Sunday, 12 June 2011

Old-Fashioned Pinwheel Sandwiches with Smoked Salmon, Crème Fraîche & Horseradish

A splendid way to stretch a small amount of top-quality smoked salmon or trout between many people. I'm a devoted fan of delicate old-fashioned sandwiches - read my thoughts about the art of making dainty sandwiches here - and I think it's high time we turfed those gut-busting ciabatta extravaganzas, with their marinated peppers and slices of Parma ham, into the bin and turned our attention to the little tongue-whisperers Grandma used to make.

The biggest problem you might encounter when making these sandwiches is finding a whole - that is, unsliced - loaf of bread from which to make them. I visited three large supermarkets and two well-stocked garage convenience stores on the day I wanted to make these, and couldn't find a single whole loaf of anything remotely square on the outside and soft-'n-fluffy within. Every single run-of-the-mill white or brown loaf on every shelf was pre-sliced and swaddled in plastic, and all the other whole breads were either the wrong shape, or stuffed to the gunwhales with sundried tomatoes, onions, olives, artichokes, cheese, small furry kittens, and so on.

Eventually I turned to the all-knowing Twitter, which advised me to try my local 7/11 store. I did, and there I found square loaves of ordinary white and brown bread, unplasticked, unsliced, and emitting innocent little puffs of warm, yeasty steam.

I felt like falling to my knees. (And I had a twinge of sadness that my kids will probably never experience the delight of hollowing out a loaf of warm 'Government' bread.  I can still feel the stab of pain in my larynx as I swallowed those giant squished-up nuggets of doughy bread, which we kids rolled in white sugar before we crammed them into our mouths.  This was not allowed, of course, but we did it anyway, just as we nicked condensed milk off the pantry shelf and glugged it deliriously, straight from the tin.)

Cutting a good, straight, evenly thick horizontal slice from a loaf takes some practice. If your bread is hot, allow it to cool completely. If possible, use a loaf of day-old bread, which will be easier to slice. Use a very sharp serrated knife, and quick, light sawing motions.

Use horseradish sparingly, as it's a very strong flavour.  I love these sandwiches with dill, but you can leave it out if you're not a fan. Parsley or very finely snipped chives are good substitutes.

Old-Fashioned Pinwheel Sandwiches with Smoked Salmon, Crème Fraîche & Horseradish 

an unsliced square loaf of fresh white or brown bread
softened butter
a pack of  smoked salmon, or Franschhoek trout
a tub of crème fraîche
a little freshly grated horseradish, or some creamed horseradish sauce
the finely grated zest of a lemon
finely chopped fresh dill (or parsley or chives; see my notes above)
salt and freshly milled black pepper

Place the loaf of bread on a board or countertop. Using a very sharp serrated knife, cut off the entire top crust of the loaf. Now cut the bread, horizontally - that is, lengthways -  into even slices about 7 mm thick. It's easiest to do this if you place your palm firmly on the top of the loaf of bread and cut from right to left (or the other way, if you're left-handed), using very quick but gentle and incremental sawing motions. Take your time about this, and stop every now and then to inspect the far side of the loaf to make sure you're cutting an even slice. Lay each slice on a chopping board and cover the lot with a clean tea towel.

Old-Fashioned Pinwheel Sandwiches with Smoked Salmon, Crème Fraîche & HorseradishIn a small bowl, beat the crème fraîche until quite smooth. Stir in the horseradish or horseradish cream sauce (to taste), and the lemon zest. Season with a little salt and black pepper.

Put a large piece of clingfilm on your countertop.  Take the first slice of bread and place it on top of the clingfilm. Spread lightly with the softened butter and cover with a single layer of smoked salmon. Thinly spread a little of the crème fraîche mixture over the top of the salmon. Sprinkle with the finely chopped dill.  Grind over a little more black pepper.

Now turn the bread slice so that its thinnest end is facing you. Pick up the edge of the clingfilm and, holding it firmly with two hands, use it to coax the slice into a roll, as you would if you were rolling sushi. Roll the slice up neatly and firmly (but without squashing the bread). Twist the ends of the clingfilm to make a loose cylindrical 'Christmas cracker' and place the parcel in the fridge. Repeat this process with the remaining slices.

Chill the rolls for 10 minutes (or for up to 25  minutes; any longer than that and they'll stiffen).  Now, using an exceedingly sharp knife, cut each roll, straight through the plastic, into five or six thin slices.  Peel away the plastic and arrange the sandwiches on plates. If you're aiming for authenticity, put them on a bed of very finely shredded iceberg lettuce.

Serve immediately.

Makes about 30 pinwheel sandwiches.
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8 comments:

Peter M said...

These are the most perfect pinwheel sandwiches I've ever seen! I must try my hand at your method, thank you!

Jane-Anne said...

Thank you for your comment, Peter.

Linda Harding said...

SO beautiful! And reminds me of when we were little, we'd go on roadtrips and my parents would always buy a fresh loaf of bread for my brother and I to pick apart and devour in the back seat... In those days, finding pre-sliced bread was the mission!

Anonymous said...

Where do I find Creme Fraiche in Johannesburg? or what substitute can be used?

Jane-Anne said...

Hi Anonymous. Creme fraiche is available at Woolies and at most supermarkets under the Lancewood brand name. If you can't find it, use sour cream, or a mixture of sour cream and cream cheese. Good luck!

Marisa said...

I do so love (and okay, envy) your writing style - you have an amazing gift!

Anonymous said...

Is there any way to do these ahead? I'm having a morning board meeting and wanted to make these for that.

Jane-Anne said...

Hi Anon! Yes, you can make these four to five hours ahead of time. Cover them with a light layer of shredded iceberg lettuce (which will stop them from drying out) and keep them in a lidded plastic container in a cool place.

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