Strawberry custard slice

Some call this dessert millefeuille but I never cook anything I can’t pronounce. But custard slices? There’s a joyous childhood memory! Try this classic version, culled from some good friends’ personal cookbooks.

To make custard slices – or maybe even millefeuille – for four, you will need:

For the custard:

  • 1 genuine vanilla pod
  • 2 eggs
  • 300ml full cream milk
  • 40g white flour
  • 70g castor sugar

For the pastry:

    • 450g puff pastry
    • 15g to 20g butter
  • 15g castor sugar

Final assembly:

  • 1 punnet fresh strawberries

Given that there is no better way to make a trifle than with Ultramel, why aren’t we using this astonishing product right now? Three answers, all debatable. First, we all really love hard work and massive finesse in our food. Second, the flour in this custard recipe produces a denser product, less likely to drip all over your clothes. Third, the genuine vanilla pod, a true magic wand of flavour and aroma.

So to get started: preheat the oven to 200°C. Butter up a baking pan or use a silicone baking-pan liner. Unpack the store-bought pastry and roll it out to a thickness of 3mm. Place it on the baking pan and let it rest for five minutes or so. Using a pastry brush (or in my case a brand new, washed and rewashed 12mm paint brush from the hardware store), brush a little cold water over the top of the pastry, stab it all over with a fork and sprinkle it with some of the castor sugar.

Shove it into the oven for 25 minutes or until it is brown and risen. While this is going on, get moving on the home-made custard. Select a heavy-based saucepan from your collection and pour in the full cream milk. Bring this to the near boil then remove from the heat. In a mixing bowl, cream together the two eggs and the 70g of castor sugar. Mix in the white flour, then add the hot milk. Stir well to evenly distribute the ingredients.

Prepare the vanilla pod by splitting it vertically to reveal the seeds. Alternatively, a couple of drops of synthetic vanilla essence are a barely acceptable substitute. Pour the hot milk mixture back into the saucepan and add the split vanilla pod. Return the pan to the hob on a low simmer and, stirring all the while, let the contents cook for 15 minutes maximum. Do not let it boil. Take it off the hob, remove the used vanilla pod, cover the pan and let it cool.

Now prepare the fresh strawberries by slicing them vertically and removing the green bits. Assembly time: cut the pastry into custard slice-sized strips. Place a spoonful of the freshly made custard on top and add some strawberry fragments. Fit a second layer, add half the first amount of custard plus a strawberry or two, sprinkle with castor sugar and serve. It’s that simple and a hit every time!

Contact David Basckin at [email protected]. Please state ‘Real cooking’ in the subject line of your email.