Recipes

vanilla custard slices

I made these vanilla custard slices from Edd Kimber in August and we loved them — they’re like a rustic Napoleon or mille-feuille, at a fraction of the fuss — but declared them “not August food” and better saved for December because they feel elegant and a little festive. But now it’s December and, at times, I know it can feel like we will need a jeweler’s loupe to find some of this promised festivity. There are essays about what a bummer this holiday season promises to be. There are articles about what a dark winter is ahead. There are dire warnings about overwhelmed health systems. Listen, I am in charge of absolutely nothing — not even my own children listen to me — but I hereby give us permission to read none of these articles. Real life can be enough of a drag; we have absolutely no moral imperative to absorb additional gloom.


what you'll needdock the pastry with a forkweight the pastry while baking itbake puffed pastrycook, stirringcook until thickened

Instead, I’ve been keeping a log of things I consider mood elevators. We went to a museum last weekend for the first time since last winter, and then an aquarium. We walked on Brighton Beach the weekend before, and got some dumplings to go. I splurged on some votives I’ve always loved and gifted others, and filled each with a candle, because the sun sets at approximately 2:30pm right now. We have vases and jars filled with knots of these wiry lights. We are “making” Hanukah candles, like we do every year. We are baking through jars of molasses, cinnamon, and ginger. We are making carafes of Irish cream, and finding ways to distribute them to friends. I’m trying to bury myself in books, but I loved the last one I read so much, I might just read it again (permission granted for this too). We’re going to cut snowflakes. We are going to ignore my husband’s protests and watch some terrible-wonderful holiday movies.

pour the custard overtrimming the second layerready to chillready to slice

What I mean is that I think that we should not wait for festivity to descend on us, but build it from the kitchen out and bake these delicious squares. They’re from Kimber’s — the inaugural winner of The Great British Bake Off — newest cookbook, which celebrates “One Tin Bakes: Sweet and simple traybakes, pies, bars and buns” — simple, creative, perfectly-executed desserts that require only one baking pan, a 9×13 [not that I listened]. The custard slice is a favorite of his twin brother’s from childhood — “a thick layer of bright yellow custard sandwiched between two layers of puff pastry.” He forgoes the icing that’s usually on top because he feels that it adds only sweetness, no flavor, and I did too. I didn’t know when I bumped this to December that it would be so timely after being a focus of a recent Great British Bake-Off Episode — they’re that British. However, since this isn’t GBBO, we get to buy, not make, our pastry and we have more than two hours to finish it. I like to let it set overnight in the fridge for a clean slice in the next day.

vanilla custard slices

Elsewhere

* There’s an interview with me in the New Yorker this week.
* Over at The Kitchn, along with 15 other bakers, I contributed a Cookie of 2020 that both ships well and is a decadent finale to this very long year.
* As a fundraiser for In Good Taste NYC, I created a “NYC Starter Pack” highlighting some of my favorite local small business. Through 12/5, you can donate for a chance to win it, or some of the other starter packs featured from way cooler people.

Previously

6 months ago: Smashed Potatoes with Sweet Corn Relish
1 year ago: Challah Stuffing
2 years ago: Cabbage and Mushroom Lasagna
3 years ago: Endive Salad with Toasted Breadcrumbs and Walnuts
4 years ago: Brussels Sprouts, Apple, and Pomegranate Salad
5 years ago: Pecan Pie and Roasted Leek and White Bean Galettes
6 years ago: Classic Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Praline Sauce
7 years ago: Apple-Herb Stuffing for All Seasons
8 years ago: Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
9 years ago: Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Biscuits
10 years ago: Creamed Onions with Bacon and Chives and Sweet Corn Spoonbread
11 years ago: Creamed Spinach
12 years ago: Meyer Lemon and Fresh Cranberry Scones and Winter Fruit Salad
13 years ago: Pumpkin Waffles and Nutmeg-Maple Cream Pie
14 years ago: Classic Grilled Cheese + Cream of Tomato Soup

Vanilla Custard Slices

  • 2 8.5-ounce sheets ready-rolled puffed pastry, defrosted [from a 1.1-pound (490-gram) package]
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (50 grams) cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (475 ml) whole milk
  • 3/4 cup (175 ml) heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons (45 grams) unsalted butter, diced

Prepare the pastry: Heat oven to 375°F. On a lightly floured counter, roll each sheet of puffed pastry to roughly a 9-inch square. Place each on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Dock all over with a fork. Place another piece of parchment paper on top, then another 1 or 2 baking sheets on top of the parchment paper to weight it down. Bake in oven for 18 to 20 minutes, then remove the baking sheet weights and top sheet of paper and bake for another 5 to 10, or until golden brown. If pastry isn’t lightly browned, it will not stay flaky and crisp against the custard and Paul Hollywood will send you home. Set pastry aside to cool completely.

Line the base and sides of an 8×8-inch cake pan with a large sheet of foil so the excess goes up the sides. I find it can help to first mold the foil over the outside of the baking pan and then transfer it inside, for fewer tears.

Place first cooled square of pastry on a cutting board and use bottom of cake pan to cut it into a square that will fit tightly inside the pan. Repeat with second square. Place first square inside the pan; save second until needed.

Make the custard: In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, starch, and salt. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until smooth and no pockets of sugar-starch remain before adding the second. Whisk in vanilla bean paste, and then, very gradually, whisking the whole time, pour in milk, then cream. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking the whole time. As the custard begins to bubble, it will thicken. Remove from heat and stir in the butter until it is fully melted. If you want it extra silky-smooth, pour the custard through a fine-mesh sieve before continuing but I never do.

Assemble the squares: Immediately pour the warm custard into the baking pan over the first sheet of puff pastry and spread evenly. Place the second sheet of pastry on top, pressing gently to secure in place.

Chill the squares: Wrap the pan in plastic and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight to allow the custard to fully set. Once chilled and set, use the foil to carefully lift the mixture from the tin. Dust with powdered sugar — I used some strips of paper leftover from a kid quilling project to create a decoration — then use a sharp, serrated knife to cut it into slices.

Do ahead: Stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator, these will keep for a couple of days. They will keep for up to 5 days, but the pastry will soften a bit.

Note: You can watch an Instagram Story demo of this recipe here. More notes: I took many liberties with this recipe. I re-scaled the recipe for the package size of the brand of frozen puffed pastry most of us have access to in the US, Pepperidge Farm, because I didn’t want us to have to buy two boxes. To do so, I reduced the recipe by about 1/3 to fit in an 8×8-inch pan, rounding off the parts that didn’t scale evenly. I found that rather than cutting the pastry down to size and then baking it — it was hard to predict how much it would shrink — I baked the pastry larger than needed and cut it when it came out of the oven. I have my own shortcut method of making custards/pastry creams and applied it here — no separately warmed milk/cream, so everything is made in one pot.

