Mother's Day is literally just around the corner, and that got me thinking about my mum and what she likes. I have mentioned before how my mum lives interstate in Queensland, so that unfortunately means another Mother's Day of not being together. When we are together we quite often like to have afternoon tea/coffee sitting out on there back deck soaking in the Australian wildlife on their beautiful Queensland property. So when I think about what I would bake if we were together for Mother's Day, I couldn't help but think about and easy and delicious Vanilla Slice. I just think its the perfect afternoon (or morning) tea treat!
For this recipe, rather than making my own puff-pastry I decided to buy a good quality store-bought puff pastry, just to keeps things simple for the average home cook! This vanilla slice can be made a day in advance and kept in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Crispy pastry with a smooth, creamy vanilla custard filling, it's as simple as that, but this might just land you the "favourite child" title - at least for now!
4 sheets of good quality store-bought puff pastry, thawed
20g unsalted butter, melted
132g egg yolks (about 7 egg yolks)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped)
110g caster sugar
80g custard powder
550g full-cream milk
25g unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1cm pieces.
1. Preheat oven to 180˚C. Line 2 trays with baking paper and place 1 pastry sheet on each tray. Using a pastry brush, brush the melted butter on the top of each sheet of pastry. Carefully line up a second sheet of pastry on top of the first. Place a piece of baking paper on top of each pastry sheet and place an additional baking tray on top of this. This will act as a weight as the pastry begins to rise. Place both trays in the oven and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes, until golden.
2. Remove trays from oven, then using a stainless-sleel spatula (or a bench-scraper) carefully lift the pastry sheet onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely while you make your pastry cream.
3. To make the pastry cream, firstly put the egg yolks and vanilla bean in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Slowly whisk on low speed for 30 seconds, then gradually add the caster sugar. Increase speed to medium and whisk for about 60 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then continue whisking together for about 2-3 minutes, until eggs are pale and mixture forms a ribbon when the whisk is lifted. Reduce speed to low, and add the custard powder. Whisk until mixture is smooth.
5. Pour the milk into a saucepan and heat over low heat until just below boiling point. remove from heat and slowly pour into the egg yolk mixture, while the mixer is running on the lowest speed.
6. Return the custard to a clean saucepan and set over medium heat. Stir continuously with hand whisk until it comes to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer for a further 5 minutes, whisking continuously until custard becomes thick.
7. Pour the pastry cream through a metal strainer, using a silicone spatula to help feed it through. Whisk it for another minute to allow it to cool slightly, before adding the butter. Pour into a glass dish and place plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
8. To assemble the vanilla slice, line a 20cm square baking tray with baking paper, allowing the baking paper to hang over the sides (this helps to lift the slice out once it is ready to serve). Using a serrated knife, cut each square of pastry to fit the inside of the baking tray. Place 1 pastry sheet on the bottom of the baking tray. Remove pastry cream from refrigerator and stir until it has a smooth and creamy consistency. Pour cream over the top of the pastry and smooth the surface with a palette knife. Place the remaining pastry on top. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours, or overnight.
9. To serve, remove slice from baking tray, and dust with icing sugar! x