This easy hack combines springtime strawberries with a sweet cream cheese filling to spectacular effect, with every bite a mix of creamy, juicy, tart, sweet, soft and crunchy. Get your hands on some shokupan milk bread or make your sandos with soft, buttery brioche loaves from the supermarket instead.
4 slices Japanese milk bread* or brioche
150g cream cheese (we used Philadelphia)
300ml whipping cream, chilled
½ tsp vanilla extract
100g icing sugar
2 punnets (about 20) strawberries
1. To make the cream, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer to soften it. Add cream and vanilla extract and beat until it forms soft peaks. Sift in the icing sugar and beat until it forms firm peaks. Refrigerate until needed.
2. Cut the tops off the strawberries at the shoulder, so that they will sit evenly when upside down. Lay out two slices of brioche and spread with the whipped cream.
3. Place three similarly sized, upside-down whole, trimmed strawberries right down the middle of each slice. Fill in either side with extra strawberries (these can be whole or cut in half).
4. Spread the two remaining slices with a thick layer of cream. Place cream-side down on top of strawberries and gently press (the extra cream will fill the gaps between the fruit). Repeat with remaining brioche, berries and cream. Wrap sandwiches (uncut) in plastic film, and refrigerate for an hour or two to firm up.
5. Unwrap the sandwiches. Cut in half through the middle line of strawberries, turn over to show the cross-section, and serve. (For a more delicate finger sandwich, trim the crusts off with a sharp knife.)