Pastry: Golden but texture of a soft biscuit 6.5/10
Presentation: Proportionally sound, excellent glossy icing 8/10
Value for money: $3.80 - Medium portion size, some satisfaction gained 7/10
Overall score: 7/10
Filling: Thicker than expected creamy custard 6.5/10
Pastry: Golden but texture of a soft biscuit 6.5/10
Presentation: Proportionally sound, excellent glossy icing 8/10
Value for money: $3.80 - Medium portion size, some satisfaction gained 7/10
Overall score: 7/10
I pulled up outside Amie in Richmond at 7.30am, heading towards work. I wasn’t sure if they’d have much baked by that time of the morning, but I was pleasantly surprised to see some vanilla slices in the cabinet. I sceptically wondered if they were left overs from yesterday, but I took one just to find out regardless. Unravelling from its paper bag at work a little while later I was met with quick a dense little block. The custard was heavy and much thicker than I was expecting. The pastry allowed for easy pickup and remained rigid enough to consume with my fingers. If this was yesterday’s than it had faired well, but if fresh then the pastry is not baked quite a firmly, with a more biscuity texture than that of a buttery flaky pastry. The custard was firm but not set, creamy but not vanilla flavoured. Not amazing, but not awful either. The icing was the best component; glossy and a great thickness for the proportions of the slice.it provided that added sweetness to a not-so sweet custard. At $3.80 you really can’t complain here, and next time I will endeavour to try one of their banh mi sandwiches too.
Filling: Morish, light and airy vanilla custard 9.5/10
Pastry: Thin, crispy and golden brown 8.5/10
Presentation: Excellent proportions, expertly iced 9/10
Value for money: $4.20 - Medium portion size, surprisingly fresh at 5pm 10/10
Overall score: 9.25/10
This review starts with a story of generosity and a massive thank you. For many years now Simon Sharp, son of Kevin Sharp - the master baker at Sharp’s Bakery in Birchip, has been encouraging me to visit the country Victoria town to sample the best vanilla slice in Australia. With a few tried and failed attempts at reaching Birchip, as well as missing out on sampling a Sharp’s slice at the Mildura 2018 Vanilla Slice Triumph, I was randomly contacted by Simon. He was heading my direction with two freshly baked slices (that morning) and wanted me to have them. I caught up with him at a secret rendezvous point to gladly accept his offering, cementing the deal with a cheeky selfie with my son and a nice chat.
After the short drive home, the vanilla slices had covered approximately 350km from Birchip to Melbourne and were now ready for unpacking and hasty consumption at 5pm!
Neatly packed in a takeaway tub with the Sharp’s logo and reminder of their successes at the GAVS Triumph’s over the years, I took one slice out, cut it in half with a sharp knife and was relieved to still hear a crunch and feel the resistance of the blade passing through. Mrs B took a bite, as did I, and we looked at each other waiting for the first one to speak their opinion. The outcome? Very nice indeed. Considering the grand effort of the slices having even reached me in the same day as being baked, in one piece, with no sogginess in the pastry is not only a miracle, but massively impressive - again, thank you Simon.
The custard, though not fridge cold, was deliciously light, airy, smooth, not overpoweringly sweet and had a subtle undertone of vanilla. We managed to escape with minimal escaped custard, thankful to the perfect consistency and quantity of the filling. The pastry too, considering the odds, still had excellent crunch and rigidity to be picked up. Two wafer thin layers and a mid brown bake ensured notable savoury flavour to the slice. Finally, a delicate layer of perfectly formed icing ensured maximum sugar delivery to our flailing 5pm needs. We were also impressed that we didn’t have any sticky icing finger prints when the goods were scoffed.
So overall, I’m thrilled to have finally ticked Sharp’s off my list. I’d love to actually visit Birchip and have one fresh off the shelf next time. To be honest, there isn’t much difference in the products on sale in Sharp’s and Bridgwater Bakehouse (current winners of the Triumph for the second year running). I’m sure it will only be a matter of time until Sharp’s take out the title again.
Simon, you’re a legend! Thanks to Kevin for the slices too, and good luck at the 2020 GAVST in August.
