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
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...
Filling: Typical bakers custard 6/10
Pastry: Thick and starting to go soft 3.5/10
Presentation: Some inconsistencies but nicely iced 6/10
Value for money: $3 - Average portion, cheap price, passable 6/10
Overall score: 5.4/10
Heading to Healesville for a sunny day out at the sanctuary, A half way pit stop was required for morning tea. I dived into Madeleine’s Bakery and left with a seldom seen $3 vanilla slice. An average sized portion, consisting of two hefty slabs of tightly packed puff pastry, uneven in colour, but satisfactorily keeping at bay a decent stack of somewhat set custard. Starting with the positives; the custard had a nice creamy taste to it, nothing too surprising but pleasant enough. The icing was probably the best component; thin, glossy and a delivering nice amount of sweetness. The pastry looked like it might have been flaky and buttery, but sadly it was bland and starting to go soggy from the moisture. Potentially a day old? I didn’t feel too disgruntled, having only parted with $3. I chowed down in a few short bites, before the kids in the back started asking questions of “where’s mine?”.
Filling: Rubbery yellow custard 4.5/10
Pastry: Tightly packed thin layers with some crispness 5.5/10
Presentation: Dubiously set, bulging filling 3/10
Value for money: $unknown - Medium portion size, day old so not fully consumed 5/10
Overall score: 4.5/10
Mid afternoon on the Tuesday after the long weekend, my colleague informs me of a gift that he’d forgotten to give me earlier. From the cupboard and not the fridge he pulls out a brown paper bag with vanilla slice held within. He had picked it up yesterday heading home from Mount Buller, and had brought the slice in and left it in the cupboard! As not to seem rude, but slightly concerned about a potential upset stomach from its lack of refrigeration, I delicately plunged a finger into the rubbery filling that revealed itself to be pulled apart in chunks. I also endeavoured to nibble at the edge of the slice as to sample some of the pastry with the custard. Though a day old and unrefrierated for 6 or so hours, the pastry still had some life left in it, proving to be slightly crispy and clearly unaffected by moisture due to the solidified texture of the custard filling. Though this review might not be 100% accurate due to the nature of my tasting and unknown price,, one can deduce that the pastry when fresh probably would have been pretty decent, the custard not so much.
Filling: Smooth, fluffy, sweet vanilla custard 8/10
Pastry: Thin and crispy but could be baked darker 7.5/10
Presentation: Glossy white icing on a large rectangular slab 8/10
Value for money: $4 (estimate) - Hefty portion, freshly baked and very gratifying 9/10
Overall score: 8.1/10
I visited Tony’s Pies for one of their vanilla slices over four years ago, back in January 2015, with the original review found here:
Out and about with both kids in the pram needing naps, a quick on-the-go lunch was required. Walking past Tony’s Pies, I was sold on a bakery lunch. My usual curried steak and vanilla slice combo set me back a reasonable $9.50 and I sat in the sun and devoured the goods promptly. The curried steak pie was excellent, not a salty as other bakeries and containing sultanas which gave the mixture a really nice sweetness.
This time around I took out one of their white iced vanilla slice, though it should be mentioned that they still sell the mysterious brown icing slice I tasted those years ago. The slice was notably fresh, with thinly layered pastry that had excellent crunch and firmness when picked up. A little more colour on the pastry would have given it slightly more salty undertones against the rich, creamy filling. The filling was, as mentioned smooth, fluffy and very rich. A very creamy vanilla custard, better than a lot of competitors no doubt, but not eggy like traditional custard. The white icing was thinly spread and wasn’t soft, meaning I had little cleanup work to do upon finishing. On the whole, a very good slice, potentially just a little too sweet and rich, missing some savoury notes from the pastry. Well worth the revisit.
Filling: Bland whipped cream 3.5/10
Pastry: Puffed but dry as a bone 4/10
Presentation: Piled high, but unrefined 5/10
Value for money: $5 - Hefty portion, hefty price, throwaway job 3/10
Overall score: 3.9/10
Stopping in Werribee town centre for a bite to eat prior to visiting the Open Range Zoo, I popped into what I thought would be a French themed Patisserie, only to discover a low key, pretty drab Aussie/Vietnamese bakery. Displayed rather appertisingly in the cake cabinet was three vanilla slice offerings, all sized large. The traditional vanilla slice had a thick layer of poor quality looking icing, the French vanilla included a layer of bright white whipped cream and this ‘custilla’ slice seemed the best of a bad bunch. It’s only when I uncovered it from its bag I saw the actual colour of the filling and the predictably dry boards of dark pastry with much of the sugar now removed. Failing to take a cross sectional bite, it opted for breaking the slice in half through the filling and eating It like an open sandwich instead. After a few bites I had already made the decision not to eat the other half, with utter disappointment that the filling was nothing more than a bland whipped cream mix that was lacking vanilla, sweetness or any notable flavour. The pastry too was abnormally thick and sucked all of the moisture out of my mouth with each bite. Following the disposal of the redundant second half I downed a pint of water to get some moisture back in my body!
Filling: Oozing, airy vanilla custard 7.5/10
Pastry: Partially firm, quite biscuity 7/10
Presentation: Nothing flash, lightly dusted 6/10
Value for money: $5.50 - Reasonably priced overall 8/10
Overall score: 7.4/10
Originally visiting Danish Nosh in December 2018, I reviewed the vanilla slice at 4.15/10, mostly due to the two features circled in the far right image (1. fatty, uncooked pastry, 2. Smooshed custard poorly presented). Management reached out and felt I return to try again, so I did.
Thankfully, this time the vanilla slice I received was much fresher and a damn sight better looking. With only two slices left by mid afternoon, they clearly sell what they bake, so chances of a stale one seem lower for Joe Average popping by on a whim. The slice now sells at $5.50 (originally $4 on my first visit), though I don’t mind paying a little more for a quality product. One would assume that the slice is the same size as before and made of the same ingredients, but it looks like quality control has improved, to coincide with the cost increase perhaps.
This time round the pastry was a much darker colour and firmer texture. It’s hardness caused significant amounts of custard to erupt from the sides when chomped. The custard was still tasty, like previously, but much fresher this time.
I’m pleased I returned. Hopefully the owners are satisfied that I’m not looking to tarnish people’s reputations, but merely make note of my experiences for the everyday vanilla slice consumer doing the rounds.
Filling: Better than expected vanilla custard 7/10
Pastry: Probably once flaky, but somewhat soggy 5/10
Presentation: ‘Hand finished’ swirls, proportionally sound 7/10
Value for money: $4.50 for two - Not bad if there’s no other alternative 7.5/10
Overall score: 6.6/10
Suffering with my first winter illness, I wasn’t able to venture too far from home. With a planned trip to a local pharmacy for cold and flu meds, I swung by Woolworths and noticed the vanilla slices on offer at $4.50 for a box of two (normally $5). Compelled to try, I purchased and took home. Only after taking out the first slice, I read the packaging which described that the slices are frozen from fresh and later thawed. This explained by the first slice was still frozen and pretty tough to get through. Upon eating the second slice I allowed it to sit at room temperature for 30 mins, this time with much better results!
I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the ingredients and the custard was surprisingly smooth, creamy and vanilla flavoured. When frozen it was like a vanilla ice cream, but when thawed out it oozed everywhere when bitten. The ooze effect was also due to the softened pastry, having defrosted and become slightly soggy. I can imagine that these layers would have been pretty good when freshly baked; a golden brown colour, thin and flaky.
The only element I didn’t really enjoy was the icing; quite soft and grainy, though the dark chocolate swirls were a rather nice touch.
