The world of fast food has, little by little, changed the way America wakes up. Americans who only a decade ago insisted on the familiar plateful of items are now piling those and many other foods into, onto and over some form of sandwich.

At first, of course, people who acquired a taste for breakfast sandwiches at fast-food outlets satisfied their cravings at those outlets. More and more, however, home cooks are learning they can create much the same pleasure in their own kitchens.French toast, waffles, biscuits and croissants are perfect raw materials for breakfast-style sandwiches. Schoolchildren and college students in particular enjoy eating hand-held sandwiches at home; employees who grab breakfast to eat at their desks are also promising targets.

Some cooks find satisfaction in making everything from scratch, but there's no reason to frown upon frozen French toast and frozen waffles as shortcuts. Just top them with fruit, cheese, bacon or ham, or with any combination that makes sense at the moment, and you'll have a pleasing breakfast sandwich.

Other great starting points are bagels and croissants from the deli section of the supermarket; even leftover buttermilk biscuits from your favorite fried chicken franchise.

Once you get the hang of it, you can leave fast food in the dust and take your cues from restaurants. For example, puff pastry can be filled with sauteed vegetables tossed with eggs and diced ham, or perhaps with marinated fruit.

Don't forget the English muffin - which pretty much inspired the breakfast sandwich in famous brunch dishes like Eggs Benedict and Eggs Sardou. There are a thousand ways to mix eggs and meat, and an equal number of sauces.