Pat a Cake, Pat a Cake, Baker’s Man
In 1997 the Premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennett, visited the small town of Ouyen in the Mallee region of north western Victoria. While he was there he had a coffee and a vanilla slice from the Mallee Bakery and declared it to be the best vanilla slice he had ever eaten.
This declaration saw the establishment of The Great Vanilla Slice Triumph, held in Ouyen every year from 1998 to 2011. Bakers across Australia were challenged to create their version of this delicious, sweet pastry in order to find the best vanilla slice in the country and its baker. Jeff Kennett said: “…the pursuit of the best vanilla slice baker in Australia should be of great national interest. I encourage bakers throughout Australia to rise up and pit their skills against their peers…”. Hundreds of aspiring patissiers have answered his call over the years.
According to Wikipedia, the judging criteria for the best vanilla slice include “a custard with a creamy smooth texture and a balance of vanilla taste with a crisp, crunchy pastry topped with a smooth and shiny glaze/fondant”. Doesn’t that sound exquisite?
When I realised I was going to be travelling through Ouyen I knew that the Mallee Bakery would be my first port of call. I made sure I was there early before any other greedy travellers as I’d heard that the slices sell out fast.
With my purchase made I found a quiet picnic area. Jeff Kennett was right – the vanilla slice was delightful, divine and downright delectable!
I didn’t leave a single crumb!