Filling: Vanilla speckled creme patissiere 9/10
Pastry: Outstandingly created and decadent 10/10
Presentation: Artisan with fancy brûlée pattern 9/10
Value for money: $6.50 (estimate) - Totally worth every cent 10/10
Overall score: 9.5/10
I walked past Ned’s heading towards my lunch spot and was tempted. I stopped at Ned’s walking back to the car, and the family and I sat cozily on the busy street and devoured our spot of afternoon tea. Two coffees, a babycino, my vanilla slice and a vegan brownie for Mrs B totalled $21, so I estimated the fancy Mille-feuille slice to be somewhere in the $6/7 bracket. Pricey yes, but a high end Patisserie in a swanky neighbourhood normally command this price tag. That’s not to say that you always get value for money, but this time I most certainly did.
Presented using some tried and tested bakers techniques, including the piped domes of custard, this thing looked classy from the get go. The pastry looked divine; devilishly buttery, dark brown and tightly compacted...and it was. Some of the finest pastry I’ve eaten. I would snack on shards of this stuff on its own if it was for sale. The top layer even more delicious with the burnt sugar topping that made the whole thing taste of rich caramel. The custard too was excellent, and actually quite subtle in its flavour. Though boasting the black speckled vanilla bean it wasn’t overly sweet and had a velvety creaminess and hint of egg. The balance of the slice was excellent and ticked all of the sweet and savoury components, and proved quite tricky, but pleasurable to eat.
Filling: Suprisingly good vanilla custard 7.5/10
Pastry: Rich, multi-layered, crumbly and flaky 8.5/10
Presentation: Unusually all one coloured, pastry flaked decoration on top 6/10
Value for money: $5.50 - Big price tag but big on flavour 7/10
Overall score: 7.25/10
In an unknown part of Melbourne I was eager to stop for a crafty vanilla slice at a bakery. With a few along the main high street if Balaclava, I settled for Baker in the Rye, specialising in traditional European breads, cakes and pastries. At $5.50 the Napoleon slice was tricky to predict, with the custard and the pastry looking decidedly similar in colour. With no icing or dusted sugar on top, the slice was instead decorated with tiny crumbs of flaked pastry. When picked up for the first time, the top layer was supringly soft, revealing itself to be the custard with a small amount of the pastry dust on top. The remaining 4 or 5 layers of pastry were flaky and had a good crunch to them, and very delicate in their construction. Sandwiched in between was actual custard, not just cream. The custard had a good sweetness to offset all of the more savoury pastry, with more than a hint of vanilla. Clearly a traditional recipe and method of presentation, seldom seen on my hunt. Quite honestly more fulfilling than I initially expected, but potentially a dollar too expensive.
Filling: Pretty average custard 5.5/10
Pastry: Better than expected but not freshly baked 6/10
Presentation: Slightly dishevelled, not a looker 4/10
Value for money: $4 - Resonably priced but not great 6/10
Overall score: 5.4/10
In need of a caffeine hit and some sugar for morning tea at the neighbouring Queens Park, Mrs B went on a mission to grab me a latte and a vanilla slice “if it looked good”. I stayed at the park pushing my boy on the swings, and saw her return shortly after with the goods and the pram containing his sister. In a brown paper bag stowed below the pram, I took the slice out and was met with the image below. Potentially a rough ride into the park, or perhaps not a looker from the start, I picked up the specimen and chomped my way through. With slightly crunchier than expected pastry I was pleasantly surprised that they didn’t bend with sogginess and staleness, as predicted. Though not super flaky, they did offer some resistance and had some character. The custard too was OK; a thick, almost powdered consistency with a definite vanilla aftertaste but nothing too flash or noteworthy. I question the ratio of custard to pastry here, perhaps a square shaped, thicker slice would be more aesthetically pleasing than the slim rectangular effort.
