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The Ultimate Cucumber Sandwich

Updated on March 20, 2015

The essential afternoon tea sandwich

For afternoon tea you must have cucumber sandwiches. Not just any old cucumber sandwiches either.

It may sound simple to put together the three essential ingredients of bread, butter, and cucumbers, but there's more to making a cucumber sandwich than you think.

Just as there's an art to a proper afternoon tea, there's an art to the ultimate cucumber sandwich.

The cucumber sandwiches must be good enough to serve to the Queen Of England.

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The Gracious Art of Afternoon Tea

Having afternoon tea is the height of self indulgence. It's a gracious meal served between light lunch and late dinner somewhere between 3 o'clock and 5 o'clock.

Once it was mainly confined to the aristocracy, but times and lifestyles change. The afternoon tea has seen a revival in recent years as its elegance is once more enjoyed.

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The Gracious Art of the Cucumber Sandwich

Cucumber Sandwiches are an integral part of afternoon tea. Make a favourable impression with the traditional cumber sandwich, made in the traditional method.

Cucumber sandwiches must be small, they must be crustless and they must be very, very thin.

Serve cucumber sandwiches in style - Rosanna Le Petit Hameau Two Tiered Tray

Le Petit Hameau porcelain, named for Marie Antoinette's Little Village amidst the gardens of Versailles

Rosanna Le Petit Hameau Two Tiered Tray
Rosanna Le Petit Hameau Two Tiered Tray

The classic beauty of 18th century toile in sumptuous pink and deep charcoal hues. . For your tea, treats and cucumber sandwiches.

 

How to Prepare the Bread for Cucumber Sandwiches

  1. Traditionally, the bread is white.
  2. Remove the crusts from the bread.
  3. Cover a bread slice with a fine layer of soft butter. You could use a very mild cream cheese instead of butter although there is some disagreement over the authenticity of the cheese.
  4. Spread the butter right up to the very edge of the bread slices in the thinnest coating. This protects the bread from getting damp with cucumber juice.
  5. A cucumber sandwich, when picked up, must not become damp enough to moisten your fingers.

Prepare the Cucumber

For a cucumber sandwich you need Garden Cucumbers a couple of smooth skinned, dark green ones..

Wash them thoroughly in case there's any wax in the skin.

Take a good sharp knife and cut off the ends. Where you see rough and knobbly skin, then finely slice as much off as you can. We need to see a good amount of green in the sandwich.

Slice the cucumber into very thin slices. Dash a little lemon juice over the slices - go easy.

Place the cucumber slices onto the bread

You can't prepare the cucumber sandwiches until you're almost ready to serve them or the bread will dry and the cucumbers wilt.

Leave the slicing of the cucumbers and the assembly of the sandwiches for the last minute.

Cucumbers must be really thinly sliced

Afternoon Tea with the Queen - Kensington Palace

bitboy

Cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches with tea as served at The Orangery at Kensington Palace in London.

Every year Queen Elizabeth II opens the private gardens at Buckingham Palace to host three afternoon tea parties

The gates open at 3:00 p.m. so that guests can enjoy a walk in the Royal Gardens, usually closed to the public.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, accompanied by members of the Royal Family, enter the garden at 4:00 p.m. as one of two bands plays the National Anthem. Taking a different route, each Royal circulates amongst the guests. High ranking, dignitaries, and special guests proceed to the Royal tent to join the Royal Family for afternoon tea. The remaining guests are served tea from a 408-foot long buffet table.

At 6:00 p.m., the Queen and Royal Family depart for the Palace, where once again the National Anthem is played to indicate that the party has ended.

Served on Silver

Even if you don't get to have tea with the Queen, you can still be ready in case of any eventuality.

Fingers or Triangles?

The Great Debate. Should cucumber sandwiches be in ladylike fingers? Or should they be in delicate triangles? What do you think? Feel free to state your stand on this particularly vexing question

How should you slice your Cucumber Sandwiches?

Credits

Photos, unless stipulated otherwise are by Susanna Duffy

All comments are greatly appreciated. You don't have to be the Queen to leave yours

© 2010 Susanna Duffy

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    • peterb6001 profile image

      Peter Badham 3 years ago from England

      Afternoon tea or 'high tea' is really back in fashion in England now, showing up on many TV programs like 'Britains Best Bakery'(one of their tasks being to make 5 afternoon snacks. Now you can shoot me, but I love the addition of Marmite in my cucumber sandwiches..

