Did I practice before making the party bread? No.
Martha's book shows a light and dark bread combo for sandwiches. In the google research I saw that unsweetened cocoa or carob powder would offer the darker bread coloring, so that is what I added to the recipe (1/2 cup of cocoa). So I ended up with 3 light loaves and 3 dark loaves. Monte used an electric knife we got for a wedding present and have hardly used - it's the best for slicing a nice even 1/4" slice. With the 1/4" slice, with all the tea sandwich varieties we made, only one of each loaf color got used. So I froze the rest of the loves, cut in thirds.
PAIN DE MAI BREAD6 C warm water (milk is used, so I added powdered milk to the water)
2 sticks + 2 Tb (18Tb) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 C sugar
1 Tb salt
about 15 C flour
Add 6C of the flour and yeast and sugar to the mixing bowl and barely mix - let set about 10 minutes (this is a sponge, to let the yeast start bubbling). Then add in the salt, butter and flour till the dough starts balling up leaving the sides of the bowl. I stop and feel how sticky it is, adding in flour till tacky, not sticky, then let it knead about 10 minutes. All bread recipes have you do a rising in the bowl before putting the dough in the pans for a second rising. I never do this, because of the sponging and how well the Bosch kneads dough. Since the KAF recipe suggested it, I decided to just let it rise in the Bosch bowl before dumping it out on my oiled counter top, dividing it in three, rolling it up and pressing in each pan, and let rise again. I normally put a cloth over the rising loaves. It was suggested to put plastic wrap - is this to see it? I did. And when close to the top I snapped/slid the lids on, let set a bit more and put them in the pre-heated oven.
The bread pans with the lids are compressing the bread so the air bubbles are more consistent throughout the bread - a little denser for holding together better. So no rounded tops with the larger air bubbles at the top of the bread. Also, it's almost crustless.
Mine did cave a bit in the middle - not much. That's another thing I have to read about again and practice and perfect.
Sarah cut the squares and hearts for the mixed bread design for some of the sandwiches. I had all the sandwich making ingredients ready for the party, but didn't have them made ahead of time. My party was to be a crafting station party: paper craft station for making valentines, paint and glitter station, wet felt over homemade soap station in the greenhouse, needle felting station in the guest room, a crayon melting & one-use-soap station in the laundry/sitting room. So since the sandwiches weren't made in time, sandwich-making became one of the craft stations. I think people enjoyed that. I'll be posting about the crafts on my overflow blog and continue posting tea party recipes here on this blog.
Oh ... I read it's better to make your tea sandwich bread a day ahead - easier to slice, I think. And too, the leftovers from the cut outs? I was going to do a strata for breakfast, but didn't, so now they're all dry and I'll make them into bread crumbs and store them in the freezer - ready for coating fish, or in meatloaf ...
People are still telling me "thank you" for the party and want it to become a tradition. I will make the Valentine Tea crafting party a tradition, and thinking of doing some other seasonal similar parties - like Ukrainian Egg dyeing craft close to Easter; a late summer tea in the full bloom garden ...