Filling: Heavily set, flavourless custard 4/10
Pastry: Soggy, bendy layers 3/10
Presentation: Rectangular, glossy white icing 5.5/10
Value for money: $5 - Overpriced, poor quality product 4/10
Overall score: 4.1/10
Stopping at San Remo to catch the pelican feeding, I indulged in a vanilla slice to snack on as I walked. It proved to be quite a disappointment. Compatrible in characteristics to a Ferguson Plarre slice, though not as tasty, it was let down by lacklustre pastry and heavily set custard. It was most likely baked the day before as the sheets of pastry had become soft and flexible when picked up. The custard too barely moved, and in fact aided the slice from falling to pieces like an adhesive. It also lacked notable vanilla content, creaminess and of course, a terrible texture. The icing was the best element, but icing alone cannot be enough to win me over. If only I was allowed to feed the pelicans with my unwanted slice, I wouldn’t have had to throw it in the bin. Interesting to note that San Remo Bakehouse offer discounted “yesterday’s bread”, but clearly not the case with their other products.
Filling: Oozy creamy custard 7.5/10
Pastry: Thin, fresh but not mind blowing 6/10
Presentation: Squarely cut and dusted with good proportions 7.5/10
Value for money: $4 - Good price to fulfilment ratio 8/10
Overall score: 7.25/10
With a trip out to the country came and opportunity to grab lunch on the go from Marysville Bakery. With the town seemingly to myself on a quiet morning I breezed in, ordered and disappeared in a flash. Selling at $4 a pop the vanilla slices looked pretty good in their takeaway boxes, with a fresh, fluffy custard most notable. In my first bite I inhaled some sugar which brought about a coughing fit, but I pushed through and ate the slice in no time. The pastry gave me reassurance of freshness, with a nice crunch with each bite, though the actual flavour and richness was not as good as it could have been. The custard was probably the best element; with a smooth, creamy and light consistency that oozed out of the sides with each bite. I narrowly avoided a custard spillage, successfully transporting all contents into my mouth with military precision. Not a bad stop, great curry pie is also worth noting.
Filling: Smooth and creamy, eggy semolina custard 9/10
Pastry: Fine layers of syrup soaked filo pastry 8/10
Presentation: Simplistic but appertising 7/10
Value for money: $0 - Free at a party, but I’d buy one for sure N/A
Overall score: 8/10
An interesting Greek twist on a vanilla slice that was a desert at a friends daughter’s birthday party. Similar in concept to baklava, but with baked semolina custard filling, the pastry element is filo soaked in honey or syrup. A rich golden colour and wafer thin, it had more than a hint of cinnamon and was delicious. The custard too was really tasty; full of egg, a hint of vanilla and a slight semolina texture, also allowing it to remain rigid enough to be cut and portioned. With only the two elements to concentrate on I took out two slices of this and would go back for more if I could. Better than birthday cake for sure! Not quite a vanilla slice as we know it, but effectively the same elements.
Filling: Gelatinous and near flavourless 2.5/10
Pastry: Thick, hard and inedible 0.5/10
Presentation: Worryingly pale and heavily iced 3/10
Value for money: $3.80 - Not expensive but total waste of money 2/10
Overall score: 2/10
I was duped into buying this vanilla slice with only limited visibility of the shelf it sat on in Edgar’s Road Bakery Cafe. Had I seen the anemic pastry and set yellow custard it would have been a ‘walk slowly backwards and exit out the store’ moment. So when I unraveled the packaging in my car and took one look out of this thing, I knew it was going to be awful. I tentatively took a small bite from a corner, to discover that I wouldn’t attempt to even consume the ‘pastry’. Thick and uncompromising layers, they tasted somewhat like cardboard - totally disgusting. The custard was scraped out with a fork I had in the glove box and was just the right side of terrible. With the pastry out of action I too ignored the slab of icing on top, seeing no need to indulge in a kilo of sugar unnecessarily. I’m pretty sure that even the one in the school canteen tastes better than this one. Never again will I buy something I cannot fully see; lesson learned.