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249 comments on vanilla custard slices

      1. Bekah

        Deb…first of all, I love what avid readers many of your commenters are. Take note of all of the books being recommended! Secondly, how do I know when I’ve thickened the custard enough? You say it’ll thicken as it bubbles…but how long do you expect to be bubbling? Thank you!!

        1. deb

          Once it’s bubbled for a minute, it’s thickened. You can check the temperature, too. Custard usually thickens between 170 and 180°F. Some advocate going hotter, though, for a stiffer set.

          1. Talia

            I might actually try making this, to my family’s delight. Question first — it says to mix the sugar etc in the saucepan and then whisk in the eggs, etc. But is this off heat? At what point does one turn the burner on?

              1. Elisabeth in Vienna

                A classic I recently stumbled over and read in a day was Germinal by Emile Zola – about the lives of coalminers in 1860s France and the rise of Socialism. I even ended up doing research about mining (how do the workers get down the mine? How would you provide fresh air? etc).

                Two other books I enjoyed recently: The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue (about a nurse in a Dublin maternity ward during the Spanish Flu) and The Last Day by Andrew Hunter Murray (the Earth has stopped turning – endlessly thought provoking)

            1. Corinne E Kaz

              I made them and we ate a couple that night but kept them in the fridge and had them over the next few days. The pastry gets a bit soft, but overall they held up way better than I thought they would! Personally I feel like serving the next day would be fine.

        2. Francoise Mosteiro

          I would caution against cooking it too long when thickening with cornstarch. Cooked too long the cornstarch loses it’s thickening power and your left with a (still delicious) sauce (However that’s never happened to me ;) ahem…)

      2. Katia B

        Great recipe! I used it to make the Russian style Napoleon cake. Love how simple it is! Never thought the store bought puff pastry could work here. And the one pan creme turned out amazing, and no chilling needed before the assembly which is a huge deal when you try to put the cake together before the baby wakes up from a nap! Thank you.

      1. Katy W

        It is Lincoln in the Bardo, which is one of the finest books I’ve ever read. I have to give a shout out for Deacon King Kong, as well. Amazing.

  1. christine alison wilson

    These were such a favourite when I was a little girl in England. My mum would sometimes make them, but mainly they were a treat at Sayers cake shop. They had a white icing on the top.

  2. Monica

    I just binged all of GBBO in too few sittings and was thrilled to see this when I came to check in here. Doubly thrilled to see you’ve been doing the same. Thanks for a lowkey way to scratch the pastry week itch.

  3. sallyt

    I’m SO making this. I own his book, and this recipe caught my eye, but your shortcuts are VERY appealing to me. If this is your favorite flavor profile – it’s mine -I highly, highly recommend Shauna Sever’s brown speckled cream pie from her book Midwest Made. I made it for our tiny Thanksgiving use Claire Saffitz’s pie crust from her book Dessert Person.

    Thank you!

    1. sallyt

      PS – when you’re ready to read a new book, here are my top 5 for this year – I have read a LOT since 3/2020!

      In no particular order: 1) Writers and Lovers by Lily King, 2) Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi, 3) Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld, 4) Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, and 5) Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

      1. Susan Robinson

        SallyT—how fortuitous—literally last night I was trying to remember the name and author of the book I had read a few months ago about a young woman writer and her romantic entanglements! Thanks for helping resolve that senior moment!

        1. Cynthia

          This is called a Vanilla Slice in Australia, and traditionally has passionfruit icing on top. Most bakery’s sell it all year round.

      2. deb

        I read Vanishing Half as well, and then her first book, The Mothers, which I liked even more. I just added #2 from your list to my cart. I’m struggling to get into books since Bardo (which I finished a little after Halloween). I want to read more classics and great novels I’ve missed. Any favorites?

        1. sallyt

          I have to read The Mothers! If you haven’t read Writers & Lovers, please do. It’s so gorgeously written –

          Hmmm – great novels – have you read Kate Atkinson? I’m obsessed with Life after Life and Scenes at the Museum. Other amazing novels from the past several years are the Great Believers, Girl, Woman, Other, and anything by Jhumpa Lahiri, especially Interpreter of Maladies. If you missed Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood, I highly, highly recommend it – especially as a parent. I read it as a teenager, but it really hit home now in my 40s. ANYTHING by Elizabeth Strout, who just astounds me with her graceful prose. If you haven’t read Ruth Reichl’s memoirs, they’re wonderful, particularly the first two (start with Tender at the Bone).

          If you want any kid books recommendations, let me know – my almost 9 yo and 14 yo are avid readers and I’m also reading a lot of YA fiction (favorites are The hate you give by Angie Thomas and Far from the tree by Robin Benway).

        2. Jennie

          If you haven’t read Laurie Colwin’s novels I can’t recommend those highly enough. And of course her classics Home Cooking and More Home Cooking.

        3. Ami

          The Secret History!!!!!

          Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

          2020 books that I adored: Piranesi (Susanna Clarke), Luster (Raven Leilani), Beach Read (Emily Henry), Jasmine Guillory (all novels!)

        4. Sheila

          Loving the book recommendations! Just in time for a week off of work to be paired with some SK yummy treats.
          A few fantastic reads:
          (1) Anything by Ann Patchett (especially State of Wonder, Dutch House, Bel Canto)
          (2) A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
          (3) A Tale for the Time-Being by Ruth Ozeki (also recommend My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki – so much laughter and so many tears.)
          (4)Evvie Drake Starts over by Linda Holmes (a romcom book – delightfully fun and beautifully written)
          (5) Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (warning – about the onset and aftermath of a viral pandemic so maybe not for everyone but perhaps exactly the right thing for others. I read well before the pandemic and some of the scenes stuck with me for years).

      3. Emma O

        My book recs: if you haven’t already… EVERYTHING by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (I LOVE HER SO MUCH). Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. Also Mr. Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo. Yaa Gyasi is next on my list Sally T… I have had Homegoing on my to-read pile for too long (damn you small children!). Also on my to-read pile The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante. But far and way the best book I have read in – literally – years is A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ni Ghriofa. It is transcendent. Noting everybody else’s recs here too. I’m in an online group that tries to work our way through the popsugar reading challenge each year… I never do, because see small children above, but it’s brilliant for making you seek out stuff you wouldn’t have read otherwise.

  4. Megan

    In New Zealand these are called “custard squares” and can be found at almost every café! Lots of variations too – adding lemon zest to the custard… cocoa ones too… or nutmeg for an “eggnog” riff – so many possibilities. When I was a child, my mother used to do a VERY cut-down version with Huntley and Palmers cream crackers instead of pastry and custard-powder instead of “from scratch” custard. But, no matter how you make them – the best part is pulling the top layer of pastry off, and eating that with fingers, then consuming the rest very daintily with a fork – but still making a huge mess – YUM!

