Mrs Beeton's all-bread sandwich recreated for tough-times Britain

15 November 2011

It won't be the most elaborate sandwich ever created: bread, between bread and bread.

However, the Royal Society of Chemistry's Toast Sandwich, to be unveiled Wednesday, will be a genuine slice of history - and there cannot be a cheaper meal to be had anywhere in Britain.

Tomorrow the RSC will revive the neglected mid-Victorian sandwich to help the country through hard times.

For a West End tasting the society will recreate the toast sandwich (featuring salt and pepper), first promoted by the celebrated Mrs Beeton in her cook book, published 150 years ago next month.

So confident is the society that it has come up with the cheapest meal in the country that it will serve up 200 to the first person who can prove them wrong by devising a more economical - but edible - lunchtime meal. 

The toast sandwich is taken from Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management which became a best-seller after its appearance a century and a half ago in 1861.

Planning an anniversary feature for its website, the RSC had combed the tome for recipes reflecting her astonishing range, which also addressed meals for less well-off Victorians. 

Dr John Emsley, of the RSC, said: "We could have gone for one of the thousands of recipes that Mrs Beeton employed, most of them being table-groaning creations full of meats. 

"But, given the stern days we are yet to experience, we decided to go for an unknown dish that requires little money and little time, and which she devised to cater for less well-off people. 

"You simply put a piece of dry toast between two slices of bread and butter, with salt and pepper to taste. I've tried it and it's surprisingly nice to eat and quite filling.  I would emphasise that toast sandwiches are also good at saving you calories as well as money, provided you only have one toast sandwich for lunch and nothing else.

"The RSC decided to promote Mrs Beeton's toast sandwich because it might just be what we need to get us through the harsh economic times that are forecast. 

"Nor need you use butter; margarine will do just as well. That option was not open to Mrs Beeton because she was writing a few years before margarine was invented. That was first produced in France in 1869.  

"Of course, when we finally emerge from these dark days we will seek something more celebratory from Mrs Beeton's pantheon of rich recipes to welcome back the good times.

RSC employee Jon Edwards said today: "In my student days I thought a meal of '9p noodles' from Tesco was the epitome of thrift - but a toast sandwich is tastier, quicker, has more calories and comes in at just 7.5p. 

Maybe more students should turn to Mrs Beeton for meals on the cheap."

The chef at the RSC will prepare toast sandwiches at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London at 10am on Wednesday 16 November, which will then be offered at 11am to visitors heading for the neighbouring Royal Academy. 

Mrs Beeton's Toast Sandwich

Toast a thin slice of bread.

Butter two slices of bread and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. 

Place the slice of toast between the 2 slices of bread-and-butter to form a sandwich. 

Nutrition: 3 slices of white bread = 240 Calories. Butter = 10 g = 90 Calories

Total  =  330 Calories
Toast sandwich nutrients
Protein = 9.5 g
Fat = 12 g
Carbohydrate = 55 g
Fibre = 4.5 grams
Calcium = 120 mg
Iron = 2 mg
Vitamin A = 90 mcg
Vitamin B1 = 0.25 mg
Vitamin B2 = 80 mcg
Vitamin B3 = 4 mg
Vitamin D = 0.08 mcg

Source: Nutrient Content of Food Portions, by Jill Davies and John Dickerson, published by the RSC 1991.

Update 22 November: Thank you all for your inventive suggestions - we've received so many hundreds of austerity recipes it will take weeks to check them all! Clearly picking 'the first' will be difficult, so we will randomly select a winner from all those entries that qualify for the prize. We're now drawing this offer to a close so we can focus on finding a winner.

Please note this offer is closed and no longer valid as of 22 November 2011.

Contact and Further Information

Press Office
Royal Society of Chemistry, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BA
Tel: +44 (0)1223 432294
Fax: +44 (0)1223 426594