• Baklava vanilla slice (Billie Justice Thomson)

Aussie favourite meets Middle Eastern delicacy. Creamy vanilla custard scented with cardamom and topped with a caramel pistachio crunch, here’s my take on a timeless classic. #BringBackTheClassics

Makes
9

Preparation

1hr
30min

Cooking

50min

Skill level

Mid
By
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Ingredients

  • 30 g (¼ cup) shelled pistachios, ground in a mortar and pestle
  • 1½ tbsp raw granulated sugar
  • Icing sugar, for dusting

Rough puff pastry

  • 500 g plain flour, chilled, plus extra for rolling (see Note)
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 400 g unsalted butter, cut into 2 cm cubes at room temperature
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 200 ml – 240 ml iced water

Cardamom custard

  • 375 ml (1½ cups) milk
  • 375 ml (1½ cups) thin cream
  • 60 g unsalted butter, chopped
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom, (4 pods)
  • 150 g (⅔ cup) caster sugar
  • 50 g cornflour
  • 6 egg yolks

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Resting time: 6 hrs
Chilling time: overnight

1. To make the rough puff pastry, place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add the butter and run a knife through the mixture to coat the butter in the flour. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into flour, slightly squeezing the butter pieces until they are about the size of marbles. Make a well in the centre of the flour. Add the lemon juice to the water, the pour about 180 ml of the water into the well. Squeeze the dough together to form a ball. If it’s a bit too dry, add a little more water until a firm dough is formed. Press the dough into a ball and knead lightly. The dough should feel firm with large marble-sized dots of butter throughout. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

2. Once chilled, lightly dust the pastry with flour and roll into a rectangle about 50 cm x 20 cm. Bring the short ends of the pastry together so the edges meet in the centre and press into place. Fold in half along the centre line to create four layers (the dough will resemble a book). Rewrap and refrigerate again for 20 - 30 minutes, then repeat the rolling and folding steps 3 more times. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours after the final roll.

3. To make the cardamom custard, place the milk, cream, butter, vanilla, cardamom and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and cook until just boiling. Remove from the heat. Combine the cornflour and 125 ml (½ cup) water in a bowl until smooth.

4. Whisk the cornflour mixture into the hot milk mixture, then add the egg yolks. Return to the heat, whisking continuously until the mixture comes to the boil. Cook, whisking, for 30 seconds – 1 minute or until a thick custard forms. Transfer to a bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming. Stand until cool, then refrigerate until ready to use.

5. Cut the pastry in half and reserve one half for another use. Lightly dust the remaining half with flour and roll out into two 27 cm squares. Place on a baking paper lined tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes (see Notes).

6. Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Line a 23 cm square cake tin with 2 sheets of baking paper, leaving the sides overhanging generously. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

7. Place one pastry square on the lined baking tray and prick all over with a fork. (If you’re using storebought pastry do not prick the pastry.)

8. Mix together the pistachios and sugar. Scatter half the pistachio mixture over the pastry sheet, pressing gently to adhere. Top the pastry sheet with baking paper and another baking tray and bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is evenly cooked.

9. Remove the tray and baking paper and return to the oven to cook for another 2 - 5 minutes or until golden. Watch to ensure the sugar doesn’t burn. Cool the pastry completely on a wire rack.

10. Repeat the steps for the second sheet of pastry, making sure to use cold baking trays.

11. Using a large serrated knife, trim the edges of the pastry sheets to fit the base of the lined tin. Place one sheet of pastry into the tin. Pour the custard onto the pastry base, spreading evenly with a spatula. Place the second sheet of pastry on top, with the pistachio crumb facing up. Gently press down into place. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.

12. To serve, lift the slice out of the tin, using the baking paper as a sling. Use a serrated knife to cut into 9 squares. Dust slices generously with icing sugar.

Notes
• For a simpler but equally delicious version, substitute the home-made rough puff with ready-made butter puff pastry. You will need 2 x 200 g sheets.

• This recipe makes double the quantity of rough puff pastry required. Unused pastry can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

• Sandwiching the puff pastry between two oven trays prevents the pastry from puffing up while baking, ensuring a crisp pastry casing.

• This vanilla slice will keep covered in the fridge for up to 3 days.

 

Lead illustration by Billie Justice Thomson. You can follow Ilona on Instagram via @ilonabakes.