A vanilla slice is a delicious concoction of creme patissiere sandwiched between puff pastry layers and topped with simple sugar frosting, or fondant icing. It is a popular choice for an afternoon treat in England.
My recipe is a simple version of the very neat traditional slice (sometimes known as a Napolean, or millefeuille). I find making a very neat wedge is difficult. For me, afternoon tea is about fun and great tasting food.
There are various discussions online on how to cut these delectable morsels so that you get the classic straight edge! But I make it really easy on myself and I don't even try. If you do decide to try, don't add cream to the filling. You will need the creme patissiere to be stiff and the cream loosens it.
I bake the puff pastry sheets, cut them into squares, and then fill them with creme patissiere or just whipped cream and then top them individually with frosting.
This recipe really does benefit from using classic puff pastry because of the lightness of the layers. If you are really rushed, you can use rough puff pastry and they'll still be delicious.
If you want to be classical, you can leave the cream out of the filling and just fill them with pastry cream (creme patissiere). But we like the lighter version with the cream.
I think traditionally vanilla slices are topped with fondant icing, but I wouldn't make a fondant icing for such a small amount. I use a simple sugar icing and it tastes fantastic.
The beauty of this recipe is that you can make the pastry and the creme patissiere the day before and make these easily just a couple of hours before afternoon tea time.
Vanilla Slice Recipe
Time: 40 minutes
(once pastry and creme
patissiere is made)
(if you make your own pastry)
Makes about 24 little slices
One third quantity puff pastry
Double quantity of creme patissiere
125ml (1/2 cup) whipping cream
- Preheat the oven to gas mark 4, 350F.
- Roll out the puff pastry as thinly as you can possibly manage. Keep it in a rectangular shape. It doesn't matter if it's long and thin. It's better to roll in the same direction with puff pastry for maximum layers.
- Cut the pastry into rectangles that will fit on your baking sheet. They will shrink slightly as they cook.
- Prick the pastry with a fork. Do about one prick for every square inch. This stops the pastry from rising too much.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack with a palette knife and allow to cool.
- Once they are cool, press them lightly with the palm of your hand to slighly flatten the layers down. Don't squash them, though, just break the top layers a little.
- Now they are ready to cut. For the best looking vanilla slices, trim the edges away from the cooked rectangles before you cut them into 5cm (2 inches) squares. It doesn't matter if they're a little bigger or smaller.
- the cream and then beat into the creme patissiere. Put the mixture into a piping bag with a 2 inch nozzle and squeeze a large blob onto half the squares of pastry.
- Carefully place the rest of the squares on top to sandwich the creme patissiere. Place the top pieces on upside down so that there is a flat surface on the top.
- Mix up the icing sugar with a little water. You need a consistency that is easy to spread, but not too runny. If it is too runny, it will just run over the sides. This does actually look really pretty, but ideally you want the icing to be in a thickish layer on the top.
That's it! You can keep them in the fridge for a couple of hours, but take them out 30 minutes before you want to eat them. They should be served at room temperature. It's best to make them as close to eating time as possible.
Vanilla slices are perfect served as part of a full afternoon tea. I love them with chocolate eclairs, mini meringues and chocolate dipped strawberries for a really decadent display on a tiered cake stand. Serve with a plate full of finger sandwiches and Earl Grey tea or fresh mint tea for a truly beautiful afternoon tea spread.
When we have them on their own, I love vanilla slices with Moroccan mint tea.
If you enjoyed this Vanilla Slice Recipe, you might love our Chocolate Eclair Recipe.