Friday, August 10, 2012

Ribbon Party Loaves

If you are looking for a chilled, Summery sandwich to serve for your bridge club, book club  or afternoon tea, you might want to try your hand at these.  By 'these' I mean Ribbon Party Loaves.  They are like an iced layer cake except savory.

Bread instead of cake; savory fillings and a cream cheese icing instead of buttercream.

I first told you about these here.  I know, I know, I said I'd show these to you in the "near" future.  It took me several months, but here we are.


I became very nervous about making these.  It's been decades since I've made them.  We used to make around six a day.  And let me tell ya, Tyra and I could whip these babies out in a snap.


Prepare all of the fillings that you will be using.  You will have two fillings per loaf.  Some of the combinations we made in the tea room were chicken salad/egg salad, chicken salad/ham salad, and ham salad/pimiento cheese.

You can use your favorite recipes for your fillings.  I make mine very simple.  The egg salad is made with Hellman's and celery salt.  The chicken salad has diced celery in it and the ham salad has diced sweet pickle in it.  For the pimiento cheese, I purchase that.  Central Market has a great pimiento cheese in the bulk deli section.

The consistency of the fillings should not be runny; you don't want them glopping out the sides of your loaf.  Refrigerate them until it's time to assemble the loaf.


You can prepare your own white bread recipe or purchase an unsliced loaf at your local bakery.  This recipe makes a good loaf for this sandwhich.  Use a serrated knife to slice off the crust from all surfaces of the loaf. 


When you slice the loaf horizontally, make them between 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thick.  You can use the domed top of the loaf as the top of one of your sandwiches.  I wanted my loaves to have a flat top so I saved the dome to make bread crumbs.  You'll need three slices per loaf.  Depending upon the height of your loaf you may get four.

These tips on slicing the bread will be helpful:
  • have two tea towels ready, one to place the slices on and one to keep them covered
  • as you make your horizontal slices, be sure to stack them on the tea towel in the same order as they came from the loaf (bottom on bottom, etc.)
  • if you are only making one loaf, freeze any extra slices you end up with; you need three slices out of the loaf
  • When you trim the crust from the loaf try to trim it as thin as possible.  You don't want a lot of crust left on the bread but you don't want to cut off too much of your bread either.
  • Some loaf pans will produce a loaf with sides that slant slightly.  When you trip off the crust, straighten those out as much as you can so the sides are more perpendicular than slanted.


I assembled both of my loaves on a large cutting board.  You can also use a jelly roll pan turned upside down.  If you are making more than one loaf and assembling them on the same board/pan,  make sure you have enough room between the loaves to ice them comfortably.  I could have given myself a little more room between two I made on this board.


 For this loaf I placed one slice of bread for the bottom and topped it with chicken salad.  In this case I put the chicken salad as the bottom layer because it was the heavier of the two fillings.  Make the thickness of the filling layers as close to the same thickness as the bread layers.

Place the middle layer of bread on top of the bottom filling and spread your second filling on top of it; in this case it is the egg salad.  Finally, top with the top layer of bread.   With a small rubber spatula, gently go around the sides of the loaf the "pat" the fillings in if they are oozing out a bit.  This will also tidy up your loaf.

Cover the loaf with a tea towel as you assemble another loaf and/or make your cream cheese icing.


Here is my second loaf of ham salad and pimiento cheese.



The "icing" is very simple.  To make sure I have enough, I use about 12 ounces of softened cream cheese per loaf.

Whip the cream cheese until smooth then add milk, one teaspoon at a time until you have a nice spreading consistency.


The only seasoning I use is this.  Use sparingly and taste so you don't get it too salty.


Sorry I don't have any photos of the loaves being iced.  But it's not rocket science.  Do it just as you would a layer cake; sides first then the top.  You want the bread and fillings completely covered.


Sprinkle the tops with a little dried or fresh parsley.  If using fresh, be sure to have it completely dry.  Place the loaves in the refrigerator for several hours to firm-up the cream cheese.  Once the cream cheese is firm you can lightly drape a tea towel over the loaves until serving.

When ready to serve, use a serrated knife and use a gentle sawing motion to slice.  Don't slice by pressing down.

You can transfer the loaves to a serving platter if you like once they are firmed up.  Be sure to use a heavy-duty long spatula that will hold up to the weight.

Place your slice on a plate and serve with a small tossed salad or a cup of soup.



Ribbon Party Loaf
(These instructions are for 1 loaf)
Serves 6 to 8, depending on the length of the loaf

Ingredients:
1 loaf homemade or bakery-made white bread, unsliced (not commercial sandwich bread)
approximately 1 to 1-1/2 cup each of two different fillings (chicken salad, egg salad, ham salad, pimiento cheese, etc.)
12 ounces cream cheese
milk, a teaspoon at a time
Lawry’s garlic salt, to taste
Dried or fresh parsley
Mise en place:
  • set cream cheese out to soften
  • prepare your fillings, cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble
  • trim all the crust from the loaf of bread
  • slice the loaf of bread horizontally (1/2 to 3/4-inch thick) and place on tea towel then keep covered with another tea towel
Method:
Assemble sandwich loaf:  (I'm going to give instructions for a chicken salad / egg salad loaf)

Place the bottom slice of bread on a chopping board or an overturned jellyroll pan.  Spread the chicken salad on the bread slice using a small rubber spatula to smooth the top and sides.  Try to make the layer of chicken salad as close to the thickness of the bread as possible.

Gently lay the middle slice of bread on top of the chicken salad.  Press just enough to make it firmly sit on the chicken salad, but not so much that the chicken salad starts spreading over the sides.  Spread the egg salad on the bread slice, smoothing as you did the chicken salad layer.

Gently lay the top layer of bread on the egg salad.  Press just enough to make it firmly sit on the egg salad, but not so much that the egg salad starts spreading over the sides.

With a small spatula, work around the loaf and press any fillings in so that the fillings and even with the edges of the bread.

Make Cream Cheese Icing:

In mixing bowl, using a stand mixer or hand mixer, whip the cream cheese until it is nice and smooth.  Add 1 tsp of milk and whip.  Add more milk, a tsp at a time, until your cream cheese is a nice spreading consistency.  Sprinkle with garlic salt, to taste, and mix in well.

Icing the Loaf:

Apply about 1/4-inch thickness of the icing.  You want to create a stable "case" for the loaf.  Using a palette knife (frosting spatula), apply cream cheese icing to the sides of the loaf.  Work each side from bottom to top and keep the loaf steady by placing your left hand on the top of the loaf as you spread the icing.  Spread icing on the top of the loaf as you would a cake.  Sprinkle parsley on top.

Place the loaf in the refrigerator for several hours to firm up.  Once the cream cheese has firmed a bit, you can lightly drape a tea towel over the loaf.

To Serve:

Use a large, serrated knife and slice using a back and forth sawing motion.

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