When I started blogging, I made it a point to cover some tea recipes that weren’t the most traditional. Many assumed that since I had a tea food blog, finger sandwich recipes would be in plenty. For the most part, I chose to hold off on tea sandwiches for a while, just until I could give you the perfect tea sandwich bread recipe to get things rolling.
This Tea Sandwich Loaf recipe is adapted from Nancy Silverton and Teri Gelber’s incredible cookbook, Nancy Silverton’s Sandwich Book. The bread made from this recipe yields the soft, tender, tight-crumbed bread that we’ve come to associate with a scrumptious tea sandwich. After all, a tea sandwich can only be as delicious as the bread is.
There are many wonderful things about making tea sandwich bread at home. First (and most obviously), nothing beats a golden loaf of bread baking in your oven. In the fall and wintertime, the ambient heat from the oven is especially cozy, while the scent of fresh bread instantly makes any place smell like home.
Another less obvious benefit to making tea sandwich bread yourself is that it’s much more versatile than than your standard grocery market loaf. Since it isn’t pre-sliced and has squared edges, you are free to experiment with all kinds of shapes and sizes–a serrated knife or cookie cutter and you are on your way to making some gorgeous tea time delicacies. Thick, thin, rolled, or cubed–the possibilities are endless!
Personally, I love to cut off the crust on this loaf and then slice it thin, lengthwise. By cutting the loaf this way, you’ll be able to make the most of your fillings, where each nibble will have a better (and more equal) filling-to-bread ratio. This is especially great since afternoon tea is such a carb-heavy meal.
In my family, I’m a crustless kind of gal, while my mom loves the crisp, golden edges on a fresh loaf. The crust on this bread is like the crust on a rustic French bread. You can’t go wrong with a dab of European butter or jam. Above all, the trick here is to not slice (or eat) the bread until it has cooled completely…take my word for it, you might want to make two loaves just in case!
Looking for an elegant tea to enjoy with a slice of this delicious bread? My suggestion is a decadent vanilla bean Darjeeling blend called I’ll Take You There…a tea blended by the co-author of Nancy Silverton’s Sandwich Book, my friend Teri Gelber!
Tea Sandwich Bread
Makes 1 large loaf.
1 1/3 cups lukewarm water
2 1/4 tsp SAF instant yeast
3 3/4 cups + 1 Tbsp bread flour
1 Tbsp powdered nonfat milk
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 Tbsp melted butter or non-stick spray, for coating bowl and pan
large stand mixer with dough hook attachment
pullman loaf pan (13″ or 12 cup capacity)
serrated bread knife (if slicing)
cooking thermometer (optional)
bread slicer (optional)
1.) Make the Dough. Place the yeast, bread flour, powdered milk, and sugar in the mixing bowl of a large stand mixer. Turn the mixer on low-speed, then add the water. Increase the speed to medium, then mix for 2 minutes. After two minutes, turn off the mixer and then add the salt. Turn the mixer on low again to incorporate the salt, then increase the mixer to medium speed once again. Add the softened butter, 1 Tbsp at a time, then continue to mix the dough for about 10 minutes. When you add the butter, the dough will make a slapping sound against the side of the mixing bowl like when you make a brioche dough.
2.) First Rise. After 10 minutes you should get a soft and supple ball of dough. Place the dough in a bowl lightly greased with melted butter or nonstick spray. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then place in a warm, draft free place to rise until doubled in volume.
3.) Shape the Loaf. After doubling in volume, place the dough on a work surface, then give the dough a few light kneadings. Lightly pull/press the dough to make an evenly thick 8″ x 11″ rectangle (like a piece of paper). Fold the left and right sides over lengthwise to meet in the middle (the sides should overlap). Square off the edges, then pinch the seam closed. Tuck, pinch, and seal off the ends under the long loaf.
4.) Second Rise. Place the cylinder-like loaf seam side down, into a pullman pan greased with melted butter or nonstick spray. Let the dough rest in the pan for about 5 minutes (covered with plastic wrap), then use your fingers to press the dough into the pan as evenly as possible–this will help to assure squared off edges on the loaf when it bakes. Cover the loaf pan with plastic wrap, then place in a warm, draft free place until it rises to 1/2″ under the top edge of the pan.
5.) Bake, Cool, and Slice! About a half hour before the loaf has finished rising, place an oven rack in the lower 1/3 portion of your oven, then heat the oven to 475 degrees F. When the dough has risen (1/2″ under the rim), slide the greased top of the pullman loaf pan on. Bake the loaf for about 45 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown or registers an internal temperature of 190 degrees F on a cooking thermometer. Wait until the bread completely cools before slicing with a serrated knife.
Adapted from Tea Sandwich Loaf recipe in Nancy Silverton’s Sandwich Book by Nancy Silverton and Teri Gelber.