Filling: Crusty round the edge, slightly set generic mix 3.5/10
Pastry: Underbaked and lacking crunch 3/10
Presentation: Pretty standard rectangular effort 6/10
Value for money: $4 - Average portion size, not one to have again 4/10
Overall score: 4.1/10
A short pit stop on the way home from the park uncovered a new (or old) milk bar down Hoffman’s Road. My son and I sat down, he enjoyed his icy pole whilst I got a vanilla slice brought over to snack on.
The discolouration of the filling around some of the edges was evident upon close inspection, plus some layers of pastry that still looked a bit raw. Indeed this was the case when bitten. The filling was nothing more than a standard pudding mix that had been set with a hefty dose of gelling agent, clearly not freshly assembled due to the crusty and darker shade of mix around the edges. The pastry too was weak, very blonde in colour, lacking butter, richness and translucent in patches.
Though the components themselves weren’t great the overall taste wasn’t too bad, with a nice sweetness to finish from the half decent icing. Nevertheless, I didn’t finish the slice and left the crusty, unbaked areas on the plate upon exiting.
Filling: Serviceable vanilla custard 7/10
Pastry: Tightly compacted, somewhat dry 6/10
Presentation: Solid effort, professionally presented 8.5/10
Value for money: $4 - Average portion size, a cheeky surprise 8/10
Overall score: 7.8/10
Friday night, an hour to kill in Hawthorn after work, what else better to do than grab a burger and a vanilla slice from Glenferrie Road? Having never ventured into Picasso’s Cafe before, I wasn’t aware that they sold so much freshly made food, I naively assumed they were a pizza shop. I optimistically ordered two and sat down with my colleague Custard J, for us to both devour in house.
Served with a dusting of icing sugar and wrapped cutlery, I was satisfied with the initial quality of the product for a reasonable $4. J attempted a few cutting techniques with no luck, until I showed him the 90 degree rotate, tong grip, knife slide, tried and tested method I’ve come to adopt with utensils. Cutting into small pieces, it was immediately evident that the pasty was fresh, but exceptionally tough. Baked in tightly compacted dark brown layers, the texture proved quite dry instead of rich and flaky, potentially lacking butter content. The custard had a dark yellow colour and looked appertising, until the first cut revealed a more set texture than anticipated. Though creamy, sweet and flavoured with vanilla the custard lacked a bit of ooze when cut.
The real suprise came from the seemingly traditionally constructed icing, with white, glossy fondant drizzled with chocolate. Wrong. Coffee to be precise. A sweet, quite intense coffee flavour finished each mouthful, like a tiny shot of espresso, rather refreshing and completely unexpected.
A debut critique from J in the company of a connoisseur, with some shared satisfaction from a reasonably well executed slice.
Filling: An unhealthy amount of vanilla cream custard 6/10
Pastry: Risen and puffed, golden layers of crumbly, messy pastry 6/10
Presentation: Rough, ready and rustic 5.5/10
Value for money: $7 (estimate) - double size portion, too much for one serve 5/10
Overall score: 5.6/10
It’s easy not to be seduced by the homemade appeal of this Goliath vanilla slice in Mount Martha. Undoubtedly the largest slab I’ve encountered in my time doing the blog, this thing sat unpredictably on my plate for a good few minutes prior to me beginning its deconstruction. With a few items to compare scale in the pictures, including my boy’s actual 1:1 scale London bus, you can clearly see the scale of the task. Easily enough for two, maybe three cake enthusiasts, it’s a shame my son is dairy intolerant as I might have let him loose on my leftovers here.
I’ve noticed that most of the slices I’ve eaten down the peninsula are larger than average, with successes occurring at Just Fine Food, Mount Martha Fine Foods and Baked in Sorrento. Sadly, this one did not follow suit in the pursuit of greatness. Though impressive in its construction and somewhat rare to see homemade puff pastry puffed to this extreme, the two layers on their own probably scaled 60mm. Thrown in between these sheets must have been a at least 500ml of whipped cream, sweetened and flavoured with vanilla. The sheer amount of ingredients almost killed me, and I had to stop with a third of the slice remaining.
The pastry seemed fresh, extremely crumbly and messy, and quite light due to its level of puff. It clearly contained butter in the mix and a golden brown baked colour was instantly identifiable. The filling is what let the slice down. Normally I crave more, but this was just too much. I must admit, it was fun demolishing it with a fork!
Filling: Heavily set vanilla custard mix 5.5/10
Pastry: Neatly puffed but lacking a buttery richness 6/10
Presentation: Neat, almost perfectly cube shaped, lightly dusted 7.5/10
Value for money: $1.70 - Small sized portion, not left wanting more 6/10
Overall score: 6.2/10
With only a handful of bakeries to choose from in the immediate area, I opted for a pit stop in Fawkner. I’ve never been to Bonwick Street, in fact I never knew the village existed. A half decent little parade of shops, with some trendy cafes and a few bakeries, I’m sure I will pop back at some point for another vanilla slice from a nearby competitor. I was drawn into the Italian Pasticceria offering a huge array of creatively presented sweet goods. With only a vanilla slice in mind I had to ignore such items and paid the friendly lady a very small $1.70 in exchange for a very small vanilla slice. As it turned out, I’m pleased this wasn’t a door step- seized slice selling at $6, as you will read.
Firstly, the custard was a complete red herring; appearing creamy and rich, in fact it was nothing more than a vanilla flavoured powder mix set with copious amounts of gelatine or equivalent thickening agent. It felt rubberised and was not overly pleasant in texture. The pastry too looked very appertising upon inspection; obvious layers of puffed flaky pastry and a good dark brown colour. In truth, this was partly the case, but the pastry proved somewhat dry and lacking a buttery richness that results in a beautiful crunch and flake. Fresh at least.
With little else to comment on, one can only really say that the size portion is a good for a nibble and very reasonably priced, but unfortunately the quality of the item wasn’t outstanding.
Filling: Fresh, cream-based custard 7.5/10
Pastry: Nicely puffed with crunch 7.5/10
Presentation: Creatively iced, otherwise neatly assembled 7.5/10
Value for money: $4.50 - Medium sized portion, half decent 7/10
Overall score: 7.4/10
With stuff to do out in nearby Thomastown, I drove past Athena in Epping and decided to pull over for a mid morning pick-me-up. In a quiet shopping strip, Athena stood out with their bold signage and queue out the door...
Selling at an average $4.50, I predictably took out one of their vanilla slices. With a 50/50 hunch that this may be stale I bravely picked the item up and tentatively took a bite. Greeting me with a noisy crunch the pastry was fresh and flaky...thank god! The pastry was in fact quite good; thinly layered, but crunchy and flaky when bitten. It allowed for seamless custard consumption, with little spillage to note. The custard, was mostly cream, with a hint of vanilla and some kind of additive powder. It was fresh, light and slightly better than average. The icing seemed to be a bit of an afterthought; heavy, grainy and loaded with thick lines of bog-standard chocolate. Sadly this left a somewhat cheap and distracting aftertaste in my mouth.
Athena should know (being all wise and inspiring) that the quality of ingredients is the most important thing when it comes to quality products such as the humble vanilla slice. I’m glad I stopped, but definitely room for improvement.
