Australian vanilla slice is a snack consisting of a layer of vanilla yumminess sandwiched between two layers of light and crisp pastry. It is similar to a French mille-feuille.
The New Zealand version is more like a custard square, usually with passionfruit icing. Not so nice. In Austria it is called a Cremeschnitte. Maybe this is where the term Snot Block originated, sounds a bit like it. Whatever there are called though, I love them, and cannot get enough of them.
My quest to find the perfect vanilla slice started many years ago. I have travelled Australia, far and wide, and, along the way, have stopped at almost every bakery in my search for the perfect vanilla slice.
There are many imposters out there. Some are nothing more than a lumpy heap of custard sandwiched between some soggy pastry. Others are a little more refined, but still none the less, are custard and pastry.
A true vanilla slice has no custard in it. It is not sickly gluggy yellow stuff. A true vanilla slice is almost white. It is creamy. Vanillary, is that even a word? The pastry is thin and crisp.
A true vanilla slice is something that keeps you wanting more. It keeps you always on the look out for the next best one. Even the thought of it brings saliva to one’s mouth. Not unlike a dog drooling over a juicy bone.
My local town has three major bakeries. Number one has a vanilla slice, which is somewhat akin to a jelly baby in so much as the texture of it is rubbery and stretchy. Goodness only knows how they make it.
Number two has a somewhat custardy looking filling and soggy pastry. Not something that would inspire you to go back for seconds.
Number three has the most vanilla slice-like treat. The pastry is a little thick, the icing is thick, sweet and pink, but the filling is quite creamy and not a hint of custard powder to be had.
Despite this, there is no perfect slice to be had there.
In Queensland I sampled some pretty good examples of slice. The best being at Morayfield Plaza. The slice was almost perfect, just the pastry was a little thick, but still nice and crunchy. Several other samples in Queensland were not too bad.
Down through New South Wales I found no good slices. They were all custard squares. Some had an extra layer of cream, I think to make it more palatable, but it did not work for me. I am fussy.
Back in Victoria, about 150km from home, I read about the bakery that had won the annual Vanilla Slice Challenge. I had to go, surely this was going to be the most perfect slice.
I set off one morning, on my quest. When I arrived at the town, and it was a tiny town, I headed straight for the bakery. There were people and cars everywhere. All seeking what I was seeking.
The were trays and trays of delicious looking slices, there must have been hundreds of them. All were flying out the door with great speed.
I told myself to stop looking. I had to buy one and try it!
I was not disappointed. My search was over. This was the perfect slice.
Two sheets of super thin crispy pastry. The filling was to die for. Light, creamy, full of flavour, not gluggy or with any hint of custard. The icing was thin and not too sweet.
This was what I had been looking for all my life. I was in vanilla slice heaven.
I usually just buy puff pastry from the supermarket as it is easier than making it myself. Cook two sheets of puff pastry and let them cool.
To make the filling I put 2 and 3/4 cups of milk,and the same of cream in a saucepan. I add 1 cup of castor sugar and 2/3 cup of butter. Bring this to a rolling boil.
Meanwhile mix 1 and 1/4 cups of cornflour, 2/3 cup of milk and 3 teaspoons of vanilla to a smooth paste. Add this to the boiled ingredients and cook, stirring until thick and smooth.
Cool slightly then place one sheet of pastry in a tin, top with the filling the put the other sheet of pastry on top. Put a weight on it and then stick in the fridge until cold and set.
Top with icing of your choice, or just dust with icing sugar. Enjoy.