Have been with the man for a long time now - loving every minute obv - but it surprises me that still, sometimes, we are entirely foreign to each other. On the weekend I bought some lovely Bramleys from Chegworth with the intention of making apple pie with a cheddar crust, and then when that idea was abandoned, a repeat on the lovely apple and blackberry duff. Monday night, when I got home, didn't fancy the faff of doing either. I have plenty of Flanahans Irish Porridge Oats from the Bord Bia evening at the Irish Embassy and thought they would make a very good - and much simpler - combination with the apples. Decided to make a slice.
Peeled and sliced the apples and mixed them liberally with cinnamon, mixed the luscious oats with flour, melted butter and brown sugar and added it to the dry ingredients. So far so good. Then I asked the man to get the slice tin out for me. Complete incomprehension, total and utter bewilderment. Not a clue. 'You don't have slices in this country?' As soon as I said it I knew it was true. In the twenty five years I have been in this country there has not been a single slice.
They are a quintessential Australian delight, passed down from generation unto generation, added to packed lunches and made fresh to serve up for afternoon tea, served with tea every time. My aunt used to make a lovely one with a biscuity buttery base topped with apricot jam topped with coconut. My mother made a fabulous one with dates and chocolate. My entire childhood was punctuated with these treats and yet my sweetheart had no inkling.
It's difficult to explain them really. They are not cake and they are not biscuit but a kind of halfway house between the two. The mix is made and then flattened out to line the base of a slice tin - a rectangular baking pan that is usually 18x32cm and about 2 cm deep and is also known as a lamington pan but only to those who know what a lamington is - then baked and cooled in the tray before cutting into, well, slices. The beauty of a slice is that it is not as ostentatious as baking a cake for visitors, yet it says you've made so much more of an effort than just knocking up a batch of biscuits. Final rule of oz etiquette - you offer them round as a piece of slice, not a slice of slice. Obv.
I told him all this and he was amazed. A new sweet treat for my cakey pig.
Oaty Apple Slice
Makes 20 pieces
150g porridge oats
275g plain flour
1 tspn salt
110g light brown sugar
225g unsalted butter
2 cooking apples, weighing about 450g before peeling
1 tspn cinnamon
2 tspn golden caster sugar
In a large bowl mix the oats, flour and salt. In a small saucepan melt the butter and sugar together till thoroughly combined and foamy. Add the hot butter to the dry ingredients and mix together with a wooden spoon.
Peel, core and quarter the apples, slice thinly - no thicker than a pound coin - and mix with the cinnamon and caster sugar.
Line a slice/lamington/rectangular baking tray with parchment. Put half the oat mix into the base and press it out to cover the whole base. Top the oat mix with an even layer of the sliced apples. Top the apples with the rest of the oats, again pressing it out evenly to cover the fruit.
Bake in a Gas 4/200C/375F oven for 25-30 minutes till the top is golden all over.
Cool in the tin on a rack then slice into rectangles.
Next time you fancy a cuppa grab yourself a piece of slice!