3/1A The Corso, Manly, New South Wales
After filling up on the amazing sausage roll around the corner at Infinity Bakery, I had to make a bit of a trek in search of a vanilla slice for dessert. Not too far, fortunately, for on the western end of The Corso lies The Corso Bakehouse, a typical old style Aussie bakery with a store front and a counter, selling cakes, slices, pies, and freshly baked bread, as well as drinks from a fridge emblazoned with a Coca Cola logo. No cafe seating here, but they do have a line in fresh sandwiches to take away, with an Asian twist that includes pork rolls.
In the large glass-fronted display is a huge tray of classic looking vanilla slices, nestled amidst other tempting looking sweets. The slices have a slightly rustic look, with the white icing scribbled with some very hasty and rudimentary looking brown markings, as though someone knew the classic parenthesis shape that they were supposed to have, but had done it at rapid speed in between checking the ovens.
I ordered a slice, and asked the woman behind the counter to place it on top of one of the brown paper bags, rather than tucking it inside, where it would be difficult to extricate without spoiling the neatness. So armed, I walked out to the pedestrian mall and found a seat to sit and examine the treat. It felt cold in my hand, revealing the refrigeration of the cake display in the bakery. The construction was a straightforward single sandwich with a tall layer of quite intensely banana-flesh yellow custard, topped and tailed by layers of chunky looking pastry. The icing on top was white and a little thicker than I normally like, a good two millimetres.
It turned out to be easy to bite into, with the pastry giving way with a pliant softness. It was slightly firm, but yielding and not crunchy. It flexed beneath the teeth, before giving way and allowing the bite to continue through the custard without squeezing it out all over the place. This allowed the slice to hold together coherently through the entire devouring process. The pastry was not soggy, it just seemed to have lost any crispness it may have had. It could have been better, but honestly wasn’t terrible.
The custard was really nice. Rich, thick, dense, with a good hand-made texture, and creamy with loads of vanilla flavour. It was slightly firm, helping to keep the slice in one piece as I made my way through it, but not gelatinous. It wasn’t too sweet, which is good to see, as the icing on top added the sugar hit that made the whole construction blend well in the mouth. The custard was really pretty good. If it had some pastry with a bit of crunch and flake to it, this could have been a really high scorer, but it’ll have to settle for a couple of notches above average.
Vanilla slice: 7/10.