By Mark Wieser
I wonder how many of today’s readers of the Fredericksburg Standard remember a sugar bread sandwich. By now you know of my love of sugar and the fact that I do campaign in favor of it – understanding that moderation is important of course. But I feel I can be honest with all of you, and when I was growing up, a sugar sandwich was one of my favorites. Just thinking of it brings back memories of a thick slice of Mama’s home-baked bread, spread with a thick layer of home-churned butter, and sprinkled with lots of white sugar.
Yes, my mother baked bread every morning, my father insisted on it, she also milked two Jersey cows every morning seven days a week before breakfast and once again every evening before making supper. (It had been three before I came along, but then one died, perhaps of malnutrition since the only sustaining grass we had in our pasture was something like needle grass, and the only supplement we provided at milking was something called “shorts”- actually wheat shorts which are really good for milk cows.)
Be that as it may, we had plenty of whole milk—drinking a glass of it while still warm and fresh often left me with a Schnurrbart (mustache). The fresh milk was left in large covered bowls all day and its end, the cream, which rose to the top was spooned off and refrigerated. On Saturdays we sat in the window bench and churned butter. However, I never did like buttermilk, so I can’t remember how we got rid of that.
But in the mid-50s America was changing. Our ice box now came with a larger freezer, and our local grocery began offering an ever-increasing variety of frozen items, and the appearance of frozen, ready-to-bake loaves of bread dough did not fail to catch my mother’s attention. With no hesitation she made the switch. These would save her hours of mixing and kneading. And so, from that day on she bought those ready to rise and bake loaves. My dad never knew, and she never told him!
I was sent to school every day with a sacked lunch which included typically a jelly sandwich. By noon, the jam or jelly had pretty much soaked into the bread and I was left with largely a flavored sandwich with butter. On occasion, however, my mother would surprise me and make me a sandwich of only sugar. If you have never eaten one, don’t knock it, it is truly a nostalgic memory. For many, these sugar sandwiches were considered depression sandwiches. Others also remember that butter and sugar were rationed during WWII and so difficult to get.
Some argue that to make a perfect sugar sandwich, the bread must be soft and white. That’s not true! Nothing ever can beat home baked white bread with its flakey crust! Dietz’s bread was perfect. The butter was real as well, and we spread it quite thickly! Some described this humble snack as a “textural dream.” For me, the butter seemed to crystalize the sugar a bit by noontime. Moreover, the hours wrapped in wax paper also brought out the savory flavor of the salt that had been added during the churning process of the butter.
One word of caution, please do not substitute margarine since it lacks all the desirable texture, smell, and nature of butter. The switch from eating real butter to margarine also killed the butter, cinnamon toast and sugar sandwiches of the day, and that is too bad. The ‘50s, one might say, put these sandwiches on the endangered species list. Today, making a sandwich out of sugar would never cross anyone’s mind and that is unfortunate. No matter how you may want to respond to this delicacy, you must admit, sugar sandwiches are just bold. They taste sweet and are ever so simple to make. And, I am going to make myself one right now, and the added benefit is – this recipe doesn’t require electricity!
2 slices of white bread (if home baked, even better)
1 heaping tbsp or more of salted butter
2 tsp granulated white sugar
Spread butter on two slices of white bread
Sprinkle sugar evenly on one slice
Cover with the other slice