Filling: Sweet, creamy and deliciously light custard 8/10
Pastry: Delicately thin and beautifully flaky 8.5/10
Presentation: Neatly cut and packaged, average appearance 7.5/10
Value for money: $3.50 - Small/medium portion size, fresh and satisfying 8.5/10
Overall score: 8.1/10
In Dandenong for a trip to a butcher selling all things British for expats like myself and the Mrs, we took out lunch from Dandenong Market. Having never visited before, I have to say that the market is excellent; great range of fresh foods and drinks, great climbing frame for the kids to burn of some steam and a nice atmosphere (certainly less full on than the Queen Vic Market etc).
I took out my vanilla slice from Melina’s, though I could have got one from other nearby bakeries. It came in a see through tub that was almost made to measure and held the item in place beautifully as we navigated through the market to a seat outside.
In picking up the slice I was instantly met with a nice firm resistance from the freshly baked pastry. I was able to pick up and consume it with relative ease as the thin and flaky layers gave way to each bite, and even though the filling was fluffy and light I managed to avoid any loss of custard. The custard itself was a light and airy whipped cream, though not really containing any notable vanilla content. It was still tasty enough and was clearly freshly baked, and for the grand total of $3.50 you cannot really complain at the standard.
Filling: Heavily thickened vanilla custard and strawberry jam 7.5/10
Pastry: Puffy but softer than expected 6/10
Presentation: Roughly cut slab, heavy dusting of sugar 6/10
Value for money: $7 - Extra large portion size but not ‘just baked’ fresh 5/10
Overall score: 6.1/10
Out for the day strawberry picking with the kids on the peninsula, we popped into Flinders for some morning tea before our time in the strawberry fields of Sunny Ridge. Tempted to hit up the “Biggest and best” vanilla slice from Flinders Fish and Chips, I instead turned my attention to Flinders Sourdough, whose bakery I had been in once before, but sadly no vanilla slices that day.
This time around I gladly left with a ginormous slab of their vanilla slice, selling for a higher than average $7. Though not as large as their neighbour’s I was intrigued to work my way through a genuine wood fired pastry.
My first impression of the slice as the discrete layer of jam concealed by the custard on top. The second was the relative ease it was the bend the puffed pastry on top of the slice. It didn’t break away in rigid chunks as I would have expected, but instead was the consistency of ‘baked last night’. The pastry layers were somewhat softer than I’d ha e liked but still tasted delicious. A rich, buttery, salty taste and a good mid to dark brown in colour. The jam turned out to be strawberry flavour (rather fittingly) and was a sweet addition to the heavy, creamy vanilla custard.
I had to eat the slice with a fork as there would have been no way of picking it up without losing my dignity. A worthy addition to the Blog, but next time I might seek a ‘just baked’ alternative.
I had some leftover double cream from the festive season, and armed with plenty of eggs in my fridge I took it upon myself to make some delightful fresh custard. Combining four egg yolks, butter, vanilla bean and full fat milk I made a small batch and let it cool in the fridge until dessert time when the kids were in bed. Having also baked one sheet of store bought puff pastry earlier and cut them into fingers, I served us up the concoction pictured below with a few fresh raspberries. I’d highly recommend the dessert if an elegantly presented, neatly constructed vanilla slice is too much effort.
Filling: Velvety whipped cream custard 7.5/10
Pastry: Slightly softened but nice taste 6/10
Presentation: Miniature, nothing elaborate 6/10
Value for money: $2.20 - Two bites, but two good bites 8/10
Overall score: 6.9/10
This is technically a re-visit, having eaten a La Manna vanilla slice many years ago. Also in Essendon Fields is The Hungry Fox, a sleek cafe that backs on to the runway and has a neat little playground for the kids to entertain themselves in. We stopped by for brunch (which was lovely) and I took away with me a half size vanilla slice at a reasonable $2.20.
Given a large round card container for the tiny slice was a bit comical, but at least the packaging was recyclable. When picked up you can see it’s scale against my hand from the picture below. I also noticed the bottom layer of pastry was a bit on the soft side compared with the one I ate last time. This didn’t prove to be much of an issue and I was still able to consume the two bite slice with relative ease. The custard was pleasant, rich and creamy and a subtle vanilla flavour. The pastry, though not razor sharp and flaky was still a tasty element with the custard and the icing sugar was barely visible when I finally opened the box.
