Hi! Welcome to my blog. I am a major foodie, with a haphazard cooking philosophy, currently making that transition from cooking and baking for friends and family to 'wonder if I could make this my career'. Follow me for recipes, the outcomes of a few experiments, and general lovely foodiness. Opinions, reviews and recommendations are all my own.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Custard Slices: GBBO Comic Relief Challenge Three

So far in my self-inflicted challenge to re-create the Technical Bakes from the Comic Relief GBBO episodes, I have attempted Chocolate Eclairs, and Bakewell Tart, with some reasonable successes. I'm not going to lie - I got a little bit cocky. So I decided that the third challenge to face would be the Custard Slices. For this, I am using Paul Hollywood's recipe from the BBC Food site.

I dutifully purchased the required ingredients, and tonight set about reading the recipe and preparing to conquer the Custard Slice. Then I realised two things. Firstly, I have never made rough puff pastry before in my life... and secondly, I have never made patisserie crème, nor have I ever successfully mastered custard from scratch. Needless to say, my confidence was immediately shot. 

None-the-less, I bravely opened the packet of flour, and started sifting. As with the previous challenges, I will copy the recipe and instructions below, with some photos of the process. These are my main notes from the recipe.

Making the rough puff pastry was surprisingly straight-forward, the instructions were clear - the key I figured out was to handle it as little as possible. I only used about two thirds of the water stated in the recipe until the pastry came together, so stopped adding it then. The rolling, folding and resting sequence is quite time consuming, in fact this recipe is one for a leisurely afternoon or evening bake, as there are lots of steps for mixing, cooling, assembling, and quite a few breaks in between. (It does give you plenty of time to clean up and wash up in between stages though).

I was quite pleased with my pastry, although both sheets did puff up more on one side than the other, and the bottom sheet flaked quite a bit when I transferred it to the tin. 

The patisserie crème was the bit that I was most daunted by, and I think I cooked it a touch too long as I had to work really hard to get it through the sieve at the end but other than that I managed to follow the recipe fairly uneventfully. 

I assembled the pastry and patisserie crème, and finally spread the icing over the top layer. As both my sheets of pastry were a bit bumpy, I turned the top sheet over so that the flat bottom side was facing upwards (I'm all for using illusion to hide mistakes!). I drew on the lines of melted chocolate, and pulled a cocktail stick through to create the 'feathered' effect, and voilà! By no means perfect, but I was happy with the first attempt, and most importantly they tasted great! Home-made is always better than shop-bought! 


The Recipe: taken from the BBC Food website


For the rough puff pastry
  • 225g/8oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 200g/7oz butter, chilled and cut into 1cm/½in cubes
  • 140-160ml/5-5½fl oz water
For the crème pâtissière
For the icing

Preparation method

  1. In a large bowl mix the flour and salt together. Rub in a third of the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Then roughly rub in the remaining butter, leaving large lumps.

  2. Add the water a little at a time until the pastry just binds together (you may not need all the water).

  3. Tip the pastry out onto a floured work surface. Roll into a narrow rectangle about 2.5cm/1in thick.

  4. With the pastry vertically in front of you fold the bottom third of the pastry up onto the middle third then the top third down onto the other thirds. This is called a turn.

  5. Wrap the pastry in cling film and place in the refrigerator to chill for 10 minutes

  6. Take out of fridge and with a rolling pin roll out again into a narrow rectangle and repeat the turn as before.

  7. Chill again and repeat the rolling and turning once more, so a total of three times. Wrap the pastry in cling film and return to the fridge to rest.
  8. While the pastry is resting, make the crème pâtissière. Pour the milk into a pan and add the split vanilla pod and its seeds. Bring the milk mixture to the boil, then remove from the heat.

  9. Whisk the sugar, egg yolks and cornflour together in a large bowl.


  10. Pour out a little of the hot milk onto the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Whisk in the rest of the hot milk until well-combined, then return to the pan.
  11. Cook the mixture over a gentle heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture becomes thick. It will just come to the boil.
  12. Remove from the heat and pass the mixture through a sieve into a clean bowl. Add the butter and stir until melted and thoroughly combined.

  13. Leave to cool, cover with clingfilm and then chill before using.
  14. Pre-heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Line two baking trays with baking parchment.
  15. Divide the pastry into two equal pieces and roll out both pieces to 20cm/8in square and 5mm/¼in thick. Then place each pastry sheet onto the lined baking trays, and chill for 10-15 minutes.

  16. Bake the pastry sheets for 10-15 minutes or until golden-brown and crisp. Set aside to cool.

  17. While the pastry bakes, line a deep 23cm/9in square baking tray with foil with plenty of extra foil at the sides. The extra foil allows you to lift out the assembled slices.

  18. Place one pastry sheet in bottom of the lined baking tray. (Reserve the prettiest piece for the top.)

  19. Spread the crème pâtissière evenly onto the pastry in the baking tray before placing other piece of pastry, on top. Refrigerate while making the icing.

  20. For the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Stir in cold water until thoroughly combined and set aside.
  21. Transfer the melted chocolate into a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle, and set aside to firm up slightly.
  22. Take the custard slice from the fridge and spread the icing over the top layer of pastry.

  23. Using the piping bag, draw ten parallel lines along the top of the icing in one direction. Using a tooth pick, pull parallel lines about 2.5cm/1in across the melted chocolate and icing in alternating directions to create a feathered effect.

  24. Place the slice back into the fridge to set.
  25. Cut the finished vanilla slice into eight pieces.

  26. Using the foil carefully lift the portioned vanilla slices out of the tray and place onto a serving platter.


  1. I was really intimidated when I watched these being made on GBBO as there seemed to be so many areas where I could go wrong! However your results absolutely look delicious and I'm now quite tempted by the challenge!

    1. Hi Lucy - I know what you mean I felt exactly the same! There's loads of steps to it, however when you break them down they're actually quite straight forward - and they taste way better than shop ones, even if they don't look perfect - well worth having a go I promise :-)

  2. SO impressed you did this! Major well done for the icing - I have never dared attempt it!

    1. Thanks! You really should brave it and have a go, they taste so much better than shop ones :-)


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