I absolutely adore these things. In France they're called mille feuille meaning 'a thousand leaves' because of all of the layers of pastry. I guess that's where the name for the sonic youth album comes from despite there being tree-grown leaves on the cover, does anyone know? I believe they're sometimes called Napoleons over the Atlantic. They're apparently almost a national dish in Australia along with Lamingtons (something else I hope to make sooner or later in the transatlantic kitchen). They're also pretty quintisentially British I'd say and every bakery has their own, slightly different, version.
We'll be making half of this recipe from the Australian site Spicy Ice Cream. They themselves adapted it from 'Modern Classics 2' by Donna Hay. The version pictured on Spicy Ice Cream looks really nice:
But to me a proper vanilla slice has a beautiful iced top like this stunner from Brown's Bakery in Albert Park, Australia.
You can find some more fantastic images at this, sadly neglected, Australian vanilla slice blog.
I considered having us make the pastry but I know that she's a little short on time and there's enough to do I think so we'll use frozen.
• 1 sheet ready prepared puff pastry, thawed
• Icing sugar, for dusting
• 175 ml milk
• 175 ml single cream
• 30g butter
• 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 65g sugar
• 20g cornflour
• 65 ml (½ cup) water
• 3 egg yolks
1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 (180°C, 350°F). Cut pastry in half. Trim each piece of puff pastry to slightly bigger than the slice tin you are using. Place on baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper. Top each piece with another baking tray as a weight and bake for 35 minutes or until puffed and golden. Cool on racks.
2. To make the custard, place milk, cream and vanilla seeds and vanilla extract in a medium sized saucepan and heat until just before boiling point. Turn off the heat, cover, and allow to infuse for 10-20 minutes.
3. After it is infused, add butter and sugar and cook until hot but not boiling. Mix the cornflour and water to a smooth paste and whisk into the hot milk mixture. Add the egg yolks and stir, allowing to simmer for 6 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
4. Line your slice pan with non-stick baking paper. Place one of the pastry sheets on the bottom, pour in the custard and top with remaining pastry. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until set. Cut into squares using a serrated knife.
5. Ice them and serve!
This adds up to 2600 calories. The number of calories per slice obviously depends on how many bits you cut it into. The linked recipe suggests you make 5 500+ calorie slices but I'll be making them smaller and slightly less calorific.
I'm so excited for these!