Filling: Average sweetened whipped cream custard 6/10
Pastry: Not fit for purpose, soggy and bendy 3/10
Presentation: Lopsided, rough cut, messy 3/10
Value for money: $6.50 - Tiny slice, stale, overpriced 2/10
Overall score: 3.5/10
Out for the day in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges, I stopped at Mount Dandenong to admire the views. Sadly with the smoke haze there were no views, so instead I ventured into Sky High Cafe for an iced coffee and a cheeky vanilla slice. I’d forgotten to print the voucher that allowed me to buy one, get one free, so I paid $6.50 for just the one hoping that it would be top. I was presented with the tiniest portion in a non-descript paper bag and took it outside to consume.
When I first gripped the bottom layer of pastry it bent to the counters of my fingers and was clearly soggy and stale. The top layer had shed the majority of the icing sugar and looked less affected by the moisture in the filling. The custard immediately squashed and dropped from the pastry sheets when handled and had to be eaten with fingers inside of the paper bag - it really was a messy and unenjoyable episode. The custard turned out to to be nothing more than a sweetened, whipped cream.
It certainly wouldn’t place in a beauty contest, and is certainly not what I’d classify as good value for money (even if purchased as buy one get one free). Shame on Sky High Cafe for selling sub standard vanilla slices at a Sky High price.
Filling: Vast amounts of wonderful eggy custard 9/10
Pastry: Caramelised, dark, buttery sheets, sadly softer than expected 8/10
Presentation: Rustic, and paper wrapped, heavy layer of icing 7.5/10
Value for money: $6 - Extra large sized portion, too big to finish 8/10
Overall score: 8.1/10
With my final day up in far North Queensland we decided to drive north to Port Douglas. I’d read a little while ago about a newly opened bakery cafe opening in town, selling excellent vanilla slices and with links back to Melbourne. I seized the opportunity to branch off with my sleeping daughter in the pram and had a micro-moment to myself. I ordered up and sat alone to devour the items as pictured.
The vanilla slice was gigantic in proportions and weight, a solid mass of dairy and sugar. Selling at $6 this one would be suitable for sharing so proves good value for money, or even eaten in various sittings. I was unsure of the icing at first glance and guessed initially at a passionfruit flavour. My guess proved wrong, and I wasn’t overly keen to discover that piled high on top of the already mammoth slice was a rich butter icing that I just couldn’t stomach with the other components. A light passionfruit icing would have been delightful in my opinion, and sadly the icing was removed and sat obsolete. The custard was tasty, slightly more set than I would have predicted but beautiful in its colour and richness. It contained lots of egg and a creamy vanilla taste that would be welcome in any vanilla slice. The pastry looked and smelt amazing. Just like their other pastries on offer, the colour was a rich and caramelised dark brown. It’s taste divine, but unfortunately lacking the crunch I’d have expected - more than likely made the night before and left to set overnight.
I was impressed with the setup at Grant Street. The staff were super friendly, the coffee very nice and the overall quality of the vanilla slice was very good.
Filling: Fluffy, sticky, overly sweet custard 6/10
Pastry: Top layer crisp, bottom layer soggy 6.5/10
Presentation: Individually paper wrapped, bursting out the sides 7.5/10
Value for money: $6.50 - Sickly sweet, overpriced 5/10
Overall score: 6.25/10
Even from Melbourne my vanilla slice radar had detected the press that the Hungry Hummingbird Cafe were getting for their “Best ever vanilla slice.” Named after a grandma’s secret recipe and sold for a hefty $6.50 a piece, I seized the opportunity to snaffle one up for morning tea at the Smithfield shopping centre. Sitting with my son, he was pleased to generously receive two marshmallows with his soy babyccino whilst I messily devoured the slice.
From the first bite to the last I was quite overwhelmed by the sweetness of the whole thing. The custard was so sweet that it was actually sticky, clinging to the paper wrapping, the plate and pretty much anything that touched it. It had a nice creamy, vanilla taste but it tasted more like custard powder than a freshly whipped up eggy custard - I could be wrong!
The pastry was uniquely different from top to bottom. The top sheet held its flakiness and the bottom was quite the opposite. It was a neatly baked tight layered structure, that again actually tasted a bit sweet, almost caramelised.
