Benalla

Yummy Lummy’s vanilla slice review

Over a five day road trip I enjoyed 5 types of vanilla slice

This post is dedicated to one of my favourite pastries, i.e., the vanilla slice. I’m not talking about the pooncy Mille-feulle that the French make. I’m talking about a good old fashioned vanilla slice that you find at school fetes, an Australian classic. An Australian legend. 

This post is not about the story of the vanilla slice and its iconic position in modern Australian history. This is my opinion (only) on what makes a good vanilla slice.

As I was driving home yesterday, I was chatting with Mum on the telephone. I was describing my holiday experience and the vanilla slices I’d eaten. We discussed how we remember vanilla slices from the time I was a young boy when you get them at the school tuck shop and at school fetes. 

In my mind a good vanilla slice isn’t too tall, that is, the layer of custard only needs to be a centimetre or so not the two or more centimetres you see in most shops. The custard should also be rich and creamy without too much gelatin. I’ve had some vanilla slices which I’m sure I could bounce off a wall because the custard was like a squash ball. You don’t want your tongue to slide off the custard, the custard needs to be soft enough that you can manipulate the custard with the tip of your tongue. You want to be able to savour and taste the custard, it needs to coat your tongue so that all the amazing flavour of the custard can give you that amazing rush. The pastry should be thin but not so flaky and hard that when you bite into it it cracks and creates a flaky snow storm. I don’t mean soggy, soggy pastry isn’t good, but soft to firm. This goes for both the bottom layer of pastry and the top layer. The icing is contentious. I’m a fan of both the passionfruit and pink icing variations. I’m not a fan of the white icing with chocolate swirls. That sort of fanciness has no place in vanilla slice making (IMHO). The icing needs to be subtle, sweet, but not sickly sweet. It also needs to be thin, not thick, thick makes it too sweet. The icing also needs to be soft so that when you bite into the slice your maxillary incisors can slice cleanly through the icing into the custard and the mandibular incisors cleanly slice through the pastry and into the custard. You don’t want to make a mess. You don’t want your fingers to be too sticky. You want to be able to eat a vanilla slice with your hands or if you’re with polite company with a fork. Modern day vanilla slices often have icing that is too thick or too ‘tempered’ so it snaps or embeds into the custard as you push down with a fork. 

In terms of shape and size, rectangles or squares are fine but not too big. Everything in moderation people, you want to have that feeling of wanting more but knowing you’ve had enough with just one slice. 

Okay here’s the lineup of vanilla slices from my recent holiday. 

Holbrook Bakery (central)

This was the first vanilla slice of the trip. It’s from the (central) Holbrook Bakery (there are two, viz., central and southern). You can see the icing has been dusted with icing sugar. I believe this is superfluous. If the pastry is too stiff when you bite in or when you use a fork the icing sugar goes all over the place, not a good thing if you’re wearing a black shirt. I made the mistake of going for the French vanilla slice which has a layer of cream. The cream was good but because the pastry was too hard you basically squirt the cream all over the place making for a messy experience. If I was eating this over my kitchen sink or in the bath tub with my hands that would be fine but not in a bakery or cafe. 

Vanilla slice from the central Holbrook bakery Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/30sec, ISO 40
Vanilla slice from the central Holbrook bakery Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/30sec, ISO 40

Henri’s Wodonga Bakery

Henri’s is a big bakery in the Coles car park in Wodonga. There’s a lot of tables and chairs and a great selection of cakes. The pastry and custard in this vanilla slice was good. The icing though was too thick. Way too thick. I lifted it off when I couldn’t get my fork through it. I ate the icing separately. I really enjoyed the custard and the pastry but the icing was too sweet. 

Vanilla slice from Henri's bakery in Wodonga Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/30sec, ISO 50
Vanilla slice from Henri’s bakery in Wodonga Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/30sec, ISO 50

Hides Bakery Benalla

So this was the only passionfruit icing I came across on my trip. It was really nice and the flavour was subtle. The tang of the passionfruit was there and contrasted nicely with the sweetness of the soft and light icing. The custard though was a little too gelatinous. 

Passionfruit vanilla slice from Hides Bakery in Benalla Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/30sec, ISO 40
Passionfruit vanilla slice from Hides Bakery in Benalla Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/30sec, ISO 40

Kemp’s Bakery in Kilmore

Before I describe the vanilla slice let me say this is a really good bakery/cafe. The staff are friendly and helpful. The tables and chairs are great and not too close together. The best part of the bakery is the toilets. Best, cleanest well lit toilets I came across on this trip. I’d happily read a newspaper in the toilets in Kemp’s Bakery in Kilmore. Now the icing on this vanilla is this pink. Can it be too pink? Who knows! What I found odd was the strawberry flavour in the icing. The custard was set a little too high and was a bit gelatinous too. 

