Custard. Thick, creamy, sweet. Slabbed between two dainty sheets of flaky puff pastry. Eaten with a fork. This is a vanilla slice, an Australian cake institution, derived from the French mille-feuille, but oh so much better.
I have a weakness for vanilla slices, a weakness my beloved grandmother discovered while I was still a child, and diligently fostered with treats after school. Ever since, I’ve diligently sampled them far and wide, sometimes making pilgrimages to cafes of known vanilla slice awesomeness.
I’m not alone. Such is the obsession with vanilla slices in Australia that many country towns enter an annual competition to see who makes the best ones. The key component is the custard. Infused with vanilla, folded with whipped cream. The pastry is merely structural, an afterthought to hold it all together. It’s all about the custard.
So… I daresay you will not be surprised that it is often a vanilla slice to which I turn in moments of weakness, sadness, world-weariness. (Or sometimes I just can’t resist the sight of them — I’d be hard pushed to resist the one pictured!)
And if the guilt-monster starts attacking me? This is what I
tell myself told myself today:
- Custard is mostly made from milk, which we all know is a fundamental food group. Plus milk contains calcium for strong bones.
- I need to break that $20 note to give change to the person who orders my coffee.
- The sooner I eat the vanilla slice, the sooner I can hide the evidence.
- Yesterday I ate a chocolate fondant, so it’s not as though I’ve been dieting recently.
- I walked 10 minutes to the shops and back, so I deserve it.
- There’s no point dieting until I start working out on a regular basis. So I might as well enjoy it…
What about you guys? Any sinful edible secrets you go to great lengths to rationalise? What’s the best excuse you can come up with?