I made a complete mess in the short time I was sat at the cafe, my time also short because of the fidget in my company. Not my version of the “Best ever” but well worth ticking off the list.
Filling: Delicious creamy, eggy custard 8.5/10
Pastry: Crisp, buttery and fresh 8.5/10
Presentation: Fondant iced triple-layer, well presented 7.5/10
Value for money: $6-7(estimate) - Large portion, filling and thoroughly delicious 9/10
Overall score: 8.3/10
Out for breakfast with the family after an early start, I’d already eaten breakfast and this was technically a morning tea at only 9am! We chose to revisit a cafe we ate at back in 2013 whilst in Cairns and sat and enjoyed the stunning views of the mountains in trendy Edge Hill. To my surprise the cake cabinet had vanilla slices for sale, so I opted for that rather than a traditional breakfast item. Thankfully I only had a coffee to accompany the slice as it was huge and very filling.
It was presented on a round black slate (first slate I’ve experienced). I topped it on its side and proceeded to use the finger and thumb grip, sliding knife technique to break it into smaller pieces. I was overjoyed to to meet resistance followed by a crunch and shards of pastry breaking apart - Fresh as a daisy! Not only was the pastry fresh, but it was really quite nice; buttery and a good mid brown colour and tightly packed. The custard too was pleasantly good. I wasn’t sure if it would be a generic custard, cream powdered mixture or something else. In actual fact it was a light and fluffy whipped custard with notable vanilla content. The icing on top also showed some good attention to detail, even though the cutting of the slice was not as neat as it could have been. The icing itself was delicately thin and wasn’t overpowering. The chocolate lingered on my taste buds and was a good quality chocolate drizzle for sure.
Returning to Ozmosis was a fantastic idea and proved worthwhile for the whole family, even my daughter (pictured below) enjoyed her almond babyccino, watching the passers by and the views. Mrs B sampled the slice after her breakfast and commended the effort put in to it. Highly recommend all round.
Filling: Fresh whipped cream, set custard and sickly sweet raspberry jam 6.5/10
Pastry: Freshly baked sheets and flakier than anticipated 7.5/10
Presentation: Slightly messy but distinguishable layers 7.5/10
Value for money: $4-5 (estimate) - Medium sized portion, custard and jam lacking 6/10
Overall score: 6.9/10
I’ve always resisted Routley’s in favour of independent bakeries in the past, and my previous employer had their canteen catered for by Routley’s. Having since moved on, and whilst out and about in Newport I felt the urge to taste their custard, cream and jam version of a vanilla slice. Mrs B bought the items, to also include a Christmas slice for herself and a dairy free snack bar for the children to share - totalling $10.
My first observations of my slice was the heavily set appearance of the custard and very biscuity looking layers of pastry that could have been either flaky or dry in their makeup. Upon the first bite, I was rewarded with a neat crunch that also caused some major sliding of layers and the custard and jam soon wanted away from the custard that didn’t want to budge. The custard was indeed heavily set, but not all too bad in its overall taste and creaminess. The fresh whipped cream was the best element and offset the overpowering and synthetic raspberry jam that in my opinion was unnecessary. With such a delicate operation underway, in truth I couldn’t really sample each layer solely on its own, instead opting for large, precise bites to stop the deluge of ingredients falling on the ground. Therefore results are somewhat vague, but I am glad I stopped by and gave Routley’s a go.
Filling: Fresh but gloopy vanilla custard 6.5/10
Pastry: Freshly baked sheets, lacking crunch and richness 6/10
Presentation: Neatly constructed and square cut 7.5/10
Value for money: $3.50-4 (estimate) - Medium sized portion, fresh but too sweet 6/10
Overall score: 6.5/10
Heading to the annual Kilmore Show with the kids, we pulled into the last bakery before our turn off. Kemp’s Bakery sits proudly on the high street with a giant sign stating they bake all products on site daily - great!