    1. Brittany

      Yes! I ate them growing up in New Zealand too but in my six years living in the U.K. have never actually seen them in a shop?

      Definitely going to give these a go, Deb! Then feed them to all my kiwi friends.

      1. Katy

        Never seen them in the UK?! They’re in pretty much every supermarket in the chilled desserts/cream cakes section – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrison’s, M&S (for more expensive ones), usually around £1.20 for 2

    2. maggie

      in australia they’re called a vanilla slice and are mainly sold at bakeries who often claim they have the best in australia!

      also, sorry in advanced for this (please turn away if you’re a little squeamish) but they’ve occasionally (and affectionately) been referred to as ‘snot blocks’….a name i’m guessing referring to the texture……

      1. Mich

        Came here to say the same thing Maggie, but the snot blocks should also generally have an icing on the top…white or pink. Any bakery worth its salt sells them and they remain my all-time favourite!

    1. Therese

      It is very much like the Hungarian pastry called Kremes (pronounced kray-mesh). I’ve made it several times from a Hungarian recipe for my father’s birthday because it’s his favorite. I’m going to try this recipe to see how it compares.

      1. Julie

        I am both British and Hungarian. I’ve made these numerous times but have always called them Kremes. To be honest, I use Dr. Oetker’s Hazi Kremes packages that I purchase at an European Store. No bake 😳 just add milk. I am going to try this recipe for comparison. Planning on making it for my British mother and Hungarian father for Christmas!

    2. Elizabeth

      So funny to see this here! This (kremsniti) was dessert for our Croatian style Thanksgiving this year. It’s kremsnita in Slovenia… super similar name in the Czech Republic and Serbia… add the icing (and maybe split the puff into a couple more layers?) and it becomes millefeuille in France (where I think it started). Our main course (cevapcici) is the same, now that I think of it — cufte in Bosnia, kofte, kibbe, kefteh, kifta kebab… anywhere from India to Greece). It’s kind of a hassle to cut through the top layer of puff pastry so it might be easier to 1) score it before baking or 2) crumble the top layer and just top the custard right before serving with the flakes then powdered sugar.

  5. teegan

    Deb, I am not a person who leaves impractical, gushy comments anywhere. For real. I am neither gushy nor overly complimentary in person. And I have read plenty of articles in my life and particularly lately about giving myself permission to “do my thing” despite others’ doom and gloom. But it feels somehow far more genuine coming from you than from anyone else. So, thanks. Thanks for providing so many of the comforting recipes I turn to again and again. For being a constant voice of real mother/woman/person-hood here on the internet without being overly dramatic. Much appreciation from a (VERY DARK at five o’clock) Vermont hillside.

    1. Debby

      Teegan said it all and perfectly. Even here in Central California, it gets dark by 5 or so, and cooking and baking keep me going. Next up (next week) latkes for the family. Wishing you all the best Deb. Thanks for all you are doing for our communal sanity.

    2. Carolyn

      Fourthed, from someone who was having a rough morning, and after I made your skillet ravioli for dinner you could almost consider the day rescued :). All the best to you and yours.

  6. Sarah

    DEB: if you loved Lincoln in the Bardo (as it is well and right that you did), I MUST RECOMMEND the audiobook version. It is just wildly gorgeous — and has a cast of 160 or so narrators, the main two of whom are David Sedaris and Nick Offerman. I mean, I just, I cannot put into words what an amazing experience it is to listen to it.

    1. Susan Robinson

      Thanks for that recommendation—just downloaded it. I loved the book. A tidbit especially of interest to me, since I’m a musician who performs mostly in an opera bit (or DID—before, you know…)—The Metropolitan Opera has commissioned Missy Mazzoli (an up and comer AND a woman!) to adapt it to an opera, which I think is a brilliant idea.

        1. Nicole

          This has made me smile today! I tell people to listen to the audio because it’s like a performance. To know it could be adapted with music and as opera – splendiferous!!

      1. K W

        The thought of ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’ in operatic form is literally what will carry me through the rest of 2020. Thanks so much for that news!

  7. Sara

    I have this book and this is now moving higher on the list of recipes to try!
    All have been excellent so far, and I’ve had fine luck making half batches in 8x8s when it’s just for us, though the full size is great for sharing, Btw, it’s actually his third book. I have one other “Patisserie Made Simple” and I like them both for having components you can use in lots of other ways.

  8. Hi Deb, just to let you know, Edd Kimber has done three previous books to One Tin Bakes. They are The Boy That Bakes, Say It With Cake, and Patisserie Made Simple. They are worth getting as they have some fantastic recipes, especially the Nanaimo Bars in The Boy That Bakes.

  9. Lisa

    Will the custard stay firm after refrigerating it when served? How long can it hold at room temperature? Aka if taking to a friend 30 minutes away. These look so good!

    1. deb

      The custard is pretty much as shown — will squeeze out when you bite into the square, but you can slice it clean if you’re careful. It should be fine for 30. It doesn’t go liquid or anything, just softens more.

  10. Annette

    Just wanted to say that I really liked your New Yorker interview, and that I completely agree with you: “Who wants to be bossed around when you’re making dinner?” Not me, either!

  11. Beth

    Lincoln in the Bardo is one of my very favorite books! Treat yourself and listen to the audiobook (something I never do – I am a hold-the-book-in-your-hands kinda gal). The cast list alone…..

  12. Katie

    Ohhh, I like the puff pastry shortcut!
    I make a similar dessert with choux pastry (in Polish, it’s called “Karpatka” because the crests of the pastry dusted with powdered sugar allegedly mimic the snow-covered Carpathian mountains). To summer-ize (heh) it, I layer in lemon curd and top with blueberries and powdered sugar. I’ll have to try this out as a quick alternative!

    1. Audrey

      Do you think it could work to put a thin layer of dark chocolate on the bottom layer of the puff pastry before the custard – or would that mess with the texture of the pastry? Or overwhelm the vanilla custard?

      1. deb

        I think it would be fine and delicious. However, I’d then not pour the custard on warm. Let it cool, then add it, then let the bars set overnight or for several hours.

  13. Margy

    This looks like an excellent place to use some of the custard powder that I accidentally triple(!) ordered for Nanaimo bars! Love custard pastries!

  14. Rosanne

    My husband is Serbian and they do the same pastry but call it Krempita. Over the past few years, I have given up making the custard from scratch because it would never set enough to really serve without needing to scoop it out of the pan. Last year, on a whim, I used vanilla jello instant pudding because I had it in the pantry and then folded in whipped cream. I was blown away when the reviews from the family were that I had nailed the “true” krempita! I will have to try it from scratch using this recipe. The 8×8 pan generously serves 10-12 in my experience.

