Pastry: Tight layers, not baked golden brown, not freshly baked 5/10
Presentation: Average Bakery effort, glossy white icing 6/10
Value for money: $2.50 - 2 for $5 but not fresh 7/10
Overall score: 5.9/10
Filling: Sweet, slightly set vanilla custard 5.5/10
Pastry: Tight layers, not baked golden brown, not freshly baked 5/10
Presentation: Average Bakery effort, glossy white icing 6/10
Value for money: $2.50 - 2 for $5 but not fresh 7/10
Overall score: 5.9/10
With the rain pouring down, a rumbling stomach and a parking space right outside Ferguson Plare on Puckle Street, I could think of nothing better than a butter chicken pie for lunch. With no intention of purchasing a vanilla slice (I’ve had numerous from this chain before) I was sadly duped into their promotion of 2 for $5. Whilst this sounds promising, the slices themsleves turned out to be past their best let’s say. I have to say that the custard was better than the last slice I had from here, slightly less rubbery and a lot more tasty with vanilla. The icing was the highlight; glossy and sticky on the fingers. Sadly, the pastry proved a means of merely picking up the custard and icing, little else. Awesome pie, however.
Filling: Bog standard whipped cream powdered mix 5/10
Pastry: Tightly puffed and golden, sadly stale 5/10
Presentation: Average dusted effort, individually acetate wrapped 6/10
Value for money: $6 (estimate) - overpriced and yesterday’s 4/10
Overall score: 5/10
Stopping for lunch in a shopping centre is always a risky business, so I picked what I thought looked to be most up my street. I took out a slow cooked pulled beef focaccia, a small latte and a vanilla slice for a combined and somewhat hefty $21.50 from Espresso Room (ironically named considering its just a counter in a food court). Not massively impressed by my toasted sandwich or the quality of the coffee, I ended lunch by peeling away the acetate and chomping the vanilla slice freestyle. Instantly noticing the stale pastry and the tangy and very uninspiring custard powdered mixed whipped cream, I grudgingly continued to eat the slice until there was none left. Had this thing been fresh the pastry would have been half decent. However, the custard just was lacklustre and lacking vanilla flavour. Next time I will try so,where else.
Filling: Loose, creamy custard. Lacking vanilla content 6/10
Pastry: Superb, rich, biscuity golden flaked layers 10/10
Presentation: Artisan by name. Artisan by nature 8/10
Value for money: $5 (estimate) - some real highlights, decent price and size 8/10
Overall score: 8/10
I popped by this little French inspired bakery three or four years with no success of a vanilla slice. Today I wasn’t even intending to call in, but found myself in the area, and with no expectations I left with the last vanilla slice and Mrs B a jam donut (for a reasonable $9). I wasn’t sure it would survive the journey home; first in the pram next to my two year old and then in the foot well of the car. Surprisingly, plating up revealed the mountain of icing sugar had remained and all was coming up trumps. The presentation of this slice was interesting; dark layers of very rich looking flaky pastry, custard oozing out of the middle and lumpy jam present underneath the top layer of pastry. The real success story was the pastry. Absolutely beautifully baked, golden, flaky and morish. I also really enjoyed the jam; not just any old jam, but homemade (I assume) lumpy, raspberry jam that wasn’t just sweet, but also a little tart. Sadly the custard just wasn’t top notch. It was a nice loose consistency that provided an ooze with each bite, but annoyingly the vanilla content was lacking and it wasn’t a rich with egg as I’d hoped. In case you’re wondering, Mrs B took out the donut in the car and thoroughly enjoyed it. Overall, a nice surprise and I would recommend.
Filling: Flavourless, gelatinous, milky mix 3/10
Pastry: Verging on soggy, but passable. Below average 4/10
Presentation: Polarising icing, classy takeaway box 5/10
Value for money: $3.50. Poorly conceived product, throwaway job 3/10
Overall score: 3.75/10
It was a slightly risky manouvre eying up this vanilla slice from the doorway when they were already pre-packaged in their own takeaway containers. Regardless I took the gamble, spent my $3.50 and swiftly exited. It wasn’t until I opened the container and attempted a pickup that it became apparent that the icing was a slimy, almost butter icing consistency. This made for a very slidy and difficult grip. With one bite, I immediately sensed the failings of the rather gelatinous, bland milky custard mix. It chipped away with each bite and was a real let down. The pastry was ever so slightly better, but just on the verge of being soggy - also bland in its taste. The icing was woeful. A real slimey and pointless addition, offering nothing other than messy finger tips. Avoid if tempted.
Filling: Average but tasty enough, creamy vanilla custard 7/10
Pastry: Fresh and crispy, puffed rather than compressed 7/10
Presentation: Slap dash chocolate drizzle pattern, well proportioned 7/10
Value for money: $6.50 - Tiny portion but fresh - overpriced 6/10
Overall score: 6.75/10
An impromptu drive through the leafy suburb of Keilor led me to Caffe Dolce. Having since read their reviews on Zomato I might have done well to avoid this place, however I felt reasonably satisfied with my vanilla slice. I was initially surprised by the extortionate price tag of this thing, but at least it was fresh.
Filling: Elogant, rich vanilla bean creme patissiere 9/10
Pastry: Dark, crisp and laced with icing membrane to avoid moisture 9/10
Presentation: Neat, no frills and heavy ratio of custard : pastry 9/10
Value for money: $6.40 - Up market suburb, big price, big portion, big indulgence 8.5/10
Overall score: 9/10
My arrival at Cocoa was slightly serendipitous as I was running early for an appointment in Kew. I only really wanted a coffee to warm me up from the inside out. Noticing a tray of freshly baked goodies in the window display I couldn’t resist the urge to get a takeaway vanilla slice too. And what a slice it turned out to be. Paying top dollar for something is worthwhile if it is made with quality components and indeed meets the brief, so $6.40 proved to be money well spent. The slice was large and heavy, with a generous portion of thick vanilla bean creme patissiere. It was nestled in between two delicately thin, golden flaky pastry layers that contained tiny speckles of what looked like icing or crystallised sugar. It made the pastry super crunchy and I can only presume it acts as an anti mostisture membrane to stop the pastry from going soggy over time. All together this was a very unexpected surprise and all before 9am! Highly recommended if you’re in the area,
Filling: Light, fluffy vanilla cream 7/10
Pastry: Golden colour, but sadly not fresh 6/10
Presentation: Neat, half sized rectangle. Heavily dusted sugar 7.5/10
Value for money: $3.50 - Small portion, not fresh but enjoyable in the sun 6/10
Overall score: 6.6/10
Filling: Pleasant, lightly vanilla flavoured custard 8/10
Pastry: Well defined, compact layers but not enough crunch 6/10
Presentation: Mille-feuille construction, neatly decorated icing 7.5/10
Value for money: $4.80 - decent portion and relatively fresh. Not as satisfying as predicted 7/10
Overall score: 7/10
I rarely traipse into areas like Toorak, so I was interested to see how a European themed bakery in the high street would hold up. I was pleasantly surprised that the price of this well presented vanilla slice wasn’t exceeding $5 which is common for a Mille-feuille in French patisseries. The slice seemed quite fresh, maybe not ‘just baked’ but perhaps the night before my morning visit. The custard was the highlight here; smooth and somewhat eggy, with a light vanilla taste coming through. I wish there was more of the custard rather than three layers of the pastry. The pastry itself promised more than it delivered. Although the layers were well compacted and a decent colour they didn’t deliver in crunch, flakiness or salty savouriness. Having said that, they did cut easily enough with a sharp knife, so all was not lost. Finally the icing; interestingly swirled cocoa pattern and a nice sweetness when combined with the not so sweet custard. Altogether, not bad, not overpriced and a good start to the weekend.
Filling: Vanilla whipped cream custard 8.5/10
Pastry: Nicely puffed, starting to go soft inside. 6/10
Presentation: Proprtionally sound, neatly iced with passionfruit flavour icing 8.5/10
Value for money: $4.50 - Average sized portion, relatively fresh, tasty 8/10
Overall score: 7.75/10
With Milleara Bakery sold out of vanilla slices I stumbled upon The Long Macc Cafe inside the arcade selling three different varieties in their cake cabinet. With a hard decision to make, I settled for the passionfruit topped slice rather than the dusted sugar and vanilla icing. I’m certain that the Cafe buy their cakes in, so I was pleased to see that the slices were at least fresh. It reminded me a lot of the Zouki Cafe passionfruit slice I had on the day my son was born at the Royal Womens Hospital, so maybe they provide the cakes? The slice in question was tasty; creamy, light, vanillery and the passionfruit icing was very subtle and not overly sweet. The pastry was well puffed and still crisp on the underside, but starting to soften up on the inside after being exposed to the moisture of the custard. Overall, a rather nice find. Coincidentally, I ended finishing Mrs B’s tiramisu as the richness and heavy cream was just to much for her heavily pregnant-self!
Filling: Thick, heavy duty bakery custard 7.5/10
Pastry: Delightfully fresh and flaky 8.5/10
Presentation: Joe average square with dusted sugar 7/10
Value for money: $4 - Large portion, fresh and almost finished me off 7.5/10
Overall score: 7.6/10
Having already eaten my body weight in brunch across the road at Backyard Cafe, I crossed the road to test out Sammy’s vanilla slice. A pretty unassuming venue, stock is limited by baked freshly. For $4 I was handed a larger than average portion, filled with thick, creamy custard mix with a distinct vanilla essence flavour. The highlight of this slice was the pastry; with its lighter than air, crisp and flaky makeup. My maple pulled pork Benedict was sitting heavy in my stomach already, so this slab was touch and go for being eaten in one sitting. You’ll be glad to know that I powered through regardless of my levels of discomfort.
Filling: A ludicrous serving of thick, heavy vanilla cream 8.5/10
Pastry: Sadly lacking in quantity and freshness 5/10
Presentation: A real spectacle in its entirety, but a slither looks odd 5/10
Value for money: $7 - Half sized portion based on the original Flinders offering - not fresh 6.5/10
Overall score: 6.25/10
I’ve waited a while to get my hands on a piece of the famous Flinders vanilla slice, managing to finally locate a close(ish) supplier in Sunny Brighton. I drove in anticipation of seeing this monster and was not let down by its skyscraper proportions. Unfortunately North Point Cafe have let themselves down by their need for profit; charging $7 for a half sized portion when the original cut lines are visible in the slab. To make matters worse for them they also served me the last piece of the old slice (pictured bottom right), sadly containing some withered pastry. They also annoyed an 8 months pregnant Mrs B who was charged 50c for cream on her tiramisu, only to then find none in her takeaway box - what are they playing at?!
The slice in question is undoubtably huge, even at a half size portion it took me two sittings to get through it. The sight of the slab was mesmerising, but I feel a thin, cross sectional slither just looked a bit daft. Proportionally the amount of filling to pastry is way off and the item itself is basically one large dollop of vanilla cream. It’s heavy, rich, gloopy cream too, not light and fluffy. It tastes great, with plenty of vanilla and an aftertaste of coconut - was there a secret ingredient in there somewhere? As mentioned, the pastry wasn’t fresh, but even if freshly baked it was not golden brown and rich in its makeup. The icing peeled off with the top layer of pastry and became obsolete pretty quickly, proving impossible to break down with just a plastic fork.
I’d be keen to try the Flinders slice again - at full size and maximum freshness, to really put it through its paces. But as for North Point Cafe - they should really evaluate their value for money and customer service in future.
Filling: Very sweet vanilla cream custard 7/10
Pastry: Well defined, dark layers, but not frssh and flaky 6.5/10
Presentation: Thick layer of icing sugar, very average construction 6.5/10
Value for money: $5.50 - Small / average sized portion, overpriced 4/10
Overall score: 6/10
Having seen a photo of Vault’s sandwich board posted on Twitter a few months back, I thought a visit to trendy Yarraville was in order. Many people advertise “award winning” items, so I took this one with a pinch of salt. I’m guessing this was nothing more than a marketing stunt, as after taking out their last vanilla slice I wasn’t particularly bowled over. The slice looked like yesterday’s and the dusted icing sugar was thickly dusted and falling off in large, avalanches with each bite. The pastry had a great colour but lacked flakiness, though still rigid (thankfully). The custard had a very definite vanilla essence flavour and was a good texture overall. Selling this item for $5.50 is a bit steep, but advertising something that doesn’t live up to the claim is frankly naive.
Filling: Sweet, fluffy, creamy custard 7/10
Pastry: Very nicely puffed layers, golden but dry 6.5/10
Presentation: Refined and well proportioned with real passion fruit icing 9/10
Value for money: $3.50 - Big portion and excellently priced 8/10
Overall score: 7.6/10
Sacca’s have somewhat of an empire in the northern suburbs, so I was only happy to oblige and sit with a latte and a passion fruit topped vanilla slice in their Epping coffee shop. I’m almost certain that their slices are bought in, but nevertheless there were two varieties to choose from. I witnessed the traditional vanilla being unpacked and sliced in a cardboard box, leading me to believe that they are baked nearby and sold. At a very affordable $7 I sat with with my two items and quietly consumed. The slice was very neatly assembled, with cleanly puffed golden layers of pastry visible, a smooth yellow custard and a passion fruit iced top. The pastry was not as good as I’d hoped; although golden and fresh it was slightly dry and lacking a buttery richness. It held together well enabling smooth cutting and biting and provided a sturdy vessel to get the custard from plate to mouth effectively. The custard itself was quite nice but lacking a punch of vanilla or egg. The real winner here was the icing ; sweet, slightly tart and a striking colour. A pleasant experience overall.
Filling: Bland, gelatinous, milky custard 3.5/10
Pastry: Presentable, thin layers, but lacking bite 5/10
Presentation: Highly stacked rectangular tri-layer effort 6.5/10
Value for money: $4.50 - Big portion but memorable for the wrong reasons 5/10
Overall score: 5/10
I hadn’t planned on stopping in a bakery whilst passing through Thomastown, however I saw the awning for Santinas Cakes next to the main road and thought I would give them a shot. I took away one of their highly stacked Italian vanilla slices, heavily dusted with icing sugar and packaged in its own piece of acetate. Upon peeling back the plastic I noticed the gelatinous texture and pale colour of custard that had been concealed previously. Nevertheless, I chowed down with a huge bite to take out all three layers of pastry and the double helping of custard. Sadly the custard was very bland, milky and without much sweetness or vanilla. It had obviously be made with large quantities of corn flour as this would explain the cloudy colour and slightly rubbery texture. The pastry, though looking half decent, in truth was very average. It was nicely puffed and golden in places but it lacked a biscuity crunch and was a little soft. Having had a good handful of Italian versions of a vanilla slice now, I cannot remember having a really good one. Shame.
Filling: Sloppy vanilla bean custard 8/10
Pastry: Lacking crunch and butteriness, a disappointment 5/10
Presentation: Typical mille-feuille shaped skinny rectangle, but unstable 6.5/10
Value for money: $5.50 - Not as tasty as I’d have expected and pricey 6/10
Overall score: 6.4/10
En route home I called in to a French Patisserie in the heart of Brunswick gaining some press. With an authentic Frenchman behind the counter, he suggested a vanilla slice and a raspberry choux would be a good combination for a pregnant Mrs B craving sugar and cream. Trying desperately hard to place the two items in the takeaway box, sadly the vanilla slice started to slump and the lovely gentleman needed to reconstruct the rasberry choux after a minor collapse. The mille-feuille had noticeable vanilla bean content running through the custard and tasted creamy and rich when sampled with a cheeky finger. The pastry, however, was a let down. It was uneven in thickness and texture; crisp in places but soggy in others and lacking the buttery richness you normally get with fine French pastries. When eaten all together the custard wasn’t strong enough in flavour and was overpowered by the pastry due to the overall quantities. The icing was beautifully patterned and a good thickness, containing a nice chocolate after taste when finished. Mrs B loved her raspberry choux, and for once I had food envy!
Filling: Sweet, creamy, fluffy custard 7/10
Pastry: Well baked and crispy 6.5/10
Presentation: Well proportioned rectangle with chocolate drizzle pattern 8/10
Value for money: $4 - Fresh but unlikely baked on site. Satisfying overall 7.5/10
Overall score: 7.25/10
I wasn’t out shopping for a vanilla slice but I walked past this little place in the middle of Westfield and couldn’t resist. At first I thought it might have been a Costco bought slice, but the chocolate drizzled pattern on top is definitely different to theirs, so I took a punt. The slice is most likely bought in from elsewhere, but at least it was fresh and overall pretty satisfying. The custard was a nice yellow colour, fluffy and light in texture and creamy in flavour. There wasn’t much in the way of vanilla, but it ticks a few boxes. The pastry too was well assembled, dark brown and consistent in thickness and bite. The flavour lacked slightly, but the two layers did their jobs effectively for picking up and biting through. Finally the icing; a good thickness, sweetness and nicely decorated with chocolate. Perhaps it would benefit from also being a little larger!
Filling: Very sweet but fluffy pudding mix 5/10
Pastry: Surprisingly crispy and fresh but lacking in colour and flavour 6/10
Presentation: Typical homemade or canteen-styled effort, cut wonky 6/10
Value for money: $5 - freshly baked but not lovingly concocted 5/10
Overall score: 5.5/10
I write this post with mixed emotions as the product I’m out to review is not particularly good - but not awful. I visit Espresso 155 regularly to buy their coffee beans and am always happy to stop and have a chat with the friendly owners. It’s a great cafe with awesome coffee, a large variety of Keep cups and a very strong ethos of pleasing the customer. Since I last visited they now have some homemade cakes in their display cabinet, including some vanilla slices...so who was I to say no! Selling at an overpriced $5 the slice was your typical home assembled effort, most likely using shop bought ingredients, such as frozen puff pastry sheets and vanilla pudding mixture. The pasty was fresh at least, but didn’t set my palate alight. The filling was overly sweet and tasted like a packet mix, with a creamy consistency and fluffy, springy texture. The icing was unusual; grainy and soft and actually detracted from the rest of the slice. Worth a punt, but I will stick to the coffee beans thanks.
Filling: Smooth, sweet creamy custard 6/10
Pastry: Fresh, dark, crispy and flaky 8.5/10
Presentation: Beautifully crafted, picture perfect icing 9/10
Value for money: $5.20 - freshly baked but lacking vanilla and egg content 7/10
Overall score: 7.6/10
Driving through the far northern suburbs, I stumbled across an authentic Italian bakery that’s been trading since 1966 - the year England famously won the Wold Cup. I was impressed at their huge array of cakes and enticing window display in the bustling Lalor high street. The vanilla slice was elegantly assembled and neatly packed into a takeaway container, wrapped in acetate to avoid leakage and likely adhesion of custard to the box walls. The icing was as good as I’ve seen on my journies and I took my first bite with real anticipation. I got the initial crackle of the golden pastry, then the creaminess of the custard and the slight sweetness from the icing, ending on a rich chocolate aftertaste. What was noticeable was the excellent consistency of the custard, but the apparent lack of eggy richness and vanilla running through. One of the finer Italian made slices I’ve tasted so far but still lots of room for improvement.
Filling: Gelatinous but tasty vanilla custard 6/10
Pastry: Dry and crunchless layers 4/10
Presentation: Heavily dusted and neatly cut cube 8/10
Value for money: $4 - huge portion but not the best quality 5/10
Overall score: 5.75/10
The Baker’s Son is a fusion bakery offering two of my favourite things - Aussie baked goods and Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches. Taking out a grilled chicken banh mi and dusted vanilla slice I devoured both outside. The banh mi was not bad, but compared to my usual shredded chicken at Fresh Chilli Deli in St Albans it was inferior on every level. I opted for the dusted vanilla slice over the other two varieties as the chocolate topped slice brought back memories of last weeks visit to Craigieburn, and the icing on the traditional slice looked thick and heavy and the custard even more like jelly.
From the video you can see that the custard was a little on the wibbly wobbly, gelatinous side, but to my surprise is wasn’t rubbery in texture and bland. It was set, yes, but also quite smooth, creamy and full of vanilla. Unfortunately that was as good as it got. The pastry, although clearly fresh, had a poor texture and was dry and lacked any bite. Just like my last vanilla slice in Deer Park, I used a utensil to scoop out the custard, leaving behind the disappointing pastry. In summary, not the best banh mi and not a great vanilla slice.
Filling: The heaviest, thickest sticky vanilla custard 7.5/10
Pastry: Predictably pale, lifeless layers, missing crunch 4/10
Presentation: Mammoth proportions, heavily iced, but quite dull 6/10
Value for money: $3.50 - huge portion but pastry and icing lacking quality 6/10
Overall score: 5.9/10
With limited choices out in the far west suburbs I took what I could at the Bake Place. I opted for their traditional vanilla slice as their French vanilla slice contained an extra layer of pastry in the middle - and as predicted the pastry was not great. The vanilla slice was huge; comparing it to Mrs B’s IPhone, you can see that it had not only a large footprint but also some impressive height from the generous amounts of custard. Carrying the bag back to car was tough, with the slice weighing at least 3kg! As mentioned, the pastry was pale in colour and lacking flavour, crispness and flavour. As a result, I pretty much used the pastry as a holding device to scoop out the custard with a disposable spoon I had in my glove box. The custard itself was a tricky one. It was slightly set, but not like jelly. It was as thick as you can get with a custard and the spoon was able to stand up vertically in the custard with no support. But contrastingly, it was creamy, rich and full of vanilla flavour. The thick layer of icing was disappointing too and after one bite I realised that it wasn’t worth eating as it lacked a glossy, melty quality that enhances the pastry/custard combo. Therefore the score represents a huge portion, small price and a half decent custard that in these quantities would satisfy two vanilla slices from most bakeries.
Filling: Average bakery custard and fresh whipped cream 6/10
Pastry: Thick layers of whitish, soft pastry 4/10
Presentation: Interesting and individual effort with distinct layers and chocolate icing 8/10
Value for money: $3.50 - huge cube shaped portion but lacking tastiness 6.5/10
Overall score: 6/10
Fancying a leisurely Sunday drive whilst baby B had a nap in the car, I drove out to Craigieburn in search of Hothlyn Bakery. What awaited me was a choice between a traditional custard filled, white iced vanilla slice or a wacky chocolate iced cream/custard combo French vanilla slice. Both selling at $3.50, I opted for the unique option. Positives with this slice are its distinct and generous fillings, making the overall slice big, heavy and at a very reasonable price. Without the cream the custard on its own would be very bland, lacking conviction with any vanilla or egg. The pastry holding this thing together was slightly thicker than usual and was verging on the soggy side and also quite flavourless. The icing ruined the taste of bites containing all elements, therefore I chose to disregard the icing completely after one bite. It’s cheap, powdery chocolate taste was not sweet or decadent, but rather pasty and dry. A half decent reward for my drive to the outer suburbs.
Filling: Tasteless and set yellow custard. 3/10
Pastry: Clearly well baked and a great colour, but stale 4/10
Presentation: Tri-layer construction with decorative flaked pastry edging 8/10
Value for money: $4.80, if fresh the outcome would have been different - stale 4/10
Overall score: 4.8/10
I wasn’t intending to eat a vanilla slice today after my recent Perth binge, but walking past Creatures of Habit in the Springvale Homemaker Centre I noticed what looked like a half decent specimen. I’ve encountered this type before; with an artisan French feel about it. The custard, pressed up against acetate, looked rich and eggy and the flaked pastry edging was a nice touch. When I pulled back the acetate the custard sadly remained lifeless and rigid. I could also feel just by holding the pastry that it was like damp cardboard left outside over night in the drizzle. The whole thing was a real let down. The pastry would have been really good if fresh, with a lovely golden colour and a buttery makeup that would have flaked beautifully no doubt. The custard, however, was not just gelatinous but also very tasteless. The colour must have been artificial as there was no hint of egg yolk or any vanilla content present in my tasting. The cafe admit to buying their cakes in from Empire Bakery - but clearly this was not a freshly delivered product. Shame on you!
Filling: Smooth textured sweet custard 7.5/10
Pastry: The highlight - Buttery, rich and flaky 10/10
Presentation: slightly rustic, noticeably pastry heavy and lightly dusted 6/10
Value for money: $3.50, just off the bakers table, smallish portion 7/10
Overall score: 7.6/10
When heading to a new suburb I tend to Google my vanilla slice options. This time around I came across newly opened Dulce Bakehouse - an authentic South American bakery run by a very lovely young family. They had just reopened after the festive break and their shelves were empty. Looking disappointed, I asked if any vanilla slices were available and I was promptly shown the components taking shape behind the sales counter. With 10 minutes to spare I stood and chatted with the owners, watching the custard getting poured on to the pastry, sampling the custard off a wooden spoon and watching the baker meticulously measuring and cutting the slices with a ruler and Stanley knife. They explained about their pledge to offer traditional handmade flaky pastry using a certain type of butter and method that takes days to perfect. They later added that they have ambitions to enter the Vanilla slice Triumph next year - this is where I would be willing to help out!
The slice has bags of potential and with such nice owners they deserve to enter and win the Triumph next year. The pastry is out of this world; dark brown in colour, as flaky and buttery and rich as you will ever find. The layers are compact and crunchy to the bite, but not baked hard forcing the custard to splurge out the sides. I didn’t realise that the bottom layer of pastry was actually two layers, sandwiching a thin spreading of dulce de leche - something I have seen in other South American bakeries, but still a lovely sweet surprise. The custard was undoubtedly fresh and a beautiful light and smooth texture, and a rich golden colour. However I would have liked to taste a much stronger vanilla flavour and approximately twice the portion size to amend the pastry / custard ratio.
Now, as stated I’m not a baker or any kind of judge at the Triumph, but having eaten so many slices over the years (including previous winners of the competition) I would be happy to be the local(ish) taste tester in the steps leading up to August’s Triumph. Good luck Dolce.
Filling: Lightly whipped vanilla cream 6/10
Pastry: The highlight; golden and flaky 9/10
Presentation: Triple layer, heavily dusted - almost dangerously so 8/10
Value for money: $6.50, Average size, fresh (on a Sunday) 7/10
Overall score: 7.5/10
I visited trendy Haytch Cafe in Thornbury for a bit of Sunday lunch with Phil and Marin Puff. I had read their Zomato reviews like this one:
"I've had my fair share of vanilla slices but nothing will ever compare to this one right here.
The photos do zero justice to how incredible it was. The vanilla custard was the best custard I've ever had in my entire life."
Naturally I had to check it out. With a sense of deja vu, it later dawned on me that the owner Harry also owns Jahdomes Cafe in Mill Park. I visited 14 months ago and I had quashed that rumour of the best vanilla slice then, and unfortunately this one fell short once more.
Whilst the cafe was great and we all enjoyed our lunches the assessable component on this blog was as follows:
Phil Puff: "Nice enough"
Marian: "Not custardy enough"
As a footnote, I noticed that from the almost identical Jahdomes slice, the Haytch slice is smaller and yet still the same price - hence why I scored this one slightly less overall.
As for some of the Zomato reviewers - get out and have some more vanilla slices and then re-evaluate your thoughts on this one.
Jahdomes review - http://byronsvanillasliceblog.weebly.com/snot-blog/jahdomes-bakery-cafe-mill-park-vic
Filling: Dismal, slightly gelatinous custard 2/10
Pastry: Day old, soggy, unevenly baked layers 1/10
Presentation: Rough around the edges, burnt top layer, poorly dusted 3/10
Value for money: $3.30- Cheap but poor quality all round - Throwaway job 2/10
Overall score: 2/10
This is really a post of two parts. Unsurprisingly, after last weeks high of Johnny Baker's tremendous vanilla slice came today's low of St Albans Hot Bread Bakery's efforts.
En route to my favourite banh mi establishment in St Albans on a rainy Sunday morning, I seized the opportunity to stop at Hot Bread and take out one of their 'baked yesterday' slices. The customer service was great, the lady all smiles and honest about the slices being baked the day before - all good. Sadly though, the slice itself just didn't offer anything. The pastry feel apart like a cardboard box left out in the rain. Clear too was the uneven bake of the layers; burnt in areas and blond in others. Propping up the inside was stale and flavourless custard, with crusty edges, a gelatinous bite and lacking any notable vanilla flavour. After two mouthfuls I gave up and my bin at the rest.
The real purpose of my trip out in the rain was for mine and Mrs B's lunch of a shredded chicken banh mi, ice coffee and my insurance policy. Yes, you see I am a smart man who thinks ahead. I can never leave Fresh Chilli Deli without a custard puff in tow. At $1.50 they are a bargain and I would likely pay twice the price for the quality of the choux pastry and thick eggy custard goodness.
It pays to shop around - maybe this blog should be called Comparethecustard.com.
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