With its creamy custard center and light, flaky pastry, vanilla slice is a delightful, dreamy dessert that's popular throughout Australia and New Zealand. Classic vanilla slice is similar to the French mille-feuille pastry. Vanilla slice can be flavored with either vanilla or chocolate, and sometimes has added fruit-flavored icing.
It's an amazing teatime treat and is surprisingly easy to make – anyone can do it! If you want to make an eye-catching dessert that's perfect in its simplicity, this classic vanilla slice recipe is for you.
Vanilla slice is made with a rich, homemade vanilla custard that is sandwiched between two sheets of beautiful golden brown, flaky puff pastry. Some versions have added icing and occasionally, you'll see versions made from chocolate. Vanilla slice is made with pantry staples you may already have at home. You'll need flour, cold butter, and cold water to make the pastry – the colder the better when it comes to making flaky pastry.
To make the custard, you'll need to heat milk, sugar, and vanilla beans. To get the best vanilla flavor, be sure to use vanilla beans rather than vanilla extract. It'll make a huge difference. Egg yolks and cornstarch will help thicken it up and give it that gorgeous silky consistency, while a little extra butter will make your custard rich and delicious.
To make vanilla slice, pulse the flour, salt, cold butter, and water in a food processor. Pulse the processor to form a dough, then turn it our and roll the dough into a disk. Pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes. Cut the dough in half and roll it out into a large rectangle. Fold it into thirds, quarter-turn the dough, then roll it out again. Repeat two more times, then cover it and repeat the process with the remaining dough. Place both halves in the fridge for at least half an hour. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then roll out the dough into an 11×10 inch rectangle. Put it on the baking sheet, then cover the dough with a piece of baking parchment followed by another baking sheet. Bake the dough for 15 minutes, then press down on the baking sheet. Bake for another 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Take it out of the oven, remove the top baking sheet and let the pastry cool completely. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
While the pastry is baking, it's time to make the custard. One thing that's key to making perfect custard is to stir constantly as your cooking it. Combine the milk, half the sugar, vanilla beans and seeds in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once it begins to steam, remove the vanilla beans. Combine the egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining sugar in a large bowl. Slowly add it to the milk. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook it for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Strain through a sieve, then stir in the butter. Cover with cling film making sure it touches the custard. This will prevent a skin from forming on the top. Leave for 10 minutes at room temperature. Now it's time to assemble the vanilla slice! Line a pan with parchment paper. Cut the two sheets of pastry to fit the pan. Put one sheet in the pan, then gently pour the custard over the top. Top the custard with the second sheet of pastry, then cover the pan and place it in the fridge to set for a few hours. Once the vanilla slice sets, remove it from the pan and cut it into slices. Sprinkle it generously with powdered sugar and enjoy!
Make sure the cling film touches the custard. This will prevent a skin from forming.
Leave some overhang in the pan before assembling the vanilla slice. This will make it easier to remove after it has set.
To jazz up your vanilla slice, you can add icing. Passionfruit, raspberry, and strawberry would all be delicious options. You could add cocoa powder to make a chocolate version.
To simplify this recipe, you can use store-bought puff pastry instead of making your own from scratch.
Keep your vanilla slice in an airtight container in the fridge. It will last up to 2 days.
Lightly flour a work surface.
Add flour and 2 teaspoons of salt to a food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until the mixture is coarse and the butter is evenly distributed. Gradually pour in the ice water, pulsing the food processor as your add it in.
Once the dough comes together, turn it out onto the prepared work surface, form it into a disk, then cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
Cut the dough in half.
Roll one half into a large rectangle.
Fold the dough into thirds.
Fold it into quarter-turn, then roll it out again. Repeat two more times.
Wrap in cling film and repeat the process with the other half of the dough, then place both halves in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out half of the dough into an 11×10 inch rectangle and arrange it on the baking sheet. Lay a piece of baking parchment over the top then place a baking sheet on top of the dough. Bake for 15 minutes, then press down on the baking sheet to release air. Bake for another 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Take it out of the oven, remove the top baking sheet and let the pastry cool completely. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
Whisk milk, 2/3 cup sugar, vanilla beans, and scraped vanilla bean seeds in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once it begins to steam, remove the vanilla beans.
Whisk the egg yolks, cornstarch, 2/3 cup sugar, and remaining salt in a large bowl.
Slowly whisk the milk mixture into the egg mixture, stirring constantly.
Pour the liquid back into the saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Strain through a sieve, then stir in the butter.
Cover with cling film making sure it touches the custard. Leave for 10 minutes at room temperature.
Line an 8×8-inch pan with parchment paper. Cut the two pastries into 8-inch squares. Put one sheet in the pan.
Pour the custard over the top of the pastry.
Spread the custard evenly.
Cover with the second pastry. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours to set.
Once set, remove from pan and cut into slices and garnish with powdered sugar.
Use an 8×8-inch square pan to make your vanilla slice.