    1. Gwyn

      I was just about to comment that these look like Kremšnita, which are popular in Croatia. I’ve heard them referred to as krempita too. I thought it was Austrian-Hungarian influence and was surprised to hear they might be British? In any case, I love them.

    2. Mary Beth

      How much jello pudding with how much whipped cream? Loved krempita in Greek restaurants as a kid and would love to reproduce it with your recipe .

  15. Jeri

    I’ve had gluten free puff pastry in my freezer for a few months–hard to find and expensive. Nothing has seemed quite special enough to bring it out. But, I think this will be the recipe! Wish me well. Even if it isn’t pretty, it will be delicious!

  16. Jack

    1: These look delicious and I must make them
    and
    2: OH MY GOSH Lincoln in the Bardo was an amazing book.

    I don’t feel very festive but this year more than ever I find meaning and solace in the hopefulness of Hanukah. Maybe the real miracle was not that the oil lasted eight days — it was that after everything, the Maccabees chose to look for it at all, rather than say “Why bother? The Greeks destroyed or desecrated it anyway.” I hope it doesn’t sound corny, but I want to choose the possibility of light over resigning myself to darkness.

    1. jessica

      that is in fact, the real miracle of chanukah, or part of it: the victory of the few over the many, the maccabee revolt and victory is the point of the holiday. they looked for the oil because they chose and fought for their religion and they won. and that’s why the oil lasts for eight days.

      anyway, chag sameach, and yes, always always always look for the light in the darkness. i mean, we are the light unto the nations, so ❤️✡️🕎🔯❤️

      1. Dana

        Thirded! Hahaha. Gross name, great taste. I’ve never seen them sold as snot blocks, they’re always called vanilla slice or similar, but everyone calls them snot blocks

  17. JV

    Oh my goodness, thank you for this! This site is one of my little happy places on the internet, and it always makes me feel better after reading about the doom and gloom. If we can bake our way through your recipes, we’ll make it through the winter :)

    This looks delicious, but I’m always so nervous about custardy desserts with eggs–how can I be sure they are safely cooked? (Had the same fear when I made your pumpkin cheesecake gingersnap tart for Thanksgiving, though it turned out great and was thoroughly enjoyed by our household!)

  18. Elisabeth

    I’m wondering how sweet the custard is (and if it is very sweet if it is possible to reduce the amount of sugar). I too often find custard that is cloyingly sweet which I don’t like…

  19. Laura

    Lincoln in the Bardo is such a strange and fascinating book. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like it, and I was both appalled and reverted the whole time. I might need to read it. Thanks for reminding me of this unique gem!

  20. Tammy

    These look wonderful!
    Also, I have wanted to re-read Lincoln in the Bardo since I read it last year. So much to unpack and digest in it; a truly amazing book.
    But first, I will want to make & digest some of these tasty yummies!

  21. Gina Ayoob

    This looks like an absolutely delicious Polish Mountain Cake that my husband and I stumbled upon in a bakery in Brooklyn. I think the Doug was mire like pate choux, but this would be a great substitute! Thanks Deb! I love your recipes!!!

  22. Rosalie

    Yes to Lincoln in the Bardo! Wasn’t it the most amazing book? I also wanted to read it again immediately. I read it two years ago, and I still think of it all the time.

  23. Jo R

    Just got to add – it wouldn’t be a true vanilla slice without passionfruit icing made from real passionfruit…..NEXT LEVEL, trust me.

  24. Lisa Leatham

    Whatcha doin to me? I came for the blondies recipe and I found this! It’s 12pm central. I will stay track but lady this makes it hard midnight bake.

  25. “I am in charge of absolutely nothing — not even my own children listen to me — but I hereby give us permission to read none of these articles”

    I burst out laughing and thought, “I love you, Deb.” Especially because permission now gladly accepted and nothing but the eating of custard slices is in my future!

    :D

  26. Karen

    Looks delicious. How would you slice it up with clean edges and without squishing out the filling? Even with a serrated knife, the cut edges are not as nice as the ones in the bakeries. Can it be frozen whole first, then cut it like an ice cream cake with a hot knife? Any tips is very much appreciated. Thanks!

  27. Marcia

    Would you be offended if I just made the custard?Apparently my grocery delivery folks don’t have puff pastry this week, and when I am in England I want custard with everything. I don’t know why Americans don’t do much custard.

    When I read “LIncoln in The Bardo” it reminded me very much of a much older book, “Spoon River Anthology “ by Edgar Lee Masters” .It is a book of poems by each of the residents of a Massachusetts Cemetery.” You would, I think,like it.

    1. joy

      YES!!!! Oh, I love both Lincoln in the Bardo and Spoon River Anthology and I can’t think why the resemblance didn’t occur to me sooner. But the fictional town of Spoon River wasn’t in Massachusetts, it was in Illinois.

      1. Maureen

        There is a real Spoon River rest stop along the interstate in Illinois. I understood the name Spoon River to have come from Native Americans utilizing shells from the river to make eating utensils.

  28. ErinAlison

    I made it! Coincidentally, although I’ve never used puff pastry before I had it on today’s grocery order, even before you posted the recipe. I thought it would be nice to have on hand just in case something like this came up. Alas, the store was all out, and then this recipe appeared and… I had to make my own puff pastry from scratch. Laminating dough is more than I had time for today, so I found an easy recipe that was very similar to your Extra-Flaky Pie Crust; the only difference is more butter and you leave it in much larger pieces. Then roll it out and fold it 4-6 times, and chill before baking. So not really puff pastry, but it’s awfully good! I can’t wait to dig in tomorrow. I’m thinking about adding chocolate frosting on top to please my chocolate loving son, but I can’t decide on a glaze; any recommendations?

  29. Serena

    I’ve been wanting to make custard slices for a loooong time now and I’m so glad you came up with this recipe! It was my brother’s favourite cake when he was small and we used to go to a bakery in Pretoria (South Africa), to get them as a treat every now and then. I’m going to make them for him as a Christmas present.
    Thanks for the book suggestion too! Big thanks!

  30. Jen

    I can’t tell you how happy I was when I saw you used puff pastry for this! This will be so fun to make with my daughters this holiday as their father’s favorite dessert is napoleons – it will be a sweet surprise for him. I hope you and your family have a great holiday season!

    1. deb

      Because salt in salted butter is inconsistent — some sticks might have 1/4 teaspoon, others might have 1/2 — so to really control saltiness in baked goods, it’s better to start with unsalted. That said, if you only have salted butter, I presume 1/4 teaspoon fine salt per stick most of the time, and adjust from there.

