Three vanilla slices
Custard lovers find this old school treat irresistible. It may have originated in France with the millefeuille or in Italy with the millefoglie, both of which mean ‘a thousand layers’ referring to the pastry layers sandwiching the custard. In Australia though, being the classy mongrels we are, we call it a snot block. Weirdly that moniker, used with the deepest affection, doesn’t seem to hurt its image. New Zealand also loves it and has developed a superior, albeit industrial packet version, the Denheath Custard Square to cope with the national appetite for it. Obviously you’re looking for legit egg custard, not the nightmare version I once found thickened somehow to a jellied stiffness and mock cream topped. Erghh.
‘Mel’s Vanilla Slice’ (AUD $6.50) at this cute cafe in a quiet Central Tablelands backwater is house-made and luxurious. The filling is soft yet firm enough to leave teeth marks as you bite into it. There’s no icing but it’s served with a generous blob of clotted cream and a shower of icing sugar. If not for the mention on the menu, with a warning not to ask Mel for the recipe, we’d have missed it. It’s not on the counter with all the good looking cakes and muffins but hiding in the fridge. Seek it out.
Address: 1 Mutton Falls Road, Tarana, NSW. Telephone: +61 2 6337 5858
This hefty mofo is the club sandwich of the vanilla slice world (AUD $8) with an extra layer of super flaky pastry running through the custard filling. The tedium of tackling these things with cutlery may lose out to the desire to keep yourself clean and clear of a pastry shower or a custard bath. The custard isn’t overly sweet which, given the scale of this beast, is a good thing.
Address: Southern Gateway Centre, Princes Highway, Bulli Tops, NSW. Telephone: +61 2 4268 1118
Things might be getting pretty fancy down Culburra way but this old school bakery is keeping it real. We’re talking pies, sausage rolls, lamingtons, neenish tarts and of course a damn fine vanilla slice (AUD $3.50). The pastry is thin and almost biscuit-like and the custard, again, has that satisfying ability to hold teeth marks. The icing is dotted with black seeds suggesting it’s passionfruit but there’s no evidence of the fruit flavour-wise.
Address: 151 Prince Edward Avenue, Culburra Beach, NSW. +61 2 4447 2395