Dear Constant Reader,
In my collection of mid-century cookbooks, I’m most fond of a series by Robert H. Loeb Jr. I’ve already shared a recipe from Wolf in Chef’s Clothing, his cookbook for men. Now here’s one from Date Bait: The Younger Set’s Picture Cook Book (1952)
Despite the name, it’s mostly recipes to impress your friends and your parents. There’s a lot of reliance on packaged foods (this is the 1950s after all!), especially cake mixes. The first chapter is snacks to keep in your icebox for the hungry midnight raider. I made Bedroll Special, a pinwheel sandwich.
You need bacon, eggs, mayonnaise, butter, olives, and a loaf of unsliced bread.
Start by hard boiling the eggs and cooking the bacon. Chop the eggs fine and crumble the bacon. Mix with mayonnaise.
Then comes the tricky part. Cut off all the crusts, except the bottom one, from the bread. Then cut two thin slices lengthwise from the top. The only unsliced loaf I found at my nearby supermarket was Italian bread which turned out to be too irregularly shaped and squishy to make thin, even slices. I got rather raggedy results, which I ran over with a rolling pin to make flatter and more even. If I do anything like this again, I’ll get an unsliced sandwich loaf from our local Irish bakery.
Spread each slice with softened butter, then spread with the mayo mixture. Get close to the edge. At this point in the recipe you were supposed to go over it with a rolling pin, but I didn’t want to get goop all over mine and the slice was already pretty flat.
Place olives in a row along one short end and then roll the bread up. Wrap each roll in a piece of wax paper and twist the ends to make a little sandwich bonbon. Stash in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
Before serving, take the rolls out of the fridge and unwrap them. Slice cross-wise into rounds (a serrated knife works well for this). You can cut the ends off first if they’re not so tidy. Pile the rounds onto a serving platter. The cookbook had a little banner that said “You’re For Me”, which you could cut out, glue to a toothpick, and plant in the middle of the stack of sandwiches before replacing them in the fridge for your midnight snacker to find.
Instead of a lovely platter, I put them in a tupperware so they wouldn’t dry out and to make them easier to transport to rehearsal. My presentation is often less than elegant.
They’re pretty good. My taste testers were quite positive. The filling is completely unseasoned, so the salty, briny, and smoky flavors from the olives and bacon were necessary.
2 slices bacon
3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 loaf unsliced bread
Hard boiling the eggs. Let cool. Cook the bacon until crisp and drain. Crumble bacon into a bowl and mix in mayonnaise. Chop eggs fine and add to mixture.
Cut off all the crusts, except the bottom one, from the bread. Then cut two slices 1/8″ thick lengthwise from loaf.
Spread each slice with softened butter, then spread with the mayo mixture. Get close to the edge. Roll bread with a rolling pin to flatten.
Place olives in a row along one short end and then roll the bread up. Wrap each roll in a piece of wax paper and twist the ends securely. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Before serving, take the rolls out of the fridge and slice (a serrated knife works best) cross-wise into rounds. Pile the rounds onto a serving platter. If not serving right away, keep under a damp tea towel to keep the bread from drying out.
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