  31. Nicola

    Will definitely give this a go, they are my husband’s favourite. Would it be at all possible to have recipes in grams as we really don’t use cups in the UK and I think UK cups are different US ones 😔

  32. Christine DiTrinco

    Looks so delicious, hope to try it soon! I do wonder, even after it’s set, slicing it doesn’t force the custard out all four sides? Though more work, could you cut squares out of both sheets, layer accordingly, and refrigerate, so it is essentially pre-cut?

  33. Mary

    Deb, on top of loving every word and recipe you write, I just have to chime in to say that although I was thrilled to see the New Yorker piece about you, that image/illustration/caricature didn’t look ONE BIT like you. You are perfectly lovely and youthful and REAL, and that drawing was unrecognizably frumpy and middle-aged. Thanks for all you do to keep us all going, especially in such bizarre times.

    1. Cara

      Agreed! You had to squint to see a resemblance. And if it’s gonna be a squinter why can’t they go in the direction of extra gorgeous?!!

  34. Tara Graham

    I recently read Lincoln in the Bardo and found it fascinating. The approach was so unique! It certainly gave me a lot to think about especially with respect to President Lincoln and the impact of the souls on his thinking and actions for the remainder of the war. It is a book I want more people to read so I can talk with them about it!

    PS – My 11-year-old and I are a huge GBBO fans and competed against each other last weekend making croissants. She won…

  35. deb

    I am enjoying reading all of the other names these squares are called around the world. Here’s the list I’ve made. Any corrections or additions?

    Kremšnita, Croatia
    Krempita in Serbia, Bosnia
    Karpatka, Kremowka in Poland
    Kremes, Hungary
    Vanilla Slice, UK
    “Snot Blocks” or Vanilla Slice, Australia
    Custard Square, New Zealand
    Tompouce, Holland
    Galaktoboureko, Greece
    Cremeschnitte in Transylvania, Germany, Austria
    Mille foglie, Italy
    Napoleonbakelse, Sweden and Finland

    1. Elizabeth

      The French gateau des rois (kings’ cake) served for 12th Night is similar, with custard between two layers of puff pastry. It needs to be round, though, to symbolize either crowns or a roundabout journey, and to have a bean or little ceramic king tucked in the custard to select the ‘Lord of Misrule’. I have a special dish with a crown and leaves, etc., which imprints the lower crust, so it’s served with that side up.

    2. Karen

      These are definitely called ‘snot blocks’ in New Zealand. However, there is a light, creamy version developed in a bakery in Timaru that defies that nomenclature – you never forget it once you’ve had one …. currently regretting that I live in Australia ….

    3. Sugar

      I think that Galaktompoureko is made with phyllo pastry, not puff. This recipe is closer to another Greek favourite, Bougatsa (an esteemed specialty of the town of Thessaloniki).

  36. Phyllis

    Do you think that Edd Kimber’s book would be a good first baking book for a 12 yr old? My granddaughter would baking items for Christmas and I don’t want to get her a baking-for-children book. Thank you, I so enjoy your work.

  37. jen

    Alright, the inevitable single person [but self-described pudding person] question: freezability? I would loooove to make these, but know I wouldn’t eat fast enough to finish a tray by myself :)

    thank you!!

    1. jen

      just kidding – did my research and alas, no dice what with the compromised texture. alas! now time to brainstorm how to make this mini… !

      1. Victoria Merritt

        Thanks for investigating! I made these anyways (my husband can eat infinitely without consequence, it’s infuriating) but was really hoping to freeze (i.e. hide) some for later.

  38. Leanne

    ” I hereby give us permission to read none of these articles. Real life can be enough of a drag; we have absolutely no moral imperative to absorb additional gloom.”

    I love you, Deb. Amen to making our own festivity and not waiting for it. Your holiday fun list sounds a lot like ours over here. The happiest of holidays to you and your sweet family, and THANK YOU for all the deliciousness over the years.

  39. Ksenija

    Thank you for your amazing recipes and for sharing your very human ( not glossed over) emotions and exasperations in our nutbar world these days … very refreshing

  40. Leanne S

    Omg! Vanilla slice! I am sooo making this. I have all the ingredients except I have 2% milk not whole milk. Can I get away with that? I also have (probably expired) custard powder….

    My hubby (I’m Aussie, he’s American) prefers the passion fruit icing which definitely gives it some zing. I like the sweet upon sweet…

  41. Carol Suzuki

    This is the post I didn’t know I needed and my favorite from you so far. Thanks so much for the lift and for reminding me how transformative baking can be, even in the simplest recipes. This is short, but I need to get off my computer and CELEBRATE! And bake these vanilla custard slices.

  42. Liz

    I want to make them with nutmeg for an eggnog version. Looks delicious. The downsides to 2020 are obvious, but we all need a little perspective. We have indoor plumbing with hot and cold running water, electric lights, heat, refrigerators, stoves, food to eat…. Seriously, this is not so bad and we can be festive. Time to reread A Christmas Carol and be grateful for all we do have. Can you imagine doing this without telephones like back in the 1918/19 pandemic? No Netflix, no computers?

  43. Jaclyn

    Deb! Lincoln in the Bardo is the most unbelievable audio book. It is a whole new way of experiencing it. Great to listen to while cooking!

    Also, I wrote you an email with the subject “rugelach odyssey” back in the spring. The timing was poor because it was *just* before the NYT piece when your inbox (rightfully) exploded. I want you know know I made your rugelach again for the intimate reception of my brother’s zoom wedding and the bride and groom loved them. I did a plum sesame almond filling, a graham cracker s’morugelach, and a raspberry chocolate. Best wishes to you and your family this season!

  44. Stef

    These look lovely! I have been thinking of purchasing vanilla bean paste for occasions such as this, where the little flecks would be so welcome and delicious looking. I am encountering a range of ingredient lists in my search and I am curious if you have a preferred brand or brands? Thanks!

    1. Katie

      Trader Joe’s sells a great vanilla bean paste this time of year! It’s significantly cheaper than anywhere else I’ve found it, too.

  45. Lincoln in the Bardo – I did that book on Audio!! Wasn’t that great?? I hope you’ve gotten into Fredrik Backman’s books; Man Called Ove. Read it, watch it. The movie will not disappoint after reading the book. Busy. That’s what I’ve been doing. Staying busy. Twenty five pound bags of flour disappear as loaf after loaf of hot, crusty aromatic sourdough breads are birthed from the very hot oven. I’ve watched your from your inception; you’ve come a long way! Congratulations on the New Yorker interview – that’s big time!! Years ago, I invited you to come and stay out here in lovely Jackson Hole Wyoming. Invite is still on!! Stay well, stay busy, keep cooking!!

    1. Symona

      Commenting from across the Park near Cody, neighbor. I just read Backman’s Britt-Marie Was Here. Loved it even more than Ove. Hilarious and poignant.