Mrs B took out a custard tart and bought me a pink-topped vanilla slice, for a combined $7. With a hefty layer of pink icing on top of pale sheets of pastry and a gloopy looking custard filling, I wasn’t predicting 10/10 for this one. Having said that. The filling was rather nice; fresh, sweet and vanilla flavoured custard - pretty much what you’d want from a bakery staple. The pastry was indeed a bit under baked and though fresh, didn’t offer great resistance from picking up and biting. Somewhat flimsy and lacking crunch the last few mouthfuls were a bit messy with the custard wanting a swift exit from the sandwich. With a moment of in my head “I told you so“, the icing was pink and laced with a raspberry flavour that was just too sweet and synthetic for my palette.
Not the best result overall, but worthy of the pit stop. I forgot to mention that Mrs B hates nutmeg too, which made the custard tart a very bad choice for her morning tea purchase!
Filling: Outstandingly rich but creamy vanilla custard 9/10
Pastry: Triple layered, golden, crunchy and delicious 8.5/10
Presentation: Triple stacked, neatly assembled 8/10
Value for money: $5.50 - Medium sized portion, beautifully fresh, morish 8.5/10
Overall score: 8.5/10
It has taken me three of so months to purchase something from newly opened Sweettopia. Positioned approximately 100 metres from my house, I’ve walked past many times and I’ve snooped at their cakes, never to find a vanilla slice...until now!
So I took home one of their tri-layered slices and picked it up to eat it free style in the comfort of my own home. With the first bite, I recognised the firm, dark brown, crisp, buttery layers of pastry that immediately compressed the lighter than expected dark yellow creamy vanilla custard. Within a few more bites, the custard was everywhere, and I was rescuing evacuated custard from my fingers before it hit the plate. I was pleasantly surprised how good the core ingredients were here. The custard was light, but rich and eggy, full of vanilla flavour and something I would happily whip up in my own kitchen.
Selling for $5.50 and also offering half sized square portions, I will no doubt pop back in for a cheeky one at some point. For the size, I think the price could be a dollar cheaper, but the product itself is very high quality, so no real qualms. All they need to do now is offer dairy free options for my kids and we will have our local favourite bakery.
Filling: An unhealthy amount of heavy whipped cream custard 8/10
Pastry: Hard to spot, not up to task 3/10
Presentation: Unrefined, randomly sized 5/10
Value for money: $7 - High price, high calorie content, potential hospital visit 6.5/10
Overall score: 5.6/10
Already heading out to the eastern suburbs to visit Eastland, I searched for a vanilla slice establishment in the immediate Ringwood area. Sitting comfortably at the top of the Google search was The Burger Moore Cafe, selling their now ‘infamous’ vanilla slices. “Best vanilla slice I’ve ever eaten” I read on their Zomato and Trip Advisor pages, but unfortunately I have to disagree for a few good reasons.
With different shaped portions and two different prices, Mrs B and I bought a traditional ($6.50) and passionfruit ($7.50) slice and sat with the kids happy to play with the indoor selection of toys. We made the mistake of ordering two slices, with one being more than adequate to share in hindsight. Thankfully we had cutlery because trying to eat this thing with your hands would just be the biggest mistake, and potentially unachievable.
The shear volume of cream custard is awesome but the lawyers of pastry were lost in the mix and proved soggy in both slices. With such ratios the pastry really needed to be dark, buttery and flaky, but were instead blonde and required a double fork action to tear through it roughly. The passionfruit icing was rather nice but unworthy of an additional dollar in my opinion.
This is not the first time I’ve been duped by ginormous slices that don’t deliver; Hydroponic Cafe in Mount Martha, Flinders Fish & Chips and now this one. You can supersize for sure, but the components have to be well refined and up to task first. An otherwise nice cafe, friendly staff and decent coffee.
Filling: Heavy pudding-mix style custard 5/10
Pastry: Blonde but thin and crispy 7/10
Presentation: Nothing special 6/10
Value for money: $4 - Average portion size, freshly baked 6.5/10
Overall score: 6.1/10
Out in Croydon for the morning, the family and I stopped on the high street for some morning tea. Naturally, I gravitated towards the bakery nearest and strolled into Jason’s Bakehouse. Selling a traditional and a ‘Granny’ slice, I opted for the more creamy Granny-labelled option pictured below.
