This year’s Merbein Great Australian Vanilla Slice Triumph was the biggest and best yet, with crowds flocking to sample some of the country’s best slices and dried fruit baked goods.
Cars coming out of Mildura were bumper-to-bumper, chair of Merbein Vanilla Slice Inc Bernadette Wells said, estimating about 1500 slices were devoured by festival goers.
“The day was absolutely wonderful, it was beyond expectations – there would have had to be 12,000 people from everywhere; from Melbourne, South Australia and around Mildura,” she said.
It’s the fourth year the festival has been held in Merbein since it was moved from its home in Ouyen. And it’s no longer just about vanilla slices, with the region’s dried fruit sector also thrown into the spotlight.
Persistence paid off for Ballarat’s Golden Nugget Bakery, which took out the title for the best professional vanilla slice. Baker and owner Colin Matthews has been tweaking his recipe for the better part of 10 years, all in the name of claiming the prestigious title.
They had come close before, placing second last year, but Saturday was the icing on the cake.
“We’ve been entering on and off for the past 10 years, it’s a highly regarded award in the baking industry that we’ve really been wanting,” co-owner Alicia Matthews said.
Alicia said they were thrilled and a little shocked to take out the title.
“When we didn’t get third and we didn’t get second we thought one of the others had definitely won, so we were shocked,” she said, commenting the children shouted, “Daddy has finally won!”
The secret? Alicia put the family’s success down to fresh and good
In the coveted innovative vanilla slice section, Mawson’s Bakery Café took out the top three spots after driving six hours to take part in the festival.
Mawson’s head baker Rob Beanham took out first prize for his French creation, a lemon meringue vanilla slice.
Deb Dowell’s coconut lime vanilla slice was next in line, with Kaitlin Watson’s popcorn caramel flavoured vanilla slice coming a close third.