  46. Rebecca Cranston

    Delicious! This reminds me of a local speciality dessert in Bled, Slovenia. Didn’t have puffed pastry so I made it in the food processor for the first time which was very easy. The filling set up great. The flavors are amazing. Thank you!

  47. Joyce+Martin

    Dear Deb this may not be the perfect spot for this comment I couldn’t find a perfect spot. I wanted to say first I love your opening comments for this recipe. They’re just you at your most gracious. Also I wanted to tell you that you looked perfectly beautiful in the bookstore thing. I was so happy to see you and your friends together. Life is good and we mustn’t forget that for a moment. Thank you for being part of my good life, Joyce

  48. Claire May

    Love your work! These are my all time favourite food!
    In New Zealand where I am from, they are called Custard Squares and in Australia where I live, they are called Vanilla Slices. The name Vanilla Custard Slice is a wonderful compromise.

  49. Anna

    In Poland we call them “kremówki” (plural) and usually there’s also quite a thick layer of whipped double cream that goes on top of the custard layer. I absolutely adore them so I’ll for sure try your recipe to compare (it seems your custard is a bit less runny than ours,which will make slicing a lot easier!)

  50. Lisa

    OMG These are our absolute favorites from the year we spent living in Melbourne. I’m afraid to try to make them since food memories are sometimes impossible to recreate. I’ll build up my courage and do it anyway. Thanks for the opportunity.

  51. Dee

    Will definitely make as I too was intrigued by the Bake Off mention of custard slices. But I too loved Lincoln in the Bardo. Maybe not a book for everyone, but amazing and brilliant. Did it for my book group about a a year and a half ago.

  52. LENI

    In Croatia they are called Kremsnite and they are surprisingly light and mild desert. They are served all over the country with slight variations.

  53. Kate

    These are a staple in Australia and we either call them vanilla slice or a snot block 😅 Our standard has bright pink, strawberry flavoured icing on top. Can’t wait to give these a go!

  54. Hayley

    Eek! My puff pastry puffed like crazy as it baked and now I have a giant bubble in the middle of one of the sheets. I think I didn’t prick the dough enough before baking. Can I still use it here?

  55. joy

    The New Yorker interview is wonderful. I’m so glad that Hannah Goldfield interviewed you, and I’m so glad that your conversation included your righteous op-ed for the NYT and the issue of childcare and the economic fallout of the pandemic.

    1. Mary K. Sizemore

      Read “Lincoln in the Bardo” after hearing this excerpt on “Live from Here,” the Chris Thiele show now sadly cancelled. Here’s a link to the clip which featured the author: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2yA4TI1kS4. Also found a great interactive map on the website for Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington, DC and spent some tome learning about all the famous people buried there. Thanks for all you do to make cooking fun and keep our spirits up.

  56. lisette Ditters

    Yum! So happy to see these, grew up with these in the Netherlands! Only difference is that they have pink or orange (on Kings day..) icing! Even better than powdered sugar…. glad to have a US recipe that I can use, so hard sometimes to use European recipes with US ingredients and sizes. Btw I do think Dufour puff pastry is so much tastier than the PF version??

  57. Lynn Anderson

    I misread and thought you meant YOU, not traybakes, were the focus of a recent GBBO episode. All Smitten Kitchen episode would be a fun one to watch :)

  58. Mel G

    Oh I LOOOOVE vanilla slice! It’s a bakery staple here in Oz too. Usually festooned with a pink glaze or buttercream, but sometimes the rare unicorn of a vanilla slice slathered in passionfruit icing can be found and it makes all the difference. Try it next time, you won’t regret it!

  59. Colleen

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for linking to an independent bookseller for what you have been reading! It is so important that we shop local if we want all of those wonderful local places to still be there when we are all allowed to go out and shop again.
    And, of course, thank you for all of the wonderful recipes, photos, and stories.

  60. sam

    Really good! Super easy and GBBO quality. The custard was delicious and sturdy. Next time I might try decreasing the corn starch a tiny bit to make it less “stodgy” but as written it was super easy to cut and no-fuss. I didn’t have a square tin so I used two loaf pans, which actually turned out really easy- each pan turned out 4-5 nice slices (which could have been cut into squares but we didn’t bother).

  61. Joeleen

    Made this over the weekend and it was perfect! Exactly as I remembered having in Melbourne, Australia. I was a little hesitant pouring hot custard over the puff pastry and then covering and refrigerating overnight. Would it remain flaky? Yes!
    Would the custard set? Yes! Magical!

  62. Lindsey

    Delicious. I made these yesterday, let them chill overnight, and I was able to cleanly slice them with a serrated knife today with no problem. I was surprised by how “sturdy” and firm the custard is, when cold. This dessert is so simple and comforting, I loved it.

    1. deb

      You whisk the sugar, eggs, milk, etc. cold and then “Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat…” in the middle of the Make the custard section.

  63. Eva

    The custard recipe is great – love that it uses both yolks and whites, and the cooking is very unfussy compared to standard custard recipes. This would work well for a variety of custard-needing recipes, or as a stand-alone pudding. I thought the puff pastry component was just ok … if I made this again, I would probably sprinkle the puff pastry with sugar (similar to a palmier) before baking to introduce a little bit of flavor to the dough. Also, Trader Joe’s sells all-butter puff pastry during the winter holiday season at about $5/package.

    1. Sandy

      I agree with you about the custard. It’s really magnificent, and I’ll use it going forward in other custard-requiring desserts. My pastry was such a fail. I couldn’t find all-butter puff and the alternative was bland and gross and impossible to cut. I ended up scraping out the custard and eating that on its own

  64. Your comments are sooo apropos to our world today. There is no need to make things worse than they are – we need to just bring and find joy in our homes and family. I LOVE custard…this is definitely something I’m going to try! :)

  65. Eve

    This is cute. I was literally admiring these in a bakery window in Zagreb today and thinking about how nice on would be. They are Croatian or Austrian or Hungarian depending where you are and they are called Kremšnita in Croatia or Kremschnitte in Austria. The best ones supposedly are in Samobor, Croatia….but they are always pretty delicious in Zagreb.

    1. deb

      Yes — that pie is a much softer custard. However, I think there’s potential to use reduced maple syrup as the sweetener here instead of sugar, but I might also hold back a few tablespoons of milk, so there isn’t too much liquid for it to set nicely.

  66. Julia

    These were delicious, even using a box of frozen puff pastry that was a bit, ahem, past its date. Even though I was out of vanilla paste and used just extract, the custard flavor was very vanilla-y. Forgot to dust with powdered sugar. Very easy to cut. The results were so good, especially in relation to time and effort required, that these could be a regular treat. I think some coconut in the custard would be excellent. Oh..and we drizzled some dulce de leche on a few.

