Summer is finally here and I love sandwiches in the summer. They can go anywhere. On a hike…to watch jazz in the park…by the pool…on a road trip…so many places. It’s the portability! I love portable food.
Not to mention the versatility of sandwiches. You can combine any flavor, food and combination into a sandwich. You don’t even need bread, just sandwich one ingredient between slices of another and you have a sandwich. Although my disclaimer here is that I love my sandwiches made with bread.
The bread is key to making a great sandwich. It must be good quality and match the ingredients you plan on using. If the bread doesn’t match the rest of the flavors in both texture and flavor, it can just ruin a great sandwich. And while I generally hate cheap mass-produced store brought bread, occasionally it has a place as well in the world of sandwiches, even if it is the rare occasion.
While the bread is extremely important, so are the ingredients used to build the sandwich. High quality is always key. Avoid those pre-packaged meats in the grocery store, always get fresh sliced and buy the best you can afford. Or make up a beautiful roast beef or chicken at home to use. Even homemade meatloaf makes great sandwiches. And never forget fresh beautifully crisp veggies and fruits. Yes, I said fruits! Apple or pear slices always have a place on a sandwich. Or strawberries in chicken salad. There are so many options.
Finally, if you’re using cheese, once again remember to get the best quality you can. Forget the mass-produced stuff that is questionably not cheese and go for the real stuff, loaded with fat and yummy flavor. The stronger the flavored cheese, the less of it you need. Think blue cheese, smoked gouda or anything beautifully aged.
And my hubby would like me to let you in on the secret to building the perfect sandwich so I guess that I will share. It’s how you layer the ingredients on the sandwich. Yes, there is an art to it. Certain flavors pair together better than others, while others enhance the flavor of another. Think about those pairings and enhancements when you’re stacking the sandwich and stack accordingly and you’ll have the best sandwich ever.
And while I am extolling the virtues of the sandwich in this lovely posting, it’s really about the bread. I’m sharing a beautiful recipe for Honey Wheat Bread from Kitchen Joy. It’s a perfectly wonderful bread for making sandwiches or just eating slightly warm with a little butter. And while it is time-consuming, it was very easy to make. The time-consuming part was just waiting for the rising, so plan to get some housework done or something else around the house and don’t miss out on making this one just in time for your 4th of July celebrations.
Honey Wheat Bread
3 cups warm water (105° F)
4.5 tsp. active dry yeast
1/3 cup honey
5 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 Tbsp. salt
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour, plus extra for kneading
To create the starter, place yeast in an extra-large bowl with honey. Mix well to combine before adding water. Stir in the flour, cover with a cloth, set in a warm place and allow the starter to rise for about 30 minutes or until more than doubled and bubbly.
Combine the butter, honey and salt in a small bowl and mix into the finished starter before mixing in two cups of the wheat flour. Turn the dough out on a well floured surface (use whole wheat for the flouring) and knead until you get a smooth and slightly tacky dough.
Place the finished dough into a large bowl (make sure the bowl is large enough to handle the dough in doubled form, I had to use two bowls to hold it all. Just divide the dough using a knife if you need to divide, to avoid harming the glutton strands.) Allow the dough to rise until doubled, about one hour.
After the dough has risen, punch dough down and divide into three pieces to make loaves, once again cutting the dough with a knife rather than tearing it. Oil or butter three loaf pans and roll dough into log forms, pinching the bottom together. Place in the prepared loaf pans and allow the dough to rise again until about 1″ above the top of the pans, about an hour.
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Gently cut a slit in the top of each loaf, without collapsing dough, if desired and then bake the loaves until golden brown and you hear a hollow sound when you knock on the top of the loaf, about 25-35 minutes.
Remove the loaves from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for at least 10 minutes before removing to finish cooling. Brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter if desired.
Yield: 3 loaves
More wonderful bread recipes for sandwich making fun: