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Vanilla Slices – Recipes and opinions from Australia

Image of a tray of cut vanilla slices in front of a Thermomix. These are decorated with icing sugar.

If there’s one dessert that sparks endless debate and discussion, it’s the humble vanilla slice (know locally, and fondly, as a “snot block”). With so many recipes out there, it’s clear that everyone has their own idea of what makes the perfect slice. I’ve even joined a Facebook group dedicated to finding the best vanilla slices in Australia. Let me tell you, the recommendations are endless! Each slice has a unique charm for someone from texture, taste and price.

Some people swear by a thick custard layer that doesn’t squish when you bite into it, while others prefer a delicate, light, creamy custard with a balance of pastry and filling. And don’t get me started on the icing debate – classic white, passionfruit, or a simple dusting of icing sugar?

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Custard for a vanilla slice in a Thermomix bowl.
This image shows what the custard should look like.

One common complaint is that some bakery vanilla slices can be quite expensive. I get it; it can be frustrating. But there’s more to the story than just the price tag. Running a business involves a lot of costs – rent, employees’ salaries, utilities – you name it. But let’s focus on the ingredients. Many bakeries use a custard filling called Custilla, which just needs cold water to mix. It’s inexpensive to use compared to recipes that use traditional raw materials where you cook everything from scratch.

In our cafe, we made everything from scratch with quality ingredients. Our prices were really good because we wanted to compete with other places, but this often left us running at a loss in the cafe area. So next time you enjoy a vanilla slice, remember that the price reflects not just the ingredients but also the care and effort that goes into making it.

I think it’s fantastic that we all have different tastes and preferences. If we all liked the same things, life would be rather boring. But that leaves me with a conundrum: what recipe do I share with you?

I have quite a few recipes for vanilla slices from various establishments. I’m not going to add my favourite because it takes quite a bit more effort – 8 yolks and a few more steps than these – and let’s be honest, we all like quick and easy, right? Instead, I’ll give you a couple of recipes that will help you make your perfect vanilla slice at home.

Now, I can’t promise they’ll be perfect for everyone, but I’m covering both bases: custard powder and eggs. The first recipe uses custard powder from the supermarket because good luck finding a small amount of Custilla when it comes in 15kg boxes. The other recipe uses whole eggs and yolks, so you don’t have to waste too many egg whites, something we used to do in our cafe to help with the pennies without compromising on tradition.

I know there are countless recipes out there, and it’s clear that finding one that suits everyone is nearly impossible. But these two should give you a great start! Let me know which type of vanilla slice you prefer. Whether you like yours with a thick, firmish custard filling or a soft, light custard, crispy pastry dusted with icing sugar or slathered with white icing or passionfruit, there’s no right or wrong way to enjoy this classic treat.

What if it’s not how you like it?

If you’re making the custard powder version, it will depend on the custard powder brand you’ve chosen. If you always use the same brand, it will be easy for you to make notes and adjust the recipe to suit your favourite style. If it is too firm, add 50g more milk or cream. Too soft reduce by that amount. If you like it soft and creamy, pour the custard into a bowl, cover it with a cartouche (on top), allow it to cool, and then whip it before adding to your pastry. What about adding some whipped cream to it before adding it to your slice? You can change up a vanilla slice to make it yours in many ways. Try it, and make it just as you like.

Assembled vanilla slices in a track, ready to be cut into squares.
Long fingers of Vanilla Slice. Top cut through so it’s easier to manage later.

Bec’s Vanilla Slice with Custard Powder

5 from 3 votes

5 stars tells us you love the recipe

becs-table.com.au
This recipe will give you a firm, full flavoured vanilla Custard slice, depending on the custard powder you use.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes
Difficulty Medium
Course Afternoon Tea, Dessert
Cuisine Australian
Servings 8
Method Thermomix and Conventional

Equipment

  • 1 Thermomix (optional)

Ingredients
  

For the Pastry

  • 1 pack Frozen butter puff pastry

For the Filling:

  • 250 g caster sugar
  • 80 g cornflour
  • 70 g custard powder
  • 750 g milk
  • 300 g cream
  • 15 g vanilla
  • 60 g butter
  • 2 egg yolks

For the White Icing:

  • 1 egg white see notes
  • 175 g icing sugar

Instructions
 

Thermomix Method:

    For the pastry:

    • Preheat oven to 180°C (fan-forced) or 200°C (no fan). Line two baking trays with baking paper.
    • Lay the frozen butter puff pastry on the baking trays, sprinkle with sugar and allow to thaw slightly. Prick holes in both sheets with a fork or use a pastry docker. Cover with another sheet of baking paper and another baking tray.
    • Bake for 30 minutes (fan-forced) or 40 minutes (no fan) until golden and crispy. Cool completely at room temperature.
    • Cut the pastry to fit your baking tin. I used a 30cm x 14 cm (12 x 5.5-inch) tin, using a sharp kitchen knife. Cut down on the pastry rather than drag it across.

