Whether as a lunch box staple, an after-school treat, or a favourite for family gatherings, a homemade slice is sure to win you brownie points! Known in some countries as bars or traybakes, a classic slice is quick and easy to throw together and even easier to eat! Convenient to prepare ahead, they are a cook’s best friend for birthdays, entertaining, or just stocking the freezer.
While there are literally thousands of recipes for slices, a few stand out as perpetual classics. Vanilla slice is a perennial favourite in Australia, while in the UK, flapjack has been satisfying hungry school children for generations. From the pâtisseries of France, we get the Mille-feuille, or Napoleon, with layer upon layer of buttery pastry which has been popular for hundreds of years.
Unfortunately, for all their tempting sweetness and make-ahead convenience, these kitchen classics sometimes seem to have a mind of their own! The slice that looked flawless when you pulled it from the oven can easily break when lifting it out of the tray, or crumble into pieces when cut. While we might enjoy surreptitiously nibbling the broken bits, here are a selection of proven hints to help achieve that perfect piece:
- Be sure to line your pan with baking paper and leave enough sticking out each end to use for lifting the slice out of the tray.
- Allow the baked slice to cool completely before slicing, possibly overnight (if it’s not eaten before then)!
- Use a sharp knife to cut the long strips first, then cut each strip into smaller pieces. Dip the blade into very hot water before cutting, and wipe between each cut for a cleaner slice.
- Freeze individual portions in an airtight container with sheets of baking paper between each layer. A single-serve piece put straight from the freezer into a lunchbox or picnic basket will be ideal for munching by lunch hour.
- If you want to freeze the whole batch uncut, wrap the entire slice in a layer of plastic wrap and then in a layer of foil. Place into an airtight container in the freezer – this 3-step process will keep your slices tasting fresh and fabulous once defrosted.
- Slices with a soft filling don’t tend to freeze well, except for cheesecake and caramel slice that can be served directly from frozen; so make these a day or so in advance and store them in the fridge.
- Freezer-friendly slices are at their very best within the first month but can be frozen for up to three months
With these few simple tips, keeping an extra batch of slice in the freezer makes snacking far too easy and means you always have a backup dessert for family and friends. An irresistible combination any way you slice it!