It’s official. I’ve lost the plot.  Or, as one might say in Ireland: I’ve gone mad as a brush, a bit doolally, cracked as a cricket, bonkers, a bit touched…. and, in all likelihood--away with the fairies.

You see, the cake pictured above is not your average-ordinary cake. It is NOT a gorgeous vanilla sponge slathered with tangy Meyer lemon icing, nor is it a secret red velvet covered in velvety cream cheese frosting. No, no, no. It is a cake made out of four layers of homemade bread, filled with savoury, creamy goodness and spackled with chilled mayonnaise. Oh, and by savoury, creamy goodness, I mean stick to the ribs, wholesome, rich, Irish-style sandwich fillings. {Ahem, mad as a bag of cats}

I’ve had a notion for quite some time that I needed to share a post about the beauty of Irish Sandwichery with you. I suppose I am taking a bit of liberty with the term Irish Sandwichery, but I believe it serves it well. The art of the Irish sandwich or “roll” is a craft to be reckoned with.

However, it did take me a bit of time to adjust to sandwiches in Ireland. I say this because sandwiches were kind of my ‘thang’ for a long time. I felt intimately close with sandwiches as they comforted me on days when I worked through lunch (more often than not) crunching production numbers or screening through buckets of directors.

I treasured my weekly stiletto sprints to the deli to choose my special sandwich, grab a bag of chips (crisps) and a spritzy lemonade before heading back to my office. I had a bit of a system in place, whereby I would alternate rare roast beef with cheddar on a braided roll with corned beef and Swiss on Kaiser. The odd day I would splash out for chicken salad with grapes and almonds on croissant.  If it was cold out, perhaps a gooey tuna melt and some soup too. Chicken and stuffing had not yet entered my universe.

It is possible that my sandwich affinity started when I was a small girl. I remember my mother making up platters of tuna sandwiches or fluffer-nutters for us when I was still young enough to run around topless on a hot summer sprinkler kind of day. We would eat sandwich after sandwich washed down with tumblers of Country Time lemonade. The picture of health.

So, when I saw my first sandwich board at a popular Irish café, I was stumped. Egg mayonnaise? Ham and salad? Cheese and Onion? Chicken and Stuffing? Tuna and Sweetcorn? Ploughman’s? Bacon and Boiled Egg? Not one turkey pastrami on rye. Wha? Despite the obvious carbtasticness of Chicken and Stuffing, I went for it. And, umm, never looked back.

I have tried each and every one of these traditional Irish sandwich fillings and they are all some kind of wonderful. We often have just sandwiches for evening tea on the farm. Now, these are not the only choices you will find in Ireland, but without a doubt, you will find most of these options in every deli, grocery store, filling station, pubs and casual cafes around this fair country. (*Oh, and for early morning sandwich lovers, try the famous Irish breakfast roll: sausage, rasher, egg, hash brown, puddings, onion, butter and sauce on baguette)

For this post, I really wanted to celebrate Irish sandwich fillings and was trying to think of how to go about it when I was struck by a tasty memory of eating a cake made out of sandwiches years ago. Growing up in the Midwestern part of the USA, you will find plenty of Scandinavian influence in cooking and baking. I distinctly remember a friend’s Scandi mother making these massive sandwich cakes from time to time, and online research tells me that they were likely called Smörgåstårta.

And, so it was decided: I would make a sandwich cake layered with Irish-style fillings. Serendipity!

First, using Rachel Allen’s recipe, I baked my bread layers in springform baking tins, just like you would a sweet layer cake.

Then, I made up the fillings; I chose to do three fillings, which makes it a gorgeous tower of a cake, but to be honest, a bit too much trouble to cut into. If you decide to make this, I would go with two thick layers for the ease of it. I went with tuna + sweetcorn, cheese + onion, and chicken + stuffing (with a bit of rocket). I “iced” the cake with chilled mayonnaise and adorned the top with wild garlic flowers and sorrel leaves.

And, for the big reveal…..sloppy, creamy, oozy, bready, messy, scrumptious savoury cake heaven.

Really lovely treat to bring to an afternoon lunch, garden party or pot luck. Choose your own favourite flavours and decorative toppers. You can also do this using bread rounds from the bakery or store.

Slan Abhaile

Imen x

Photos & Styling by Imen McDonnell 2012. Wild Garlic & Sorrel foraged by Geoffrey McDonnell. With thanks to the Irish Twitter squad for helping me with the mad Irish expressions.

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