Vanilla slice seems to be one of those bakery goodies that's always bought and never made. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to make, though... and how utterly delicious it is when you do. The trick is to make sure the pastry is well baked and a deep golden colour. Also, sandwiching it between two large oven trays means that the pastry isn’t allowed to ‘puff’ while baking, resulting in a wonderfully crisp casing for the luscious custard filling.
- 500 ml (2 cups) milk
- 300 ml pure cream
- 150 g (⅔ cup) caster sugar
- 40 g (⅓ cup) cornflour
- 50 g (⅓ cup) custard powder
- 40 g butter, cubed
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 2 x 24 cm sheets frozen ready-rolled butter puff pastry
- icing sugar, to dust
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.
Chilling time 3 hours
Cooling time 1 hour
Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan-forced). Line a square 24 cm (base measurement) cake tin with two strips of foil, extending it about 10 cm over the sides.
Sift together the cornflour and custard powder into a medium saucepan. Add the sugar and then use a balloon whisk to gradually stir in the milk and then the cream. Place the saucepan over a medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture boils and thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, egg yolks and vanilla bean paste until well combined. Pour into a large bowl, cover the surface of the custard directly with a piece of plastic wrap and set aside to cool (this will take about 1 hour).
Meanwhile, place a sheet of pastry on a large oven tray. Cover with non-stick baking paper and then place another oven tray, the same size as the first, on top to weigh the pastry down. Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is deep golden and crisp. Remove the top tray and then cool the pastry. Repeat with the remaining sheet of pastry.
Place one of the pastry sheets in the lined pan, trimming to fit if necessary. Spread the cooled custard evenly over the pastry in the pan. Top with the remaining pastry sheet, trimming to fit if necessary, and press down gently. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 3 hours or until firm enough to cut.
To serve, dust liberally with icing sugar and cut into 16 portions.
• The vanilla slice will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. Read our interview with her or for hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Tina McLeish.
For more recipes, view our online column, Bakeproof: childhood favourites.