Serves 8 approx.

  • 1 x 900g pan loaf or a round country loaf
  • 100g approx. butter
  • a long sharp knife with a pointed top


  • c 500g cooked ham thinly sliced
  • c150g pickled cucumbers, dabbed dry on a clean kitchen towel

Sandwich fillings might include:

  • scrambled egg and chives
  • smoked salmon and pickled cucumbers (dry the cucumbers before assembling)
  • gravlax with sweet mustard sauce
  • roasted pepper, mozzarella and pesto
  • mature Cheddar cheese with tomato relish and cucumber pickle
  • roast chicken with red pepper mayonnaise and sunflower sprouts
  • tomato, buffalo mozzarella, tapenade and basil leaves...
  • garnish: salad leaves, watercress, flat parsley, radishes, spring onions


  1. Insert the knife at the side just over the bottom crust, just inside the back of the loaf. Push it through until it reaches but does not go through the crust on the far side.
  2. Without making any bigger the cut through which the knife was inserted, work the knife in a fan shape as far forward as possible, then pull it out.
  3. Do the same from the opposite corner at the other end of the loaf. The bread should now be cut away from the bottom crust inside without a noticeable mark on the exterior of the loaf.
  4. Next cut through the top of the loaf to make a lid, carefully leaving one long side uncut, as a hinge.
  5. Finally, with the lid open, cut the bread away from the sides. Ease it carefully, it should turn out in a solid brick or a round, leaving an empty case behind.
  6. Cut it into slices, long horizontal ones, square vertical ones or rounds, depending on the shape of the loaf. Carefully stack them, butter them and fill them with your chosen filling or fillings in the order in which they were cut.
  7. Don't forget to season each sandwich. Press the sandwiches together firmly and fill them back, still in order into the loaf.

For a picnic:
Close the top of the case and wrap it up, it will gape slightly because of the extra bulk of delicious filling. The sandwiches will keep very fresh.

For a party:
Leave the lid slightly open. Decorate inside and out with lettuce and watercress leaves, small ripe tomatoes, spring onions etc. to look like a little hamper overflowing with vegetables.