Filling: Light, fluffy and very serviceable whipped custard 7.5/10
Pastry: Fresh, crisp and dark brown, crumbly and messy to eat 8.5/10
Presentation: Though battered in the bag, proportially sound 7.5/10
Value for money: $3.50 - Medium / large portion and a good return 9/10
Overall score: 8/10
In a new pocket of Williamstown I had never ventured before, I stumbled upon this Aussie-Vietnamese bakery selling some pretty awesome looking vanilla slices. Large in size and hefty in thick white icing I opted for the more sophisticated French variety sat next door. With a clear bright red layer of jam inside I was eager to see what I’d got when I opened the bag. Sadly she didn’t fair too well in her short trip from counter to car and had lost the majority of the icing sugar and neatness from the display cabinet. Nevertheless, I chowed down outside of my car (thankfully) and enjoyed what I tasted, the pastry was excellent; baked fresh on a Sunday and dropping shards all over the floor made me grateful for not being sat in the car still. The filling was pleasently creamy, light and with a hint of vanilla. The jam in truth wasn’t required in this ensemble and I felt it slightly overpowering in an already sweet offering. It tasted like a cheap strawberry jam, not an upmarket, sophisticated preserve like I’m used to! A great little find.
Filling: Tasteless, piped ‘custard’ 2/10
Pastry: Sublime, biscuity and puffed 10/10
Presentation: Authentically Italian, somewhat rustic 6/10
Value for money: $2.50 - Small portion, a tale of two extremes 5/10
Overall score: 5.75/10
With a name like Pastry Paradise I was slightly sceptical of what I might find here in the weird and wonderful world of custard based pastries. Nevertheless I saw what I came for (the Italian Vanilla Slice - Milfolglie) in their rather eye catching window display and headed swiftly in. Taking out a half sized square shaped portion for $2.50, I headed back to the car and devoured. Needing to half the portion by departing the layers I held mini portions in my hand and instantly noticed the biscuit like crunch of the pastry. It’s uncommon to get pastry this good in most bakeries, so I really savoured this. The butter content must have been high as it was so crisp, puffed and golden. Truly wonderful! Quite reversely, the poor excuse for custard left me questioning where it all went wrong. Had this been a rich, eggy, vanilla custard adhering the heavenly layers of flaked goodness together the outcome would have been quite different. Sadly, this was not the case.
Filling: Thick, stodgy and lacking flavour 5/10
Pastry: Nicely flaked layers but not fresh and crunchy 4/10
Presentation: Enticing but deceptive 7.5/10
Value for money: $3.50 - Medium portion but disappointing overall 5/10
Overall score: 5.4/10
The last time I drove up Derby Street six months or so ago, the Hot Bread Bakery had disappeared. Miraculously, this time round it’s reopened with a nice new shop refit and name. I was pretty optimistic when I saw the vanilla slices in the cabinet; tall in stature, flaky brown layers of pastry, a healthy dusting of icing sugar and a rich, eggy looking custard.
My optimism was soon met with the reality that looks can indeed be deceiving. A harsh truth, that I have experienced innumerable times. The pastry might well have been a dark brown colour and flaking all over the place, but fresh it was not. Potentially a day old and beginning to go soft, it was a real let down. The custard too proved disappointing, with a severe lack of creaminess, vanilla content and fluffiness. Instead it was quite dense, stodgy and slightly powdery in taste. A real shame, as proportionally the ratios were excellent and priced at what I thought was reasonable for the sized portion (had it been fresh!)
Filling: Light and airy custard 6/10
Pastry: Well puffed but slightly under baked 5/10
Presentation: Tri-layer, tall and generous proportions 7/10
Value for money: $4.30 - Medium/large portion but not memorable 6/10
Overall score: 6/10
For Snot Blog consumption today I visited and left with a Melissa Cakes tri-layer vanilla slice. Impressed with the size, proportions and cost of this one, I unwrapped the thin foil and attempted a cut with a takeaway fork....with no luck. I was met with some resistance, but the pastry was quite puffed and not tightly baked. Instead I cut through the middle and ate the thing as two mini vanilla slices (one with the sugar on top). The pastry as mentioned was not the flakiest, I put this down to the lack of butter in the mix and the bake time in the oven. The custard was satisfactory; light, airy, fresh and with some vanilla, though not anything out of the ordinary. Had this come as a two layer slice I might not have been as forthcoming with my appraisal, but at least Melissa’s gives you a fair chunk of product for your money.
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