  67. Glo

    This was DELICIOUS! I used a scant 1/2c of sugar and skipped the powdered sugar on top, and the pastry had a hard time staying together when I was cutting, but it was still very very good. You know, this actually reminds me of the Chinese egg tarts–dan ta–that you get at dim sum and I bet you could adapt the shapes to make dan ta.

  68. I am in the SAME MOOD over here!!!! All the lights. All the sweets. All the festive stuff we can conjure ourselves at home. All the bubbly Christmas movies. Only enough news to keep us in touch with reality, and none of the dire commentary that goes with it.
    I will make these slices – they look heavenly. Maybe I will festive them up with a bit of colored sugar on top :)

    1. JNH

      Not Deb, but in my experience baking with nondairy milks, not with this sort of recipe–or, at least, not without adapting. Your best bet would probably be to find an almond milk custard recipe online and then using it in place of the dairy custard here.

  69. Rach

    Deb, this looks glorious! I’m from Australia and custard squares are a favourite bakery treat. Just wondering why you no longer have the “from the other side of the world” section in your Previously links? I’ve always loved clicking through those. So many delicious ideas!

  70. Ron Miller

    One trick that I learned that might be useful with this recipe is to use some coconut oil to keep the bottom crust from getting soggy. You can add a thin layer of coconut oil to the bottom layer of puff pastry (after it has been cooked). The coconut oil does not make the bottom layer soggy, and it acts as a barrier preventing the puff pastry from getting wet. I suppose you could also do the same to the underside of the top layer.

    NOTE: This only works with pies where the crust is pre-baked before being filled (and if the filling is cooled as well before adding to the crust). Since coconut oil melts at 78ºF, it is not much use during baking.

  71. Gail Johnson

    I made this tonight. Filling was out of this world, we all loved it. My puff pastry was tough. Thought it was browned enough. It rested for 5-6 hours before serving. Thoughts on what went wrong?
    I really want to get this one right.
    Thanks!

  72. sallyt

    I loved these! Big hit with my book club. I used TJ’s all butter puff pastry, forgot to dock the pastry, and baked the pastry for a little less time b/c it was getting too browned. Delicious!

    1. sallyt

      oh, and I didn’t need to roll out the dough – just cut it into 9″ squares. Deb, wondering what you did with the leftover puff pastry?

  73. Iva

    As a Croatian, I love to see this – we have this, too, called kremsnita. It is a very old fashioned dessert, and my father’s favorite. Happy Holidays!

    1. sallyt

      Cindy – it did for me – I made them in the morning, served them 4 hours later, and the pastry was very crispy, in the best way. The leftovers that had gotten stored in the fridge overnight were soggy the next day (but still tasty)

    2. deb

      Mine did not but it will have a lot to do with the quality of the pastry (all butter is ideal) and how brown you get it while baking the sheets. A good deep golden brown, i.e. more color than you see here, will stay more crisp.

      1. Juka

        Hahaha! it’s 14 oz/ 396.9 gms–more importantly it’s just one sheet, iirc! And while I look forward to your reply, I decided to go with jerelle guy’s creme bruele pie from nytimes. (its in the oven right now!) I am still interested in this recipe though, so pls do reply whenever convenient! thanks!

  74. Gay Gale

    I made these last night and they turned out great, except my husband and I have manage to eat almost the whole pan in one day!
    Deb, what is the secret to making such even slices like in your photo (also brownies, etc)? I used a clean serrated knife but the pastry shattered.

    1. deb

      Barely apply pressure; just let the weight of the knife rest on the pastry and gently saw it back and forth until it goes through the top layer, then press straight down through the bottom.

  75. I just made these; waiting for them to chill. I used Trader Joe’s Puff Pastry–their sheets are square so not too much rolling out. I almost put a little flavored spirit in them but wanted to see what the vanilla taste would be like w/o additional flavoring. I know my ‘hood cooks that swap foods all the time are drooling w anticipation.

  76. These sound grand on paper–and they taste good but the execution & serving of them left a lot to be desired. My Trader Joe Puff Pastry came out LOOKING just like above, but hardened up and was very difficult to cut. The pastry cream appeared to be firm–again like your images (and thank you SO much for the visual cues) but when I went to cut the dish the cream oozed out. Very messy to eat due to hard puff pastry. While I thought I failed in this recipe, my husband said it wasn’t any different than eating ANY kind of Napoleon. Doesn’t make as a keeper BUT that caramel nut tart does.

    1. sallyt

      I used the same puff pastry, but cut the baking short time a wee bit – by about 3 minutes? I had zero problems cutting, and no problems with cream oozing – just sawed through the pastry with a long serrated bread knife. Totally delicious.

  77. Loris Nebbia

    Hi, I was wondering how it works to eat these… does the custard smush out when you try to cut into the pastry?
    Thanks for all the great recipes.

  78. ROSA VELLA

    Hi Deb, this is Rosa and I was wondering was I supposed to strain the custard, because I have mad it yesterday and put it in the fridge overnight but it’s not holding????

  79. Pascale

    What joy and enthusiastic responses a little square of pastry and a wonderful writer/cook can bring! I was reminded of the delicious millefeuille that I’ve had at the old-fashioned, traditional brasserie Chez Denise in Paris – I actually never even liked them until then. Now, of course, it will be a while before we can eat anywhere but home. So, thank you for all of your delicious recipes! Planning on making your Lemon Tart for Xmas – best lemon tart EVER. :)
    Just one little question: Do you think if I added another layer or two of puff pastry in the middle (with your P.H.-proof baking instructions) and a tiny bit of cognac to the custard, this recipe would work to replicate a millefeuille? By the way, the tompouce in Holland usually has either a thick very sweet pink or orange (for King’s Day) glaze and these look much, much yummier.

      1. Pascale

        I dribbled just a tiny bit of armagnac on the pastry, but the next time I think I’ll add it to the custard once it’s made. I had a hard time with my puff pastry because they were little squares that had to be rolled together. Next time I think I ned to make them a bit higher, but otherwise they tasted really good! Thanks again and happy holidays!

  80. Diane

    Made these the other night. I didn’t have to roll the puff pastry because it came out of the box the perfect size. Mine did puff up quite a bit during cooking, despite LOTS of fork holes, but I pressed it down when it came out of the oven and it was fine. Once assembled, I found that three hours of chilling was sufficient (we couldn’t wait to try them!) They were incredibly delicious. My sons are asking when I’m going to make them again.

  81. Dar

    Delicious and easy peasy! I used the Pepperidge farm pastry sheets, and found I didn’t have to roll them out at all. I did have to add a quick powdered sugar-milk glaze to get my suspicious eaters to try it, but I would leave out if I could. It also cut so easily with a serrated knife!

