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Monday, February 13, 2012

PB&J for Valentine's Day

You're probably wondering what making sandwiches could possibly have to do with cake decorating (and I wouldn't blame you at all). 
The thing is, cookie cutters can be used to cut shapes out of everything from fondant to cheese, and every single time I make sandwiches I reach for one or both of these spatulas from my cake decorating gear: the small tapered spatula and the small offset spatula.
The bread I prefer to use is Sara Lee Soft & Smooth Whole Grain White Bread. It actually has a texture that's more like cake than bread; it doesn't have huge air bubbles that the jam will seep through, it cuts cleanly without much shredding, and it actually tastes pretty good. I think it's from the same planet as Sara Lee's pound cake.
This piece cut out extremely cleanly:
As with cookies, cut your first shape out as close to the edge as possible; you might have enough room to cut out another smaller shape:
The next piece didn't cut out quite as nicely; this is what I mean by "shredding." 
Just pinch those excess crumbs off against the cutter; be ready to clean the counter afterwards.
I prefer jam over jelly; it's much more maneuverable. I start by using the offset spatula to lay down a smear…
…and then I use the tapered spatula to push the jam to the outer edges (the "detail work"):
I wipe off the spatulas on the cutout that's about to be peanut buttered:
And I repeat the whole process on that piece:
That tapered spatula works great for making the tiny sandwiches; you won't need the other spatula at all:
Afterward, I always wash the cutters and dry them immediately. I don't put them back in their box until they've sat out for a while in the drying rack. Certain cutters can rust, which is something I have yet to encounter because I try to treat my cutters well (most of them have been in my family for generations; I'll bet you have a few like that, huh?). If they do start showing their age, they can be spruced up with silver polish. 
From the perspective of kids, the other side benefit to this whole process is they win the battle of having the crusts cut off their bread. Toss the scraps to the birds, and everyone's happy! 

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