When working for Petrokazakhstan, I used to frequently stay at the Castle Hotel in Windsor, near the company headquarters and practically across the street from Windsor Castle. A very traditional, cozy English establishment, they of course served Five O'clock Tea with, among other things, traditional cucumber finger-sandwiches.
Traditional English cucumber sandwiches consist of paper-thin slices of cucumber placed between two thin slices of soft, crustless, lightly buttered, white toast bread. The thinness of the bread and of the cucumber slices is a matter of pride. Daylight should pass through the bread slices, and a newspaper-column heading should be legible through the cucumber slices. The peel of the cucumber is either removed or scored lengthwise with a fork before the cucumber is sliced, and the slices are dried gently with a paper towel before use. The slices of bread are carefully buttered all the way to the edges in the thinnest coating, which is only applied to protect the bread from becoming damp with cucumber juice. The slices of cucumber are dashed with salt and lemon juice, then placed in the sandwich just before serving in order to prevent the sandwich from becoming damp. The crusts of the bread are cut away cleanly and the sandwich sliced diagonally twice, creating four small triangular tea sandwiches.
Modern twists on the traditional recipe exist, involving cream cheese, chopped dill, chives or spices, but the traditional recipe is just bread, butter and cucumbers.
Last updated: November 1, 2010