Yesterday afternoon, we were going to a little family get-together and I was supposed to bring something sandwichy. I baked a ham last week, and I love sandwiches on thick-sliced homemade bread, but even that gets a little old sometimes and I want something different. Different yet still sandwichy. I had this dim, distant, long-ago memory of something sandwichy that I used to make. I haven’t made it in a long time (don’t know why), but I was suddenly obsessed with making it.
I combed through my old cookbooks. Couldn’t find it. I searched the internet. Couldn’t find anything that sounded right. I can only guess that maybe I got the recipe from a magazine. Who knows. All I do know is that I couldn’t find anything that sounded just like what I was looking for. Not letting that stop me, I decided to make it up.
Mind you, I was bringing this dish to a get-together, and I had three hours before it was time to leave for the get-together WITH MY DISH, so if it came out wrong, I was gonna be screwed. But anyway! Why not! Life is a bold adventure! (I don’t recommend experimenting when you’re on your way to a party. It’s stressful.)
I believe, from my faint memories of this dish, that the meat used in the recipe was corned beef, but that’s not important. You could use shredded chicken, roast, turkey, chopped ham, ground beef, whatever you want or whatever is left over in your fridge. I’m sure that cream cheese was involved. And onion. I’m also sure that the bread in the recipe was not already baked. The filling was baked with the dough, in a French-loaf style. This is all I know for sure.
This is what I came up with–starting, of course, with Grandmother Bread. Okay, let’s go live dangerously with a made-on-the-fly recipe. YOU HAVE THREE HOURS TO MAKE THIS WORK. (No pressure.)
How to make a Party Sandwich Ring:
One-loaf standard Grandmother Bread recipe
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups flour
For the filling–
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces sour cream
2 tablespoons finely diced onion
2 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
3 cups chopped ham
In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, sugar, and salt. Let sit five minutes. Stir in first two cups of flour with a heavy spoon. Add the remaining flour a little at a time as needed, stirring until dough becomes too stiff to continue stirring easily. Add a little more flour and begin kneading. The amount of flour is approximate–your mileage may vary! Use as much flour as you need for a pliable dough. Continue adding flour and kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic. Let dough rise in a greased, covered bowl until doubled. (Usually, about an hour.) Prepare filling.
Using an electric mixer or a sturdy spoon, combine cream cheese and sour cream. Add onions, dill, and seasoned salt. Stir in chopped ham.
Uncover bowl; sprinkle in a little more flour and knead again briefly. Roll dough out on a well-floured surface into an approximately 12-inch by 9-inch rectangle.
Spread filling over dough.
Roll dough up from the long edge.
This is just like rolling dough up for cinnamon rolls, only you’re not going to slice the dough afterward.
Seal ends and edges.
Using a greased baking sheet, and flipping the dough over so the sealed edges are down, transfer the dough carefully–you can either place it straight out as a French-style loaf….OR! I was possessed with the notion of making a ring.
I placed the dough in a circle. This was not part of the dim, distant, long-ago memory I had of this recipe, but it sounded festive. Then, because I was getting worried about time, I put it in front of the wood stove to encourage it to hurry up and rise.
I didn’t really have as much rise time as I needed (considering my house was kinda cold). I turned the oven on to 350-degrees and, after about 30 minutes of rising, put the sandwich ring right in there to let it continue rising as the oven heated.
This sandwich ring takes longer to bake than a loaf of bread would take because of the filling. Once it got up to temperature (350-degrees), I baked it for about 40-45 minutes. (If you bake it in a straight loaf, it might not take as long.) The ring rose together into an almost complete round loaf as it baked, with all the ham and cream cheese goodness rolled up inside. Edit to add: Tips from the comments section–put a glass in the middle of the ring to retain the ring shape during rising and baking–or use a tube pan.
By the time it came out of the oven, I didn’t have time to do anything but transfer it to a pan to transport it, cross my fingers, and go. We got to the party and I said, “Stand back!” I cut into it like a scientist studying an unknown object unearthed from a swamp in Peru. Then I took pictures and said, “If this is good, I’m going to write a post about it. If it’s bad, this never happened.”
About an hour later, there was nothing but a crumb left on this platter.
If you’ve got a party coming up, try it! You can use any meat you like, whatever herbs and seasonings you prefer. You could also use vegetables and make it vegetarian, or use a combination of meat and vegetables. Just make sure it all adds up to no more than three cups. You can even make it in advance and keep it in the fridge. When ready to serve, slice in sandwich wedges. It’s delicious–everything I remembered and wanted back, and maybe even a little bit better. I’m pretty sure this is a new favorite around here. It’s a fabulously cool, self-contained sandwichy thing. Go put this in your oven!
UPDATE: Here it is baked in a tube pan. That works great!
See this recipe at Farm Bell Recipes and save it to your recipe box.