My assessment ritual with new loaves (I only do SD) is as follows:
1. When the 2 hour cooling period is up, I slice an end off, spread it with a little unsalted butter, and share it with my partner. Exchange oohs and aahs (when appropriate).
2. Cut the first slice proper, assess the 'nose', have a prolonged gawp at the crumb and give it a prod, take a pic or 10 if it's nice and open, smear slice with butter - and put it to the taste test. I know purists like to taste bread unadulterated, but for me, the ultimate sample is of a generous slice thinly buttered. I also love to spread a slice from a freshly baked bread with butter and honey, but not until later.
3. Next comes an open sandwich. And here's where I'm particularly interested in toppings others like. My favourites:
- Good quality shaved ham off the bone on thickish slice of bread spread with butter, mayo (home-made obviously best, but much of the time I settle for the convenience of a decent commercial brand like S&W), aioli or a good mustard (Dijon or hot English). I usually add some rocket (aragula) from the garden or lettuce of some type.
- Chicken - preferably the grey parts - sliced off the remains of last night's roast and mixed with mayo, ground white pepper and a sprinkle of quality paprika, with thinly spread butter and rocket or lettuce. Sometimes, also, I like to have chicken with cranberry sauce on buttered bread.
- Egg mixed with mayo, fresh ground white pepper and a hint of paprika, and sometimes with a little pickled gerkin chopped in, spread on buttered bread - again with rocket or lettuce.
- Egg mixed as above + asparagus on buttered bread.
- I did try a variation of bánh mì, using the usual Vietnamese toppings but on a thick slice of SD bread, rather than enclosed in a white Vietnamese baguette - nice, but not a keeper. The traditional way is better.
- For bread more than a day old, my absolute favourite is open toasties with butter, mayo, ham, cheese and sliced red onion, with fresh ground black pepper + sprinkles of paprika and cayenne pepper. Basically, a variation on a croque monsieur.
- Love bruschetta, but only when good tomatoes are available (much of the time the supermarket tomatoes are tasteless in this part of the world)
- Sardines on buttered toast with a bit of tomato sauce smeared over + fresh ground pepper is always yum.
- Of course, I like all the usual spreads on toast - marmalade, peanut butter, Vegemite (yeah, I know, I know - it's a downunder thang), jam...but that goes without saying.
I'm getting a bit jaded with my usual lunch toppings, especially the ham. So, looking for inspiration from others - would love to hear from you re your favourite toppings!
Best of baking!