Vanilla slice from Kemp's Bakery in Kilmore Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/120sec, ISO 32
Vanilla slice from Kemp’s Bakery in Kilmore Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/120sec, ISO 32

Beechworth Bakery in Beechworth

I didn’t have Beechworth in my original itinerary. That said, quite a few friends told me they thought the Beechworth vanilla slice was the best. One friend in particular who I know to be a connoisseur of vanilla slices thought Beechworth was the place to go. Given I was driving at a leisurely pace on this holiday, I took a detour from Wangaratta to Beechworth and then headed on to Holbrook. The Beechworth Bakery is impressive and if you check out yesterday’s post you’ll see why in the display case photograph I posted. This vanilla slice was certainly good. The custard wasn’t too high. The custard wasn’t too gelatinous. The pastry was softish. The icing though was thick. That said, the Beechworth Bakery Vanilla slice was probably the best of this trip and I’m glad I took some time out to visit. The better reason though to visit Beechworth Bakery is their beesting. OMG the best beesting ever. Custard in light sweet pastry. It was amazing. 

Vanilla slice from Beechworth Bakery

 

So have these vanilla slices been better than my all time favourite of recent years? NO The vanilla slice from the Gumnut Patisserie at Bowral (or Mittagong or Moss Vale) still ranks as the best even though it does have pooncy white icing with chocolate swirls. 

Sunday morning tea. Vanilla slices from Gumnut Patisserie in Bowral. The best vanilla slice in the world I reckon. | SONY ILCE-7S with E 35mm F1.8 OSS at 35mm and f/4, 1/1000sec, ISO 100
Sunday morning tea. Vanilla slices from Gumnut Patisserie in Bowral. The best vanilla slice in the world I reckon. | SONY ILCE-7S with E 35mm F1.8 OSS at 35mm and f/4, 1/1000sec, ISO 100

The last word on my vanilla slice journey comes from my Mum. “Gary you know the only way you’re going to enjoy the perfect vanilla slice is if you practice and make it yourself”.
 

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I also want to mention that one of the enjoyable parts of my driving holiday wasn’t just listening to podcasts on Star Trek and photography, but the book The Crossroad by Mark Donaldson, VC. It’s an open account of what made the man. I’d recommend the book to anyone interested in defending human rights, being Australian and loving life.  

So no more bakeries for me (for a week or two anyway) Do you have a vanilla slice story you’d like to share? Please leave a comment.  

1 vanilla slice, 1 hot pie, 1 coconut jam slice 1 whopper with onion rings

With the gymnastics competition over and Miss13 flying home to Brisbane I had to make my way back to Canberra. It was raining and cold when I left Geelong and it remained gloomy the whole drive to Wangaratta. 

My aim today was to take a leisurely drive through Kilmore, Euroa and Benalla stopping at each place and trying a bakery. 

This is the vanilla slice at Kemp’s Bakery in Kilmore. The bakery is really good. The range of products is large and for travellers the toilets are remarkable. They are so clean. The coffee is also pretty good. Unfortunately the icing on the vanilla slice was very thick making it difficult to break through with a fork. The icing though did have a discernable strawberry flavour. The custard had a nice flavour but it was too gelatinous. I’d happily eat vanilla slices there but they weren’t the best I’ve ever had. 

Vanilla slice from Kemp's Bakery in Kilmore Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/120sec, ISO 32
Vanilla slice from Kemp’s Bakery in Kilmore Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/120sec, ISO 32
Apple + Pro HDR iPhone with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/5000sec, ISO 32
Apple + Pro HDR iPhone with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/5000sec, ISO 32

I drove through to Euroa while listening to Trek.fm podcasts and stopped at Burkes Bakery. The pies they had on selection were the usual ones you’d see in a country bakery but the bloke serving behind the counter suggested the steak with bacon and egg pie. It was very good and served at perfect eating temperature. It wasn’t too hot and it wasn’t cold. The filling was thick enough that it didn’t fall out after the first bite. The pastry was light but not so flaky that I got it all over me. I’d say it was a perfect casing for what was a very good filling. 

Sunday lunch. Steak, bacon and egg pie from Burkes Bakery in Euroa Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/20sec, ISO 200
Sunday lunch. Steak, bacon and egg pie from Burkes Bakery in Euroa Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/20sec, ISO 200

Even though I’d been making good progress I was wanting to go to Hides Bakery in Benalla again for a coffee. I was feeling very tired after another poor sleep and thought a stop for some caffiene would help. When I arrived I noticed they’d sold out of vanilla slices but I did see a nice looking coconut and jam slice. I do like a coconut and jam slice. 

Coconut and jam slice from Hides Bakery in Benalla Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/40sec, ISO 40
Coconut and jam slice from Hides Bakery in Benalla Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/40sec, ISO 40

I’m spending the night at the Millers Cottage motor inn in Wangaratta. It’s a budget motel and my guess it has been in operation since at least the 1970s. The decor is 1970s.

I was thinking of finding a restaurant but I felt too tired so I went and found a fast food joint and bought a burger. Yep, Hungry Jacks whopper and onion rings. 

Sunday dinner. Hungry Jacks Whopper and onion rings in Wangaratta. SONY ILCE-7S with FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS at 70mm and f/8, 1/80sec, ISO 2500
Sunday dinner. Hungry Jacks Whopper and onion rings in Wangaratta. SONY ILCE-7S with FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS at 70mm and f/8, 1/80sec, ISO 2500

So how did you spend your Sunday? I hope it was a good one. Bye for now. 

