I went for a drive along the Mornington Peninsula recently with my Mum and sister and I noticed while we were there that there were lots of bakeries declaring that they made the best vanilla slice in the world. We did stop at one shop in the town of Flinders which declared they had the “World’s biggest and best vanilla slice”, and you can see from the photo below, it is definitely the biggest I’ve ever seen!
When I returned to the Central coast I did a bit of research on the web, and I discovered that Victorians have a bit of an obsession for vanilla slice! There is even a vanilla slice competition, called the Great Australian Vanilla Slice Triumph, held in Ouyen, in western Victoria, every year. Whichever bakery wins the competition finds that their sales of vanilla slice go through the roof after that!
I thought I’d have a go at making this delicious Aussie treat, so I found a recipe on Taste.com.au which seems to be popular. After reading some comments on the website I have adapted the recipe slightly to ensure the custard sets properly. I’ve increased the amount of custard powder from 1/2 to 3/4 cup and I made sure to use proper corn flour made from corn, as this improves the setting. I like to have passionfruit icing instead of vanilla icing on my vanilla slice, although I know purists would not approve!
Adapted from Taste.com.au. Recipe originally published in delicious. magazine – September 2002, Page 97. Recipe by Valli Little.
Start this recipe the day before!
- 2 bought puff pastry sheets
- 250ml (1 cup) milk
- 1 vanilla bean, split
- 3/4 cup cornflour
- 3/4 cup custard powder
- 220g (1 cup) caster sugar
- 750ml (3 cups) thickened cream
- 50g unsalted butter
- 3 egg yolks
- 230g (1 1/2 cups) pure icing sugar, sifted
- 2 tbs canned passionfruit in syrup
Preheat oven to 210 degrees Celcius. Place each sheet of puff pastry on a tray lined with baking paper. Prick the pastry all over with a fork, then bake for 10 minutes, till lightly golden. Set aside to cool.
Line a 23cm square cake tin with aluminium foil. Trim each piece of pastry to fit the tin, then place one piece, cooked side up, in the bottom of the tin.
Place milk in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Cut vanilla bean in half and scrape seed into the milk then place rest of bean in milk. Heat till warm, then remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes.
Place cornflour, custard powder and sugar in a medium saucepan, then strain milk into pan. Whisk until smooth, then add cream. Heat on low, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. This will take about 20 or so minutes. Add butter stirring till melted. Remove from heat, then add yolks, one at a time, whisking to combine.
Pour custard into tin. Allow to cool a little, then place other piece of pastry on top. Refrigerate overnight.
The next day mix together sifted icing sugar and passionfruit syrup in a bowl then spread over top of slice. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes before serving.
Everything up to this point went perfectly for me, until it was time to actually serve it! There are lots of suggestions on the web for the best way to cut a vanilla slice. I tried to remove it from the tin and cut with a sharp bread knife; I tried cutting it in the tin; I would have even tried using an electric knife if I had one on hand! Unfortunately the custard didn’t set hard enough so my slices all looked like a gooey mess.
So I’ve come to the conclusion that despite tasting amazing (although much too decadent), the presentation let this recipe down. Considering how much I spent on a vanilla bean to make this, I would have liked it to look a bit nicer. But I would definitely use this vanilla custard recipe again. The custard has a wonderful flavour but you can only eat a small amount as it is so rich. I think it would be fabulous used for mini custard tarts! Mmmm….
Update 31/7/11: I have tries making this classic Austalian treat again using a recipe by Donna Hay with much more success! You can see my post on it here.
You might also like: