28 Baker Crescent, Baulkham Hills, NSW
During this time of coronavirus restrictions, I was only able to travel a bit by virtue of having to return a borrowed item that was essential to the lender’s business. Having dropped off the item in Baulkham Hills, I checked out the nearest cake shop: David’s Cakes. Or perhaps Davids Cakes, with no apostrophe.
This is a typical suburban cake shop in a small cluster of corner shops amidst a residential area. Online reviews were not the greatest, but I’ll give anything a chance.
Walking in, they had coronavirus distancing spots stuck on the floor.
The place was interestingly decorated and had a bit of character with a collection of antique motoring items on shelves around the walls. A little more interesting than your average cake shop. And the products looked pretty good. Various tarts, flans, and quiches in the first display.
A selection of hot pies and sausage rolls.
And a bunch of classic cakes and slices. They had two sorts of vanilla slice: a classic Aussie snot block with yellow custard and passionfruit icing (left in above photo), and what I’ve come to think of as a “French” vanilla slice, with a white creamy filling (further right on the same shelf, between the fruit tarts and the Portuguese custard tarts).
Naturally I plumped for a sausage roll and an “Aussie” vanilla slice. I took them outside the the small park nearby to enjoy my lunch.
The sausage roll is a little on the small side. It’s fat enough, but quite short. It has an okay looking pastry shell, with semolina sprinkled on top for extra crunch, baked to a nice golden brown on top, though a little pale on the sides. The filling looks well done, with crispy meaty ends visible.
With a bite, the pastry turns out to be acceptable and a bit flaky, not bad in any way, but nothing to write home about. The meat filling is nice and hot; rich and meaty with plenty of salty seasoning. But the texture as bit suspicious, like a homogeneous mince of meat and breadcrumbs, but it’s not the worst I’ve had. There are no obvious chunks of onion or vegetables in the filling, nor any hints of fresh herbs. Despite the litany of sins, it’s tasty and not bad. I’ve had far worse than this, and when I finish it I’m disappointed that it wasn’t a more substantial size. Overall: inoffensive but not particularly good. A solid mid-range average.
Moving to the dessert portion, the vanilla slice brings back many memories of similar snot block slabs from my childhood. It has a rich looking passionfruit icing with seeds in, two layers of what looks like very crisp biscuit, with a wobbly slab of rectangular custard in between, of a mid yellow colour matching the icing. I’m happy about the passionfruit seeds – that’s a sign of a properly done icing. But the custard looks ominous, and wobbles like jelly when the slice is vibrated side to side.
Biting into the slice brings a mixed bag of sensations. The biscuit has unfortunately gone a bit soggy, with no snap or crunch but still a bit of firmness to the bite. The custard is solid and does not ooze out with compression between the biscuit layers. But it melts to a smooth consistency in the mouth with some tongue and palate pressure, which is better than being a solid chink of rubber like some “custards”. It’s very very bland though, almost watery in flavour with only the barest suggestion of vanilla. Then on the other hand there’s the icing. It’s really nice! Sweet and fruity, with a solid passionfruit flavour, which actually balances out the whole flavour of a big bite through all the layers. Overall, with each bite sampling all the layers, it’s actually not bad. Not very good either, but then the nostalgia of dodgy vanilla slices of days of yore actually makes this score a point higher than it otherwise would.
Sausage roll: 5/10
Vanilla slice: 6/10