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This is the route I took today.

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Check it out ­čÖé 

1 Vanilla slice 1 Pie 1 laksa 0 dessert

It’s day two of my holiday adventure. Today I drove from Wangaratta to Geelong. I was expecting it to take about four hours but I ended up spending more than three hours in bumper to bumper traffic because of two major accidents on the Princess Highway just past the Melbourne airport.

I woke up at the Parkview Motor Inn in Wangaratta with welts on my skin because there were biting midges in the bed. I didn’t sleep well and missed having my CPAP machine. After two instant coffees and a shower I felt well enough to check out and head for Benalla. I found Hides Bakery and enjoyed a passion fruit iced vanilla slice and coffee for breakfast. 

Passionfruit vanilla slice from Hides Bakery in Benalla Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/30sec, ISO 40
Passionfruit vanilla slice from Hides Bakery in Benalla Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/30sec, ISO 40
Hides Bakery Benalla Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/150sec, ISO 32
Hides Bakery Benalla Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/150sec, ISO 32

After Benalla I made my way to Wallan expecting the Top of the Town Bakery to be a suitable place to find lunch. 

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Hands free selfie using the camera timer Apple iPhone 5 with iPhone 5 front camera 2.18mm f/2.4 at 2mm and f/2.4, 1/40sec, ISO 32
Hands free selfie using the camera timer Apple iPhone 5 with iPhone 5 front camera 2.18mm f/2.4 at 2mm and f/2.4, 1/40sec, ISO 32

What I found was a relatively small bakery with a couple of old warped tables. I bought a beef, bacon and cheese pie and found a park to eat lunch. 

Beef bacon and cheese pie from Top of the Town Bakery Wallan Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/400sec, ISO 32
Beef bacon and cheese pie from Top of the Town Bakery Wallan Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/400sec, ISO 32

It was still midday when I set off and I thought I’d make good progress getting to Geelong with the thought I might have an afternoon at the Geelong Arena. In the end I sat in traffic for more than three hours.

Princess Highway traffic Apple iPhone 5 with iPhone 5 back camera 4.12mm f/2.4 at 4mm and f/2.4, 1/1600sec, ISO 50
Princess Highway traffic Apple iPhone 5 with iPhone 5 back camera 4.12mm f/2.4 at 4mm and f/2.4, 1/1600sec, ISO 50

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On getting to Geelong I checked in and tried to relax a little.

Later in the afternoon I went for a walk to Corio Wharf and then found a Thai restaurant to have dinner. 

Public art Corio Wharf Geelong SONY ILCE-7S with FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS at 24mm and f/8, 1/500sec, ISO 100
Public art Corio Wharf Geelong SONY ILCE-7S with FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS at 24mm and f/8, 1/500sec, ISO 100
Public art Corio Wharf Geelong. It looks like a shark tooth. SONY ILCE-7S with FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS at 35mm and f/4, 1/800sec, ISO 100
Public art Corio Wharf Geelong. It looks like a shark tooth. SONY ILCE-7S with FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS at 35mm and f/4, 1/800sec, ISO 100
Seagull Corio Wharf SONY ILCE-7S with FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS at 70mm and f/4, 1/1250sec, ISO 100
Seagull Corio Wharf SONY ILCE-7S with FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS at 70mm and f/4, 1/1250sec, ISO 100
Corio Wharf SONY ILCE-7S with FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS at 24mm and f/4, 1/2500sec, ISO 100
Corio Wharf SONY ILCE-7S with FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS at 24mm and f/4, 1/2500sec, ISO 100
Corio Wharf SONY ILCE-7S with FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS at 27mm and f/4, 1/160sec, ISO 100
Corio Wharf SONY ILCE-7S with FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS at 27mm and f/4, 1/160sec, ISO 100
Corio Wharf SONY ILCE-7S with FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS at 70mm and f/4, 1/2000sec, ISO 100
Corio Wharf SONY ILCE-7S with FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS at 70mm and f/4, 1/2000sec, ISO 100
A Touch of Thai Geelong Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/60sec, ISO 32
A Touch of Thai Geelong Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/60sec, ISO 32
A Touch of Thai Geelong Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/15sec, ISO 100
A Touch of Thai Geelong Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/15sec, ISO 100

I asked for the salt and chilli squid plus a BBQ pork laksa. Both were hot like fire from the chilli. The laksa was very spicy and the coconut milk wasn’t as creamy as I’ve had elsewhere. Overall both were really nice dishes. 

Salt and chilli squid at A Touch of Thai, Geelong Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/30sec, ISO 32
Salt and chilli squid at A Touch of Thai, Geelong Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/30sec, ISO 32
BBQ pork laksa at A Touch of Thai, Geelong Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/30sec, ISO 40
BBQ pork laksa at A Touch of Thai, Geelong Apple iPhone 6 with iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at 4mm and f/2.2, 1/30sec, ISO 40