and will catch up with the rest of your posts soon. Why?? CROCHET. I finally got my yarn and hook and have been practicing to gear up for making my apple cozy. It's a good thing my dear friend in NC is an excellent needle worker--she told me the UK terms differ from the US terms. LOL. Who knows what I'd have ended up with had she not informed me?

In time I will get my apple cozy done--for practice I have been crocheting flowers...and I love them!!

And when I saw the cloth strawberries on the cover of MM I decided I must make those too!!

Also--I found a British blog via another blog I frequent that has some fun sewing posts. It is Junkaholique--the blog posts on sewing...I love her--Artemis--style. The fabric shoe laces she stitched up are so fun. I think I must make some of them too. And the fabric mouse on a pole she made for her cat Plimsol--sooo cute...oh--she made some really neat Christmas crackers too.

Again--thanks for sharing!!

Nita in South Carolina said...

My daughter (almost 15) loves cucumber sandwiches - sometimes she makes them for her school lunch.