I'd attempted this once before, with not much luck,. However this time I was determined to succeed given that I had the right size pan, a strategy to deal with the awkwardness of cutting through the puff pastry and few exuses for failure. Why Vanilla Slice? Because it was served at our Christmas Day lunch and we took some home and couldn't stop eating it. I particularly love the challenge of keeping the pastry crisp and the custard intact.
This recipe is based on one in the Women's Weekly "Old Fashioned Favourites" Cookbook with only minor variations.
2 sheets puff pastry - make sure you get the butter puff.
1/2 cup (110 gm) caster sugar
1/2 cup (75gm) cornflour
1/4 cup (30gm) custard powder
2 1/2 cups (625ml) full-cream milk
1 egg yolk
1 vanilla bean
3/4 cup thickened cream
1 1/2 cups (240gm) icing sugar
1 teaspoon soft butter
1/4 cup passionfruit pulp
1 teaspoon lime juice
1. Preheat oven to between 240 and 260 degrees (Celsius), and line a square 23cm cake tin with foil. (Or alternatively butter the cake tin and carefully line with baking paper.) Extend the foil or baking paper about 10 cm over edge.
2. Place two sheets of puff pastry on breadboard. Measure and mark out 24 rectangles of the same size. (These should be around 4 cm X 5.5 cm). Place on baking tray lined with baking paper. Cut through the markings. Repeat with second sheet of pastry, making sure it is cut exactly the same as the first.
3. Bake in oven till brown and crisp. Allow to cool and gently place your hand over pastry to crush out any large flakes. Place two sheets of pastry in baking tin to check that they align. Trim as necessary.
4. For custard, combine sugar, cornflour, custard powder and scraped vanilla bean (and bean) in medium saucepan and gradually add milk. Continue stirring as the mixture heats up to prevent any lumps forming. Add butter and stir through. Take off heat and stir through egg yolk. Strain custard through fine mesh strainer into a tray or pie dish. Cover top completely with plastic wrap and place in fridge till cool.
5. Whip thickened cream and fold through cool custard. Keep in fridge till you are ready to use.
6. For passionfruit icing, place all ingredients in heat proof bowl and place over saucepan of boiling water, making sure the water does not tough the bottom of the bowl. Sitr through until icing is spreadable. Turn off heat and keep icing warm.
7. To assemble the Vanilla slice, place one layer of pastry on the bottom of the 23cm cake tin. Pour in custard, then place the second layer over custard, making sure the pieces align. Spread passionfruit icing over tip.
8. To serve, sprinkle icing sugar on top.
Mine turned out absolutely fab, and I am drooling just remembering eating them. Might be time to make another batch.