  82. Sarah

    You may hate me for asking, but…. I have some pre made custard in my pantry I’ve been trying to figure out how to use… could I use it in this recipe or is that a big no no?

  83. emily

    These were everything you promised and more. I brought them– all 16 squares– to a party of myself, my wife, and the other couple that makes up our quarantine pod, and even our friend who is almost completely without a sweet tooth ate two of them.

    1. deb

      2% is just fine. I didn’t test it with a non-dairy milk. Mostly, they’re thinner. But I do think it would still thicken. Perhaps use a little less of oat milk?

    1. deb

      Barely apply pressure; just let the weight of a sharp serrated knife rest on the pastry and gently saw it back and forth until it goes through the top layer, then press straight down through the bottom.

  84. Dee

    thanks for help on th 2% milk, Deb. It’s resting in the fridge now. But I have two new questions: If you cover the hot custard pan with plastic, won’t there be steam created under the plastic, making it soggy?

    Also, I used Trader Joe’s puff pastry, and when it was unrolled, it was something like 12X10 inches, give or take. So was I supposed to fold it and then roll to 9X9? That didn’t seem right, so I simply marked off the 9inches and cut the sheet, but worry that it might be too thin. Anyone else run into this?

    1. deb

      Hi Dee — I didn’t test it with Trader Joe’s, but perhaps someone else will pipe up. In general, I find it best to roll as little as possible, which is why I adjusted this recipe to the size Pepperidge comes in (as I know that’s what most people can get). How did it bake up? As for the plastic, no, it won’t make it soggy. The structure comes from the cornstarch and cooked egg and no steam will change that. The plastic just keeps it from forming a “pudding skin.”

  85. Selin

    Have you tried making this with the Dufour puff pastry? It seems like it is slightly less dough/package than the Pepperidge Farm. Thanks!

    1. deb

      I haven’t but it’s my absolute favorite. It is indeed less dough; you’ll probably want two packages or a smaller pan. Let me know if you need tips on scaling up or down (by reminding me how big the package is, heh)/

      1. Selin

        My package is 14 oz. Since it’s only 3 oz. less dough, I’m thinking I’ll just try rolling it slightly more thinly? (Planning to do zakuski+pelmeni for NYE and thought this would be a great end to the evening! Happy New Year and thanks!)

        1. deb

          My general impression is that the more I roll it, the more it shrinks. Do your best to get it to two even pieces and bake it. If it shrinks too much, just fit them into a smaller pan.

      2. Juka

        Hi Deb! I would love some tips on scaling, please! I have the Dufour in my freezer, 1 pack. If I use just this one, then should I divide it into two and then work with it? In a smaller pan as you suggested?

        Conversely, if I get one more Dufour pastry (which I am leaning towards), then would I have to scale up the custard as well?

        Please advise! I am thinking of making it tomorrow, for New Year’s Eve–there will be five adults, and one toddler. And I am thinking of sharing some with two other friends who live nearby, so maybe I should just get one more of the pastry! thx!

  86. Megan

    I made this for Christmas and it was a hit! I didn’t have vanilla bean paste so I used homemade vanilla extract (your recipe!). After tasting, I decided to go with an extra teaspoon of vanilla extract because the vanilla flavor was just a little too subtle for me. I also added some freshly grated nutmeg for an eggnog-y spin. Had some issues getting nice cuts through the pastry, but it worked well enough. The dessert sort of explodes when eaten anyway so nobody was bothered about the presentation anyway. :)

  87. Kate

    I enjoyed making this and my family enjoyed eating it. I used Trader Joe’s puff pastry sheets in a 9 x 13 pan and increased the custard ingredients by 1/4. I have two suggestions. First, the flavor needs to be punched up. Perhaps it needs more vanilla or some additional flavoring (maybe nutmeg?). Second, the top pastry sheet should be baked for a shorter time than the bottom. The bottom needs to be golden and crispy to prevent it from getting soggy with the custard. If the top is baked for the same time, the top flakes all over the place when cut, making a mess even with a sharp knife.

  88. Debra

    Made yesterday. Messy but so delicious. Conquered my fear of custard, thank you! Used less than 1/2 cup sugar, that was plenty. When I make it again (and I will) I may try cooking the custard to a higher temperature, maybe not using all of it to fill, to get a sturdier slice.

    Back to books, two recommendations:
    Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk
    Savage Feast by Boris Fishman

  89. Chelsea

    We devoured these! My only question is why bother cutting down the pastry, when it seems like the PF was 9×9 out of the box, and so could fit as is into a 9″ pan? Sorry if I missed that explanation above. Or maybe I mis-measured the PF.

    1. Becky

      I found you don’t need to roll it out because it’s already 9×9 but you do need to cut it down because the pan called for is 8×8. I think a recipe note or comment says to cut down after baking because you don’t know how much it will puff.

  90. Jerri

    Made the vanilla custard slices today. I followed the recipe and it turned out so good! Yummy! Quick and easy way to make the custard. It was a big hit.

  91. Ellen

    Made these for our first dinner party in over a year (all vaccinated). They were a huge hit. Not difficult at all. Just a little time-consuming. We did put the custard through a sieve and we used the scraps of puff pastry to eat the pudding that was clinging to the sieve as a cooks’ treat. Absolutely delicious.
    It took a little longer than the recipe indicated to get the pastry finished in the oven. We finished the dessert with a shower of confectioner’s sugar and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. Suggest making the day before or in the morning to give it time to set up well. Made 9 squares.

  92. Rosa

    Do you have a recipe for Napoleon?
    My grandmother used to prepare it, but unfortunately we don’t have her recipe and after several trials we have not been able to recreate it. Thank you!

    1. deb

      Are you looking for a French-style one or a Russian one? I do have a Russian-style one I’ve been working on. I hope to have it up on the site this winter. My in-laws, at least, say it’s perfect. :)

  93. Heather

    I know others have mentioned the same, but this reminds me of the Bled Cake…a must-have in Bled, Slovenia. Took our family there in 2014 and ever since my daughter requests it for her birthday. I haven’t had great luck with it (although no complaints from the eaters!). I may try to pass this off next year!

  94. Patryce

    I made these this weekend and feel they they are, absolutely, August food. So much so that I am making them again already.

  95. Michelle

    BEST CUSTARD SQUARES EVER!!! I LOVE THEM SO MUCH THEY ARE DEFINITELY ONE OF MY FAVOURITE FOODS!!! MADE THEM SO MANY TIMES AND THEY HAVE TURNED OUT WONDERFULLY EVERY SINGLE TIME!!!!!!

  96. DT

    Made it. . . Switching terms in the recipe was a bit confusing to me: cake pan, baking pan. Baking the puff pastry would have been easier to just keep poking it with a fork to pop the bubbles.

    ALSO, I used oat milk with cream for the custard and it’s delicious!