    • profile image

      acreativethinker 3 years ago

      These cucumber sandwiches look amazing. Thanks for sharing. Take care :)

    • profile image

      moonlitta 4 years ago

      It is my first year as a gardener, and my first to pick my own cucumbers either- so I fight cucumber excess... sandwiches are always a great idea!

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 4 years ago from UK

      Usually grow cucumbers in the garden so we have to have lots of cucumber sandwhiches to use them up. This year its more tomatoes, the cukes didn't get thru the cold spring

    • mariacarbonara profile image

      mariacarbonara 4 years ago

      i haven't done a proper afternoon tea in years. Thanks for the reminder. Great lens

    • SusannaDuffy profile image
      Author

      Susanna Duffy 4 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      @OhMe: The Queen would never tolerate mayonnaise on her cucumber sandwiches

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 4 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I love a good cucumber sandwich but we always use mayonnaise instead of butter or cream cheese. I will have to try it your way.

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      liamsquidoo 4 years ago

      Great job on the lens, keep squidooing!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 4 years ago

      Back to sprinkle some angel dust. This reminds me of my Anglophile sister who just passed away. Wonderful lens.

    • StephenJackson2 profile image

      StephenJackson2 4 years ago

      Great Lens and enjoyed visiting, just a shame i don't like cucumbers :P.

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      EricaShops 4 years ago

      I am a tea fanatic and can't wait to make these sandwiches. It'll be like a proper tea party. :)

    • SusanRDavis profile image

      Susan R. Davis 4 years ago from Vancouver

      Return visit for me. Loved this, especially after I read about afternoon tea recently. *blessed*

    • profile image

      cmadden 4 years ago

      I suspect I'll enjoy them whether they are digits or geometric! Oh, great! Now I'm hungry, and not a cucumber in the house.... Love your lens!

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      Science-Fiction-Fan 4 years ago

      Very elegant cucumber sandwiches

    • GregoryMoore profile image

      Gregory Moore 4 years ago from Louisville, KY

      Very tasty! Now I'm hungry. Thanks

    • tedwritesstuff24 profile image

      TedWritesStuff 4 years ago

      Who knew that cucumber sandwiches could actually be interesting. Good job.

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 5 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      I must make these...I've never had one and love cukes. Hope I can make thin slices.

    • eightieschild profile image

      eightieschild 5 years ago

      Wow, you've managed to take what sounds like possibly the dullest food on the planet, and turn it into an interesting lens. :)

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 5 years ago

      I have to learn to slice cucumber paper thin to make these scrumptious tea sandwiches. Thanks for the recipes.

    • jaclinart lm profile image

      jaclinart lm 5 years ago

      My mouth is now watering for cucumber sandwiches!

    • WebMarketingPro profile image

      WebMarketingPro 5 years ago

      I'll be shopping for cucumbers and appropriate bread tomorrow.

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image

      JoyfulPamela2 5 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      These look delightful!

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      gaser983 5 years ago

      Fantastic lens, well done! Squidlike

    • CoeGurl profile image

      CoeGurl 5 years ago from USA

      I very much like tea sandwiches. They alway taste better when someone else makes, them, I don't know why. Lovely lens!

    • ShoppingWithMonty profile image

      ShoppingWithMonty 5 years ago

      It's been so long since I had a cucumber sandwich and now I really want one with a nice cup of tea. I'm going to get some cucumber tomorrow when I go shopping. My mouth is watering at the very thought!

    • JanieceTobey profile image

      JanieceTobey 5 years ago

      Our homeschool co-op had a Tea one afternoon during the time we were studying England. One of the things we served was cucumber sandwiches. I didn't think I'd like them because I'm not a fan of cucumbers, but to my surprise, I loved them!! I'm so glad I tried them!!

    • DuaneJ profile image

      DuaneJ 5 years ago

      I love a classic cucumber sandwich now and then! This lens makes my mouth water!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 5 years ago from USA

      I must have missed the invite when I was there :) Love afternoon tea, well any tea time for that matter. I'm in need of one right now.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Very sweet. You show us how to put on a lovely British tea with the cucumber sandwiches as the star. Pinned to my Cooking and Food board.

    • BestRatedStuff profile image

      BestRatedStuff 5 years ago

      Great lens, love cucumber sandwiches. Love the pictures too, brings out the afternoon tea atmosphere.