    For the Custard filling:

    • Weigh all the dry ingredients into the TM bowl and mix for 3 sec/speed 5.
    • Weigh in the milk, cream, vanilla, and yolks, then mix for 5 sec/speed 5.
    • Set the TM for 12 min/90°C/speed 3. (If you have a TM6, just use Thicken Mode set for 100°C) Taste it before removing it from the bowl. If it takes a minute more to cook out the custard powder, do it. 100°C /speed 3
    • Set the TM for 2 min/100°C/speed 4. Meanwhile, prepare the butter cubes.
    • After time is up, scrape down the mix, pop the lid back on, and set the speed to 4. Drop in the butter cubes one at a time through the hole in the lid, followed by the yolks. Mix until smooth and creamy.

    Assembly:

    • Line the baking tin with baking paper or plastic wrap, leaving an overhang. Place one pastry sheet in the bottom, pour custard over, smooth with a spatula, and top with the second pastry sheet.
    • Chill in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight to set.
    • To cut, lift the slice out using the overhang. Use a sharp serrated knife to score and cut into slices. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
    • For the fondant topping: Add the egg white and 175g of icing sugar to the TM bowl. Set the TM for 3 min/50°C/speed 3. While still warm, pour over the slice and allow to set.

    Conventional Method:

      For the pastry:

      • Preheat oven to 180°C (fan-forced) or 200°C (no fan). Line two baking trays with baking paper.
      • Lay the frozen butter puff pastry on the baking trays, sprinkle with sugar and allow to thaw slightly. Prick holes in both sheets with a fork or use a pastry docker. Cover with another sheet of baking paper and another baking tray.
      • Bake for 30 minutes (fan-forced) or 40 minutes (no fan) until golden and crispy. Cool completely at room temperature.
      • Cut the pastry to fit your baking tin. I used a 30cm x 14 cm (12 x 5.5-inch) tin, using a sharp kitchen knife. Cut down on the pastry rather than drag it across.

      For the filling:

      • Weigh your sugar, cornflour, and custard powder into a saucepan. Gradually add half the milk and whisk until smooth to prevent lumps. Add the rest of the milk and cream, whisking over medium heat until the mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat, add butter and vanilla, whisking until smooth. If needed, return to heat briefly to ensure smoothness. Ensure the mixture isn’t too hot, then whisk in the egg yolks until combined.

      Assembly:

      • Line the baking tin with baking paper or plastic wrap, leaving an overhang. Place one pastry sheet in the bottom, pour custard over, smooth with a spatula, and top with the second pastry sheet.
      • Chill in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight to set.
      • To cut, lift the slice out using the overhang. Use a sharp serrated knife to score and cut into slices. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
      • For the fondant topping: Combine the egg white and icing sugar in a pot or bowl. Mix well and gently heat until around 40° – 50°C. While still warm, pour over the slice and allow to set.

      Notes

      You should have 2 egg whites left over from making your custard. Use one of these for the icing (using both will be too much).

      Bec’s Vanilla Slice made with fresh eggs

      5 from 3 votes

      5 stars tells us you love the recipe

      becs-table.com.au
      This recipe has a slightly softer custard, it's one we would use in our cafe. To reduce waste we used some whole eggs as well as yolks.
      Prep Time 30 minutes
      Cook Time 30 minutes
      Total Time 7 hours
      Difficulty Medium
      Course Afternoon Tea, Dessert
      Cuisine Australian
      Servings 8
      Method Thermomix and Conventional

      Equipment

      • 1 Thermomix (optional)

      Ingredients
        

      For the Custard:

      • 500 g whole milk
      • 200 g caster sugar
      • 2 medium eggs
      • 4 egg yolks from medium eggs
      • 50 g cornflour
      • 1 vanilla bean split or 20 g vanilla extract
      • 60 g unsalted butter cold cut into cubes

      For the Pastry:

      • 2 sheets of Frozen butter puff pastry
      • caster sugar for dusting.

      Instructions
       

      Thermomix Method:

      • Preheat oven to 180°C (fan-forced) or 200°C (no fan). Line two baking trays with baking paper.
      • For the pastry: Lay the frozen butter puff pastry on the baking trays, sprinkle with sugar and allow to thaw slightly. Prick holes in both sheets with a fork or use a pastry docker. Cover with another sheet of baking paper and another heavy baking tray.
      • Bake for 30 minutes (fan-forced) or 40 minutes (no fan) until golden and crispy. Cool completely at room temperature.
      • Cut the pastry to fit your baking tin. I used a 30cm x 14 cm (12 x 5.5-inch) tin, using a sharp kitchen knife. Cut down on the pastry rather than drag it across.
      • For the custard: Add sugar and cornflour to the Thermomix bowl. Mix for 5 seconds/speed 5.
      • Add egg yolks and whole eggs. Mix for 6 seconds/speed 5.
      • Add the milk and vanilla. Cook for 12 minutes/90°C/speed 3. (TM6 owners use Thicken mode 100°C and let it work it out for you.) Taste it before removing from the bowl. If it needs a minute more to cook out the flour do it. 100°C speed 3
      • Once the mixture is thickened and the cornflour has cooked out, add the cold butter cubes one at a time through the hole in the lid while mixing on speed 4 until smooth and combined.

      Assembly:

      • Line the baking tin with baking paper or plastic wrap, leaving an overhang. Place one pastry sheet in the bottom, pour custard over, smooth with a spatula, and top with the second pastry sheet.
      • Chill in the fridge for 4-6 hours or overnight to set.
      • To cut, lift the slice out using the overhang. Use a sharp serrated knife to score and cut into slices. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

      Conventional Method:

      • Preheat oven to 180°C (fan-forced) or 200°C (no fan). Line two baking trays with baking paper.
      • For the Pastry: Lay the frozen butter puff pastry on the baking trays, sprinkle with sugar and allow to thaw slightly. Prick holes in both sheets with a fork or use a pastry docker. Cover with another sheet of baking paper and another heavy baking tray.
      • Bake for 30 minutes (fan-forced) or 40 minutes (no fan) until golden and crispy. Cool completely at room temperature.
      • Cut the pastry to fit your baking tin. I used a 30cm x 14 cm (12 x 5.5-inch) tin, using a sharp kitchen knife. Cut down on the pastry rather than drag it across.
      • For the custard: Combine sugar and cornflour in a large heatproof bowl, whisking to combine. Add egg yolks and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
      • Heat the milk in a non-stick pot over low heat until bubbles form around the edges. Remove from heat.
      • Gradually add hot milk to the egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. Once half the milk is added, whisk in the rest.
      • Return the mixture to the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring until thickened (3-4 minutes). Continue stirring until it bubbles, then cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla bean paste.
      • Add cold butter in batches, (off the heat) stirring until melted and combined.

      Assembly:

      • Line the baking tin with baking paper or plastic wrap, leaving an overhang. Place one pastry sheet in the bottom, pour custard over, smooth with a spatula, and top with the second pastry sheet.
      • Chill in the fridge for 4-6 hours or overnight to set.
      • To cut, lift the slice out using the overhang. Use a sharp serrated knife to score and cut into slices. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

      12 Comments

      1. 5 stars
        Wow this was amazing. Made it today, (custard powder) but instead of using the pastry I used soa biscuits and all the family loved it. Thank you for the recipe Bec.

          1. 5 stars
            I used the custard powder one but I am looking forward to making your second recipe next. I always find my TM5 custard recipe works for me. I’ve tried doing the egg custard by scratch on the hotplates & always a failure. Thank you for taking the time to share delicious recipes that work everytime.

            1. You’re welcome Judith, I’m guessing that the hotplate failures are due to temperature. The Thermomix is brilliant for that, it knows what temperature it is all the time and can prevent fails. We love that 💖

          2. I used the thicken mode then cooked it again after that mode was done as instructed on Step 4. Is that right or did I overcook it? It still tastes delicious. I was eating spoonfuls of it! Haha it was my first vanilla slice so I know it isn’t going to be perfect. I’m gonna try the other recipe without the custard powder next time. 😊

            1. That may have been the problem, Isabel. You only need to cook it further if you taste it and it tastes like flour. You may have overdone it a bit. It will also depend on the type of custard powder you use. Have a read of the rest of the blog post. You can loosen the mix-up in many ways if it’s too thick. I’ve shared some ideas in the post.

          1. Hi, for the egg yolks on the recipe with the custard powder – do you add egg yolks with the milk and cream OR add the egg yolks at the end after the butter? I used the TM6 to make it. I cooked it with the milk, cream, and vanilla, as per instruction number 2 to mix them all together. The end result, is it supposed to be jelly like? I couldn’t really spread it once poured in the tray as it was like jelly. Tbh it looked like a scrambled egg jelly. 🫣

            1. Hi Isabel, you need to add them in step two to cook them out. Did you set your Thermomix to 90C or use thicken mode? You have to remove the custard as soon as the timer goes off. It will set if you leave it. If you didnt get to it in time you can whip it up again and then pour it.

      5 from 3 votes

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