Notable from pickup was the freshness of the slice, with the pastry offering excellent firmness to go from bag to mouth with little mess. With the first bite, the pastry was thin and crispy and the custard creamy but also quite heavy in texture. The custard had a pudding mix taste to it, potentially from overuse of custard powder in the mixture. The slice was very straight forward to eat on the go and made little to no mess of my outfit. All together the slice had some merit, selling at a reasonable price for the portion size, clearly freshly baked and not offensive in taste or flavour overall.
Filling: Pale, gelatinous and flavourless ‘custard’ 2.5/10
Pastry: Blonde, slightly better than expected 5/10
Presentation: Little thought offered about presentation 4/10
Value for money: $4 - Average portion size, spend money elsewhere 5/10
Overall score: 4.1/10
Surprisingly this bakery was suggested to me by a vanilla slice hunting novice, so I swung by early one morning to grab a fresh slice off the shelf. Selling at $4 I was presented with a bang average looking, averagely sized, averagely priced product. With that being the case, I wasn’t holding out much hope for the quality of the custard and pastry. I wasn’t disappointed either (because I wasn’t anticipating being rewarded!).
I bit through all layers to discover a very jellied milk custard, somewhat crispier pastry than anticipated but still lacking richness and flake, and a grainy, slightly thick icing. The custard was particularly pale in colour, so no real surprises to taste next to nothing; no creaminess, no egg, and no vanilla. What’s more, it didn’t shift with handling and biting, clearly welded to the pastry sheets surrounding it’s mass. The pastry was quite thick and clumpy, lacking butter content and a crisp flake you get from longer in the oven.
All in all, this slice could have been a lot worse if not freshly baked. However, I certainly won’t be heading back for another.
Filling: Vanilla speckled custard 8/10
Pastry: Beautiful colour, but not fresh 6/10
Presentation: Thoughtfully presented with freeze dried garnishes 8/10
Value for money: $5.50 (estimate) - Small portion, tasty but not super-fresh 5.5/10
Overall score: 6.9/10
In need of some mid morning caffeine I popped into Marci - a cafe a bit further up Glenferrie Road than my previous stops. Selling a variety of baked goods and hearty salads, I ordered what looked devilishly like a vanilla slice, to be told it was actually a passionfruit custard slice. With the same key ingredients in its makeup, I figured I’d eat and review it regardless.
Starting with the price, I spent $9.50 on a small latte and this little slice, so I assume it would have been $5-5.50 on its own. That didn’t seem too steep considering the suburb, the presentation and thought that had gone into its creation and with any luck...freshness. Unfortunately what let this slice down entirely was its freshness. The pastry was presented in dark, golden, buttery layers but had very little bite to them. The final few mouthfuls became a potential custard catastrophe waiting to happen as they wilted and sagged under the pressure. The custard itself was very nicely made, with a rich egg base, heavy cream content and vanilla bean speckles running throughout. The icing too full of flavour, containing a mottled passionfruit and freeze fried berry combo that was extremely tasty with the custard.
I’d be happy to head back and try another one of these fresh from the kitchen, as I don’t feel that this review is a true reflection of a potentially very nice product. Perhaps a re-review in the near future.
Filling: Heavy, buttery custard 6.5/10
Pastry: Unusually buttery, brûléed taste 6/10
Presentation: Neatly arranged in market stall, individually paper wrapped 6/10
Value for money: $4.50 - Medium portion, extremely rich, hard to finish 7/10
Overall score: 6.4/10
With my kids thinking 5am is a sensible wake up time we headed out early to enjoy the morning sun at a nearby market in Maroochydore. I stumbled across some yummy looking treats from a Nambour Bakery, so dually obliged by handing over my $4.50 for one of their vanilla slices. Advertised on their website as selling “unique cakes” I have to agree. There were some unusual options for Mrs B to choose from, including a Cointreau slice and various others I have since forgotten, but I pay particular attention to the uniqueness of their vanilla slice.
Many of my reviews lean towards a lack of butter and richness in slices, but this one had far too much and became very overpowering towards the later bites. The custard wasn’t so much creamy as it was buttery, with only a hint of vanilla and sweetness to mention. The pastry would have probably been outstanding with a lighter whipped creamy custard, but instead got lost. One thing to pick out was the brûlée taste that came from an unknown source. I’m not sure if the pastry has been bruleed somehow, but it certainly was unique and somewhat of a mystery. This turned out to be my last vanilla slice in the Sunshine Coast family break.