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      Jolent 5 years ago

      Great lens! I love cucumber sandwiches for lunch that are hearty filling, so my cucumber sandwiches fall far from any traditions anywhere. First, I use Orowheat Winter Wheat bread for it's nutty sweet taste (and for the sunflower seeds in it too!) . It''s nicely textured bread that tastes good plain even with nothing on it....plus, I rarely ever eat white bread anymore. No butter or mayo for me on this sandwich. On one half of the bread I spread some Laughing Cow Light Garlic and Herb Cheese. The other half of the bread gets a layer of mashed avocado with a sprinkle of salt. I like my cucumbers sliced about 1/4 - 3/8 inch thick because I like the crunch in the sandwich. Add a layer of alfalfa sprouts, and viola! ... a hearty filling cucumber for lunch. Yum. Guess I know what is for lunch today.

    • justDawn1 profile image

      justDawn1 5 years ago

      Have never tried a cucumber sandwich! (Actually, never even heard of it). Will have to give it a try when the farmers market starts up :)

    • Pmona LM profile image

      Pmona LM 5 years ago

      I love cucumber sandwiches with cream cheese, but I also add lettuce and tomato - a far cry from what you would serve the Queen. And I never had them with tea, but it does sounds delicious.

    • alex89 lm profile image

      alex89 lm 5 years ago

      very nice, I love cucumber sandwiches. My great grandmother apparently could slice a cucumber so thin you could read the newspaper through it, I'm still working on it!

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      Science-Fiction-Fan 5 years ago

      How essentially elegant - cucumber sandwiches for afternoon tea

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      7thStone 5 years ago

      Yummy ... I love afternoon tea. In the summer when we have fresh cucumbers and vidalia onions it's one of our favorite sandwiches (we also love tomato with mayo :) Great Lens, thanks for sharing such a nice tradition.

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 5 years ago

      Nice idea, veggies on a sandwich!

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      River_Rose 5 years ago

      Nice lens.....learned something new today ! Thanks !

    • profile image

      scss 5 years ago

      Just love these cucumber sandwiches! Have already had some this spring - now it's summer I look forward to picking cucumbers from my own garden.... NOW THAT is a tasty cucumber!

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      cocktailsexaminer 6 years ago

      Great advice, thank you for sharing!

    • juditpaton profile image

      Iudit Gherghiteanu 6 years ago from Ozun

      So beautiful pictures, and i am sorry because i can not invite you for a tea with those sandwiches, unless you would like to fly 36 hours to get here. but never say never...

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 6 years ago from East Central Florida

      I think it's been years since I had a cucumber sandwich, but I remember liking it very much. Hadn't thought of them in ages, but now I am thinking of them again,

    • traveller27 profile image

      traveller27 6 years ago

      Beautiful lens - I remember having cucumber sandwiches when I was growing up.

    • pimbels lm profile image

      pimbels lm 6 years ago

      They look delicious. Wonderful lens, thank you.

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      annamari 6 years ago

      I did not know how very important the thin cucumber sandwich was to having tea, until reading your lens. I think I shall invite the gals over for this special treat! Thanks!

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Now I am fully prepared should the Queen stop by for tea and cucumber sandwiches. You cucumber sandwiches are an event all by themselves.

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      Science-Fiction-Fan 7 years ago

      Pass the plate of cucumber sandwiches please

    • jgall34 lm profile image

      jgall34 lm 7 years ago

      I did not realize you could make so many variations of a cucumber sandwich. very good lens.

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 7 years ago from West Virginia

      I hadn't heard of these before, but they sound quite tasty. I'll give them a try some time.

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image

      JoyfulPamela2 7 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      Oh, I haven't had one of those in ages! It looks and sounds so delicious. Cucumbers are on my shopping list this week! Do I have to have a tea party to enjoy them? : )

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      It has been forever since I have had a cucumber sandwich. This made me long for one so badly. Thank you, I will have to get to making myself one soon.

    • VSP profile image

      VSP 7 years ago

      I'm back, just want to let you know I added it to my Cambric Tea lens

    • hlkljgk profile image

      hlkljgk 7 years ago from Western Mass

      this sounds perfect for my abundance of garden cucumbers.

    • VSP profile image

      VSP 7 years ago

      My daughter was looking for this recipe the other day. I'll email this lens to her.

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      happynutritionist 7 years ago

      I have never had a cucumber sandwich before...will have to try this! I added this lens to the plexo on my Vegetarian Sandwiches lens, if you have other vegi sandwich lenses, please feel free to add them:-)

    • LadyFlashman profile image

      LadyFlashman 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      I adore Afternoon Tea, I recently went to the Orangery in Kensington and it was marvellous. One day I will have to go to the Ritz. I love the humour of this lens and the gorgeous photos, cucumber sandwiches are fantastic - long may they live!