With practically all of Granny's living descendants in the one place for 'Christmas' last weekend, it seemed an ideal opportunity to test out the two versions of her famous slice that appear on the pages of her recently rediscovered recipe book. My idea was to present both slices to the family in a blind tasting and have them vote on which one they believed was the one Granny had brought along each year at Christmas. I was pretty sure which one it would be - obviously the one she'd marked "My Choice" in the book. Would I be surprised? Would the proof be in the tasting? Would we finally have the answer, and the recipe, for the true, original Granny's Slice?
The recipes are actually quite different. Let's call the left-hand slice A and the right-hand one B. Here we have the base layer and, as you can see, A is much paler than B, and also a lot drier. Recipe A calls for half the butter of B, but it is written in imperial measurements and simply says "1/4 butter" - which I interpreted as a quarter of a 250g pack. This turned out to be not nearly enough to hold the dry ingredients together, so I added a little more. I suspect that "1/4 butter" is a different quantity altogether. The other main difference is that A has a teaspoon of cinnamon in the base, which affected the finished flavour dramatically and made the comparison between the two stark.
I should also point out here that these two recipes use self-raising flour in the base, whereas Bill Granger's recipe, which I have cooked several times in recent years when trying to emulate the Granny's Slice of the past, uses plain flour and baking powder. Could this make much of a difference? Hmm...
Here we see the two slices with their second layer - the caramel filling. Slice A is much darker, which is partly because I got distracted and let it burn slightly in the pot, but mostly because the recipe says to bake it for 20 minutes, as opposed to Recipe B's 8 minutes. That aside, the actual ingredients are almost identical (well, they are if 10 ounces of butter is the same as 30 grams) and, upon tasting, I found there was little to no difference in the flavours of these two caramel layers.
Forgive the dreadful night-time photo, but here we see the third and final layer - the chocolate topping. Dramatic differences come into play here - dare I say illustrative of different times in Granny's life. Slice A's topping is pulled together with copha and cocoa, while B's is a much more modern melted chocolate and butter. So that's the forensic breakdown complete. Now the voting...
I should point out that during the tasting/voting process, there was some confusion as to what we were actually voting for, and the whole thing was made trickier by the fact that some of the tasters are recent additions to the family - hubbies, lady friends - who couldn't bring to the table any true taste memory of the original slice. So some people voted for their favourite of the two and others were dead-set certain that either A or B was the real McCoy and voted accordingly, putting preferences aside. So ultimately, despite a landslide win to Slice B (eight votes to A's two), the answer is still as unclear as it ever was. My big sis, who has a pretty savvy palate, was one of the two, and that plus Granny's own hand indicating "My Choice" in the book leads me to believe Slice A is the original. However, I much preferred Slice B and was torn between wanting to know which was the real thing and wanting the real thing to be the one I loved the most. Because I suspect that, even if A is the original, I'm going to turn to Recipe B when I feel like some of Granny's Slice. And it doesn't seem right if it's not.
But perhaps we'll just go along with Big Sis's theory - A was Granny's choice, yes, and the slice we enjoyed for many a Christmas with its rich dark caramel, its cinnamon-scented biscuit base and its...chocolate-less chocolate topping...that is until Granny chanced upon Recipe B one day, tried it out, preferred it over the original (just like her favourite granddaughter all these years later) and did the switcheroo without saying a word to anyone.
So the verdict? They're both Granny's Slice. Now you bake them both and see which one you prefer.
(Recipes to follow...it's late...must sleep...)