Filling: Thick, creamy vanilla custard 7.5/10
Pastry: Three layered, crispy but not form enough 6/10
Presentation: Neatly stacked, individually wrapped and well decorated icing 8.5/10
Value for money: $4.20 - Large portion, numerous looks of envy from passers-by 8/10
Overall score: 7.5/10
The family and I headed out to the famous Eumundi Markets on a beautifully sunny Saturday on the Sunshine Coast. Needing to keep my daughter happy in the push chair I strolled up the high street and stumbled upon the Eumundi Bakehouse. Faced with a stairway entry and no ramp, I lifted her up (with no offers of any help from people watching by the way) and snooped at their cake cabinets.
Selling two versions of a vanilla slice (French and Continental) I opted for the iced Continental. Working my way back through the markets I stopped to eat the slice and had numerous passers-by stare at me, point and some even ask where the vanilla slices were on sale. Nevertheless, I chowed down from within the bag and the experience was quite pleasant overall. Most identifiable was the ratio of pastry to custard and how the pastry needed further reinforcement from being baked longer to become firmer in the triple layer construction. The custard was tasty enough, with some vanilla content evident, but there just wasn’t enough of it in my humble opinion. Even though the day was hot, the icing didn’t weld itself to my fingers thankfully. Great markets too by the way, highly recommend!
Filling: Somewhat slimy, lacking in anything notable 4.5/10
Pastry: Quite puffed in places, crumbly rather than flaky 6/10
Presentation: Not a complex structure, lacking love 5/10
Value for money: $4.20 - Medium portion, filling but not satisfying 5.5/10
Overall score: 5.25/10
Local chain Crust were due a visit for a Snot Blog review so I took away one of their vanilla slices and a chocolate eclair for Mrs B from their Kunda Park store. Admittedly the slice was packaged for the ride back to the holiday house in the car, but even in the display case it still looked patchy and inconsistently dusted. The custard had a noticeable yellow colour, though this was not due to egg content I would later find out. The mixture felt like a creamed vanilla pudding mix, lacking in texture or airiness you get from a good whipped custard. The pastry was fresh at least, but it’s bake was quite blonde, and well puffed compared to a compacted wafer-style thin layer that is easier to pick up and hold. Whilst attempting to pick this up like a sandwich the slice drooped and flopped, causing some close calls with the floor. Mrs B was initially very happy with the aesthetics of the chocolate eclair, but with the first bite realised it was stale. Not great overall.
Filling: Thick vanilla custard and whipped vanilla cream 10/10
Pastry: Buttery, flaky and beautifully baked 10/10
Presentation: Carefully crafted and neatly finished with icing and Belgian chocolate 10/10
Value for money: $6.20 - Large portion, quality ingredients and fulfilling 9/10
Overall score: 9.75/10
My first vanilla slice in over a month saw me head to Dutchy’s Bakehouse, some 1748km from home. Of course I was on holiday in the Sunshine Coast and searched for places nearby to grab one. Dutchy’s popped up on Google and my family and I swung by for morning tea en route to Australia Zoo. We were met with a warm Dutch welcome, offered freshly baked (still warm) ginger biscotti and there was even some chocolate croissant tasters to enjoy prior to even placing our order. My two young children loved the selection of games and activities placed on the tables whilst Mrs B and I washed down our cakes with a coffee.
The actual item in question was not only glamorous to look at, but thoroughly delicious and made with real passion. The pastry was outstanding, delectably thin and golden, flaky to to the bite and coated in finely spread Belgian chocolate to stop the moisture of the custard seeping in. The custard looked claggy for want of a better word but was utterly delicious, it’s texture was smooth, creamy and packed with vanilla, not set as I initially suspected. On top of the custard lay a hefty layer of beautifully whipped, fresh vanilla cream. The glossy, white icing contained yet more Belgian chocolate that added a beautiful bitterness against the sweetness of the other ingredients.
The pastry chef came out to chat with us further and the chefs wife also stopped to ensure we had a good experience. Mrs B thoroughly enjoyed her buttery chocolate croissant and the coffees too were top notch. An awesome bakery, lovely staff and quality products on offer. Potentially pricey for some, but I personally don’t mind paying a little more for quality.
