Why am I making cake in January? Because it’s my birthday! Well, not mine exactly, but the bun scuffle blog is 5 years old today! Soon I’ll have to start doing proper joined up writing and everything.
January birthdays are great, just as I finally rid the house of Christmas excess I have an excuse to make more cake. In this case the Bavarian slice. Not your typical birthday cake I concede but I have been thinking about doing this blog for a little while now because I love a Bavarian slice.
This was my cake of choice as a teenager. I grew up in Northwich; a market town in the North West of England. A local bakery had two shops in Northwich and a café (where I had my first Saturday job) and they sold wonderful cakes – including these beauties. Every Saturday I would hope that there would be one left at the end of the day, in which case I might be allowed to eat it! I was occasionally tempted to hide one but was always just a little too scared of my boss to do so. It never occurred to me that they might not be available everywhere but I moved to Cornwall seventeen years ago and I haven’t seen one since.
They are not quite a custard slice and not quite a cream slice but somehow are a delicious combination of the two. A rich crème pâtissière is mixed with whipped cream (which I believe makes it a crème légère) and sandwiched between two crisp layers of puff pastry. The bottom layer of pastry is topped with jam and the top layer is coated with a simple glacé icing.
I am not quite sure why they are called Bavarian slices but I suspect that the name is based on a Bavarian cream (crème Bavarois) which is a creamy custard set with gelatin and formed in a mould. In fact I suspect that the pastries I enjoyed in my teens were also firmed up with the addition of some gelatin as the creamy centre in these is definitely softer than I remember. But I couldn’t find a proper recipe for a Bavarian slice – I don’t even know if they are really “a thing” but I have made these from a flavour memory and they are delicious and that is all I have to say on the subject!
Happy birthday bun scuffle me!
Makes 4 Bavarian Slices
1 pack of pre-rolled, ready made Puff Pastry (you can of course make your own if you wish).
Pre-heat the oven to 200C / 400F / Gas mark 6.
Unroll the pastry and lay it on a sheet of baking parchment (the one it comes with is fine) on a baking tray. Top the pastry with another layer of parchment and place a second, heavy baking tray on top: This will help to keep the pastry flat as it bakes. If you are making your own pastry (or using a bought block) roll it out into a rectangle approximately 3mm thick and a fraction smaller than your baking tray.
Place the pastry on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for around 20 – 25 minutes until golden and crispy.
Remove the pastry from the oven and transfer carefully to a rack to cool. Once cold, use a sharp knife and a ruler to cut it into 8 equal sized squares; mine were approximately 8cm x 8cm which I think is big enough but the final size is entirely up to you. Set aside until needed.
The Custard (Crème Patissière)
80g Caster Sugar
4 Egg Yolks
25g Corn Flour
1 Vanilla Pod
350 ml of Whole Milk
Put the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and whisk until thick and creamy then whisk in the corn flour.
Slice down the side of the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds with the back of a knife. Put the pod and the seeds into a saucepan with the milk and bring it slowly just up to the boil.
Remove the pan from the heat and fish out the vanilla pod then leave the milk to rest for 30 seconds or so, to ensure that it is no longer boiling. Pour the milk onto the egg mixture, whisking all the time.
Return the mixture to the pan over a low-medium heat and stir continuously until it comes up to a gentle boil. It has to boil to thicken but if it boils too vigorously you will get bits of scrambled egg in your custard. Simmer, stirring all the time, for 2 minutes or so until it has thickened.
Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl, cover the surface with cling film (or sprinkle with icing sugar) and leave to cool. This will stop a skin from forming.
If it looks a little lumpy whisk it well as it cools, if this doesn’t resolve the problem you can push it through a sieve to remove any stubborn lumps.
3-4 tbsp Raspberry Jam
150 ml Double Cream
100g Icing Sugar
Choose the four best looking squares of pastry – these will form the top of the slices. Mix the icing sugar with a tablespoon of boiling water. You want a mixture that is thick and smooth and spreadable. If it is too thick add more water a drop at a time – honestly, this mixture can go from too stiff to stir to watery gloop in the blink of an eye.
Spread an even layer of icing over the top of each of the chosen pastry squares. Put in a cool place to set (the fridge is fine). If you prefer you can pipe a neat border around each square and then fill it in with the remaining icing.
Whip the double cream until it is thick but not too stiff. Fold it into the cooled crème pâtissière.
Spread an even layer of jam on each of the four remaining pastry squares. Top with a generous layer of the crème patissiere; you can spoon it on and spread it with a palette knife or, if you prefer, you can pipe it.
Top each slice with an iced square of pastry and there you have it – a beautiful Bavarian Slice. Normally I would feel compelled to add some adornment – a raspberry or two or some feathering but, as this is a nostalgia bake, I left mine plain and simple as they were in my memory. You, on the other hand, might want to indulge in a little prettification.