1. Be seduced by the new Women’s Weekly Little Squares and Slices cookbook when out at lunch on Thursday. Accidentally buy it (this could happen to anyone).
2. Spend quite a lot of Thursday afternoon showing said cookbook to a randomly-selected sample of one’s colleagues. Conclusion: This cookbook is dangerous. Also, we are all hungry now.
3. No time for baking after choir on Thursday! Spend all Friday at work distracted by thoughts of slice. Spend Friday lunchtime methodically going through the cookbook working out which slice to bake first. Narrow it down to ten slices which need to be baked immediately.
4. Somewhat less-randomly selected sample of colleagues are all in favour of ten kinds of slice, and suggest others, too.
5. Get home rather late on Friday and immediately go shopping to get ingredients for the first three slices. Because moderation is important! But we do have friends coming for afternoon tea on Saturday, so slice is important too!
6. Decide that the chocolate crackle slice would be even better if vegan.
7. Make vegan chocolate crackle slice. Blog about it!
8. Make caramel slice. Mostly even follow the recipe. Sort of.
9. Make hummingbird slice. Only we don’t like nuts, so use glacé ginger instead. And more spices. And more pineapple…
10. Sample slices with friends. Realise that there is clearly nowhere near enough slice for choir tomorrow.
11. Admit that this has nothing to do with it and that I just want an excuse to make popcorn slice.
12. And gluten- and dairy-free toffee apple slice with praline, of course.
12. Yep, that’s a lot of slice.
13. But really, now that my fellow choristers have had their share, is there really enough slice for Alison?
14. And for my co-workers?
15. Make a double batch of hummingbird slice, because that was gloriously good, and we clearly need more of it.
16. Deliver slice to Alison, who needs slice.
17. Wait! I haven’t made a cheesecake slice yet!
18. Or dinner…
19. Make dinner *and* blueberry-passionfruit cheesecake slice, while on the phone to Germany. Because I can multitask! Stay up until midnight waiting for slice to finish baking. Because I am also insane and yes, I started making cheesecake slice at about a quarter to ten on a Sunday evening!
20. Take three enormous boxes of slice to work on Monday. Email my colleagues to let them know that there is Slice. Watch as a steady procession of people come through my office, invariably remarking “Wow, that really *is* a lot of slice.” Yes. Yes it is. Take a box of slice down to Finance, who are coping with the end of the financial year and fall on the sugar with cries of delight and desperation.
21. Reflect on the fact that I now have two modestly-sized lunchboxes of slice in the fridge, which is a completely sensible amount of slice to have in the house, so I clearly didn’t make an unreasonable amount of slice at all…
Oh, you want a review of the cookbook?
Well, it’s pretty much what it says on the box – slices and little sweet squares and gorgeous things. The five recipes I’ve tried so far all work, as far as I can see. I mean, I didn’t follow them all that precisely, but then I never do. One of the nice things about Women’s Weekly recipes is that they tend to work pretty well regardless.
It’s got a nice mix of recipes – a lot of what I think of as ‘lunchbox slices’ – the kind which have rice bubbles or weetbix as a base, generally held together with condensed milk and full of dried fruit, though they were pretty creative about this – but they certainly don’t stop there. There is a whole chapter of cheesecake and custard slices, a lot of lovely cakey slices, a chapter of fruity slices, and a chapter of chocolate slices, as well as one of coffee and nut slices. And a chapter of slices featuring caramel, which, among other things, includes four different versions of the traditional caramel slice (biscuit base, caramel filling, chocolate topping).
There are a fair few slices that are really quick and simple to make (the cheesecake one I made and the chocolate crackle one both fall into this category), but also some more elaborate ones for special occasions. As is probably evident, I thought it was a really good mix of recipes, and I’d happily make more from this book. Though I should probably STOP MAKING SLICE now…
This is a pretty good cookbook if you are avoiding eggs – I’d say about half the recipes are eggless, and most of the rest have small enough quantities that they are easily substituted out. There is a good handful of dairy-free recipes, and a lot that are definitely adaptable using soy products. I don’t think I spotted many naturally vegan recipes, but there were a lot that would be very easily veganised – the hummingbird cake, for example, is dairy-free until you get to the icing, for which you could use Tofutti cream cheese or similar, and it only has one egg, which you could easily substitute out for apple sauce or similar. Let’s face it, the tricky part of vegan baking tends to be the eggs, not the dairy, and as I said, in a lot of cases there is no egg to worry about.
I was pleased to see a good handful of gluten-free recipes, and at least one gluten and dairy-free recipe, though interestingly they were not marked as such or indexed in any way – personally, I’d have been all over this, with, at the very least, an index at the end of recipes suitable for people with Coeliac Disease. Again, there were a lot of recipes that could be easily adapted – a lot of slices have a crushed biscuit (cookie, for any Americans reading this) base, and it’s just a matter of choosing a gluten-free biscuit to crush. Or they are made out of cereals such as rice bubbles or cornflakes, which, while not gluten-free in those particular brands, do tend to have gluten-free analogues.
Altogether, a very worthwhile purchase. I’ve been sort of craving slices for a few months, to be honest, so I was always going to be helpless in the face of a cookbook like this. But I think even if I hadn’t been, this would be a good purchase. And a fine introduction to the great Australian art of slice-making.
(Yes, apparently slice is a very Australian thing. Who would have guessed it?)
This time last year…Leftovers Book Review: Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook, by Isa Chandra Moskovitz and Terry Hope Romero Vegan Marshmallows – first attempt