Off with the their crusts! Classic Finger Sandwiches
The hardest thing about making Finger Sandwiches is cutting them without squishing the filling out.
I’ve found the key is to put your bread in the freezer beforehand. This makes them a bit more rigid, and as bread thaws rather quickly, they’ll still be ready for their debut when when tea time arrives.
Now, I don’t claim to be an expert finger sandwich-maker. My sandwiches, scones and sweets won’t make Claridge’s best dressed tea curate* – yet. But Afternoon Tea is a passion of mine, and someday I would love to be able to present with the standards of a London 5-Star hotel.
*A curate is another name for the tiered cake stand
I have several Afternoon Tea books from which to draw finger sandwich recipes. Tea at Fortnum & Mason has a limited but classic selection and it’s the one I chose to use. I made their Egg & Cress Sandwich, Smoked Salmon and Herb Creme Fraiche sandwich and then added a Roast Beef and White Cheddar for my husband, who was sharing in today’s repast (this recipe was not in the book).
Improvising is fairly easy to do with finger sandwiches. Though something to strive for is the ‘layered’ look, with each element providing color. In the finger sandwiches I made above, I can see that I should have added a slightly thicker layer of cress on the Egg Salad, and a bit more Creme Fraiche to the Salmon, to give each section more distinct stripes.
I trim my finger sandwiches into thin strips, but you can also do cross cut triangles. When I’ve been out for Afternoon Tea, the best looking have an even cut. If you make half on white bread and half on wheat, you get a more interesting plate.
Note to self and others: Getting the sandwiches exactly equal in size is a bit harder than you would think.
Tips on Making Finger Sandwiches
- Freeze the bread before assembling, even a bit frozen helps with easy trimming
- Don’t overfill sandwiches, you don’t want them squeezing out the sides
- Trim the crusts off
- Use both brown and white bread for visual interest
- These are meant to be eaten in about 3 bites, so keep relatively small
- Use softened butter
- Cut length-wise or cross cut as triangles
- Try to get sandwiches as evenly sized as possible
- Use a serrated knife, and saw lightly as you hold the sandwich down gently
- If your filling pops out a bit, take a butter knife and smooth the edges back in
- If you want to make these a head of time, you can keep them in the fridge, covered in plastic wrap. Some people put a damp tea towel over them to keep them moist.
Finger Sandwich Ideas
- Chicken Salad with Tarragon
- Egg with Cress
- Smoked Salmon with Creme Fraiche or Cream Cheese and Herbs
- Fig and Prosciutto
- Stilton and Pear
- Roast Beef and White Cheddar
- Cucumber with Butter or Cream Cheese
- On an oblong platter with sandwiches alternated between those made with white bread, then brown bread
- Placed on a tiered caddy, usually on the bottom tier
- On a round plate, with sandwiches on their sides, and radiating out like spokes
- Or…be creative and come up with your delicious plating
Tea at Fortum and Mason, by Emma Marsden
Afternoon Tea, by Susannah Blake
Afternoon Tea Parties, by Susannah Blake
The Afternoon Tea Collection, by Pamela Clark
Interested in Afternoon Tea? You might like the post, The History of Afternoon Tea