Maria has also been on the hunt for a perfect vanilla slice. She has photos which are even fattening to look at.
Now this pre-occupation with the perfect vanilla slice is all well and good but what about that other slice which has been corrupted from something fine and delicious, downgraded to a blob of fatty pastry and glueified (if it's not a word, it should be) spongieform apples from a tin.
Where is the search for the perfect Apple Slice?
The one with the tart Granny Smith apple puree. The crisp biscuit short pastry on the bottom and on the top, a soft cake pastry shining with glaze, cinnamon and sugar. The slice that can only be enjoyed with a dollop of King Island double cream, on a plate with a cake fork. Make that two dollops of double cream, I'm dreaming of a large slice.
I went back through myGrandmother's cake book, the one that has enough DNA from baking to qualify as a dessert by itself. I was struck by the simplicity of the ingredients. From white flour, eggs, dried fruit, spices and vanilla essence (not even extract) delicious cakes emerged from tiny gas or wood fired ovens with a minimum of effort. Not on my part, cakes take precision and I'm a 'chuck it all in and hope for the best' baker. These cakes didn't need emulsifiers, artificial colours (marble cake excepted) hydrolised whatevers, preservatives or several different kinds of sugar under various names which are on every supermarket shelf. They were made and consumed on the day. It was a real trip down the kitchen memory lane. I think I gained 2kgs.
When was the last time you saw a cream puff that could only be held with two hands? My Grandmother made those, with whipped cream, dusted with icing sugar and strawberries (in season, only in season). Now we get pissy little profiteroles with custard and chocolate icing, a mouthful not a handful. And puff pastry matches. My memory is fuzzy here, I'm sure they weren't really 12 inches long it just seemed they were. Once again, whipped cream, raspberry jam and pink icing (had to be pink) on fresh made puff pastry. The recipe for puff pastry is in the book and believe me, this is one time when the bought pastry is better if you want to live long enough to eat it. Making it takes time, time and more time.
The only cake I can make with any success is Gingerbread cake with lemon icing and I make that because it freezes well so I can't eat it in one go. I have been known to snarf it while still frozen so that trick is only half successful. It also uses Golden Syrup which is really hard to get off spoons and measuring jugs so there's a lot of 'licking before washing' involved in making this cake.
So I throw out a challenge, let all go forth and find the elusive Apple Slice, the one true Apple Slice of olden days.