Six reasons to eat that vanilla slice

Bourkies vanilla slice, Woodend Victoria (looks like I need to take a road trip!)

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:

  1. Custard is mostly made from milk, which we all know is a fundamental food group. Plus milk contains calcium for strong bones.
  2. I need to break that $20 note to give change to the person who orders my coffee.
  3. The sooner I eat the vanilla slice, the sooner I can hide the evidence.
  4. Yesterday I ate a chocolate fondant, so it’s not as though I’ve been dieting recently.
  5. I walked 10 minutes to the shops and back, so I deserve it.
  6. 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?

45 comments

  1. I just one of these this week after a long break, and it was oh so delicious.

    I also just found out last year that they are commonly referred to as snot blocks, which was news to me, but does make a certain amount of sense.

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  2. Oh wow, now I have another reason to go back to Melbourne. That photo looks amazing. My go-to guilty pleasure is a variation on chocolate ice cream. Chubby Hubby from Ben n’ Jerry’s is a fave…
    😉

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    1. mmm, to go with that coffee you mean? I’m a massive fan of ice cream as well, although it’s a bit different here. I don’t think I’ve ever had Ben n Jerry’s, although have heard about it for years!

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  3. That looks delicious. I have an absolute weakness for all things custardy… If it came in a lemon variety, I’d be hooked.
    I can’t buy Nutella because I end up eating it off the spoon (no lie) and when I am feeling really grouchy, my go-to is a toblerone bar. Or a G&T.
    🙂

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          1. My Australian Chef friend has sent me a recipe for the Vanilla Slice. Perhaps we can invent some sort of “Vanilla Slice Diet” so that I can make and eat this dessert and not feel guilty about it? Like…a Vanilla Slice for breakfast and lunch, and a reasonable dinner…and voila! weight loss!

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  4. My guilty pleasure is a movie, big coke and a huge popcorn every Friday night. At least I’m making the Coke 1/2 diet now. Can’t watch a movie without my popcorn. Do you have a favorite recipe for Vanilla Slice? This is the first time I’ve ever heard of it. What is on top of it? Thanks for the post!

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  5. Shame, you sinful woman! This is beyond temptation! Considering that I give up sweets for Lent, I was a foolish bimbo for even coming so close to this post. And now it’s too late because I find myself wholly smitten by a treat that contains all the things I love most in a dessert. (Or mid-morning tidbit, afternoon pick-me-up, late night delicacy …)

    And yet, as you said, the custard isn’t EXACTLY a sweet considering that milk is a main staple, and what good is a body that doesn’t have strong bones hauling it around …

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    1. We have a few ‘national’ desserts I think. There’s pavlova of course (although the kiwis try to claim that). And I’ll have to introduce you all to chocolate ripple cake… (kind of like cookies and cream)…

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  6. OMG, I need one of those! Can that thing travel by Fed Ex? I guess I’ll have to settle for a cone of my Edy’s Key Lime Pie Ice Cream, well … yogurt blend. It’s only 120 calories/half cup but the cones I make remind me of a famous building that’s been leaning for quite a few years 😛

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  7. They don’t make that here. I’m starting a petition to bring vanilla slices to my town. That looks yum-yum-yummy. And if you enjoy it, what’s a few thousand extra calories (I’d probably eat more than one; that’s how I came up with the thousands number). Thanks for the share. Any chance you have a recipe. My daughter is an amazing baker and is always looking for new things to make her mother fat. 😉

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  8. Bourkies do make a fine slice. There is one equally as nice across the road at the Woodend bakery as well. Regarding vanilla slices, I say why have one when you can have three?!. There are worse things to be addicted too. I even blog about the little custard beauties. vanillasliceofheaven.wordpress.com Catch you in Merbein on the 17th!

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          1. That’s too bad. It’s a 6 hour plus drive from Geelong for me anyway, but I love a good road trip – I’m sure I can upload some yummy snaps from the day.

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