Filling: Thick, creamy custard 6.5/10
Pastry: Great colour, but dry as a bone 4/10
Presentation: Last one on the tray, hard to tell 6/10
Value for money: $4 - Large portion, impossible to finish 5.5/10
Overall score: 5.5/10
With only a short window of time to find something to eat and drink for an on-the-go lunch, I had already smashed a curry pie and a latte prior to spotting this little bakery in Northcote Central. In truth, I really didn’t have room for this large portion of French vanilla slice, but I sampled it to keep the Blog ticking over. Taking out the last slice on the tray, the ‘French’ variety had sold out much faster than its thicker, darker-custard cousin next door. Happy with my choice, I took a closer look and thought the signs were positive with what was presented in front of me. My optimism soon turned to scepticism when I took my first bite of all of the layers, to reveal a very dry pastry. Clearly lacking butter content, it’s texture resembled more of a cracker than a buttery flaky pastry. The custard was nice and creamy, with some firmness to it, but lacked vanilla flavour overall. Being so full, I really didn’t need to take this whole thing down, and settled for a bit more custard prior to throwing the rest away. In hindsight, one of these $4 portions would have made do for lunch!
Filling: unpredictably good vanilla custard 8/10
Pastry: Incredibly flaky, like a short bread 7/10
Presentation: Well assembled, nothing flash 7/10
Value for money: $3.70 - Medium portion, good sugar hit 8.5/10
Overall score: 7.6/10
I found myself in a part of Melbourne I’d not been before so thought it wise to stop at a bakery in the neighbourhood. You know, it’s quite refreshing to pay for a vanilla slice with a five dollar note and receive a handful of change these days. I sat outside the bakery and smashed this one in less than a minute. I was equally as surprised by the quality of the item. Dark, flaky, almost short bread-like pastry that crumbled and broke off in rich shards of sugary goodness. A sweet, vanilla cream custard filling and messy fingers to follow. A slightly more compacted pastry would have been beneficial for picking up and chomping through, but for the most part a recommendation for anyone that is driving past and only has a pocket full of change.
Filling: Fluffy, but bland cream custard 5/10
Pastry: Puffed and crunchy 7/10
Presentation: Well assembled, neatly encased in foil 7.5/10
Value for money: $5.90 - Medium/large portion, large price 4/10
Overall score: 5.9/10
Sharing a neighbourhood with Aviv Bakery, I opted for a bakery I’d not tried before, just down the road in Elsternwick. I popped into Benjamin’s and took out a beef and red wine pie and neatly presented triple stacked vanilla slice. Having burnt the roof of my mouth on the scolding hot pie filling, I needed to cool the burn with custard. Breaking the slice into two horizontally, I picked it up and consumed it in two smaller servings. I instantly noticed some crunchy pastry and this allowed for easy slice manipulation. Though crunchy, the pastry lacked depth of flavour and richness, as did the custard. More of a whipped cream with a hint of custard powder, it was light and fluffy, but not a deep, luxurious custard. Selling at Patisserie prices, but pieced together with standard bakery components, next time I might return to Aviv’s when in the area.
Filling: Thick, yellow and overly sweet custard 4/10
Pastry: Lacking a crunch 5/10
Presentation: Well assembled, good proportions, thick icing 7.5/10
Value for money: $3.70 - Medium/large portion, cheap price, not on pint 6/10
Overall score: 5.6/10
Missing the turnoff for The French Lettuce for a cheeky revisit, I stumbled across Angelo Pasticceria a few blocks north instead. Selling a range of authentic Italian items and a handful of Australian baked goods I was pleased to see a half decent looking vanilla slice. Handing over a five dollar note and receiving $1.30 in return, I was satisfied with the price of my selected item. Standing in a nearly cut square cuboid shape with a thickish white icing atop, the proportions looked encouraging and the pastry thin and crispy looking. The custard was definitively yellow in colour and looked thick and claggy for want of a better term. In terms of taste and texture, it’s safe to note that the pastry was not flaky or crunchy, but potentially soft due to being slightly stale. The custard was completely tasteless other than unnecessarily sweet. No vanilla, no creaminess, no egg. Nothing. I enjoyed the texture of the icing, but due to the sweetness of the custard, it was actually redundant. Next...
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