Friday, January 9, 2009

The Emperor of Cakes - Napoleon (Mille-Feuille) cake recipe

This is my absolutely favorite cake in the world. My true love, when it comes to cakes - and true love lasts a lifetime. I have loved this cake since I was a child and my wonderful mom makes it for me at least twice a year - for Christmas / New Years (and since my sister's favorite is another cake in her repertoire, she always ends up baking two cakes) and usually also for my Birthday. And she used to make it even when there was no ready-made puff pastry that you could just buy in the stores and when she actually had to make her own.
Yes, there are many good cakes out there (as I've recently discovered more and more - I used to not like cakes and desserts and I didn't really enjoy making them, but as you can see from the increased sugar ratio of this blog, things are a'changin'), but Napoleon, ahh, it is and has always been heaven.

In our family it is called the Napoleon Cake (and apparently no-one knows if the name has anything to do with the Emperor or with the city of Naples, but who cares), but I guess the rest of the world knows it more by the name of mille-feuille or custard slice.

My Mother's Heavenly Napoleon (Ema taevalik napoleon):
1 good sized cake (serves at least 12)

- 800 g puff pastry (either self made or store-bought)

Here's a link to making your own puff-pastry from scratch (yields 1 kg). And here's Gordon Ramsay's version that's quicker and yields 700 g-s.

Custard: 6 egg yolks
- 2 glasses of sugar (400 ml)
- 2 tbsp flour
- 750 ml (3 glasses) milk glass of milk
- 300 g softened butter
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- 100 g walnuts

Roll out the puff pastry into 4 thin squares. Poke each slice with a fork (not once, many times and evenly :) and bake until golden.

To make the custard:
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla. Add the flour and whisk again. Then add 1 glass (~250 ml) of milk and whisk so that it's nicely smooth and combined.
Heat 0,5 l of milk in a separate pot and just before it starts boiling, add the mixture of eggyolks and keep constantly mixing on low / medium heat until the mixture thickens.
Set aside and let it cool, when the mixture has cooled down almost entirely (is just slightly warm), add the softened butter and beat it in (the butter shouldn't melt).

Start building the cake, cover a slice of the puff pastry with a generous amount of the custard (the thinner the pastry slices and the more of custard the better), then add another layer of the puff pastry and another layer of custard and so on. Also do the sides with custard and then decorate with walnuts.

And now the hard part - it should sit somewhere cool for 24 hours before eating so that the custard can seep through the layers of puff pastry and the entire cake can become soft and moist.


lisaiscooking said...

That's a very good choice for your favorite cake in the world. It looks amazing.

Joie de vivre said...

That is the prettiest cake! I think I'm going to make it for Sunday dinner at my in laws. I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks for the recipe!

Jo said...

When I first ate this dessert I was thoroughly hooked. Good choice for picking this.

Tangled Noodle said...

This is truly a lovely cake! How nice of you to include links to making your own puff pastry (although I will have to take small steps and use pre-made pastry first). Thank you for sharing!

Kat said...

thanks for sharing my admiration you guys :)
The only problem with having this cake up here is that every time I myself look at it I just SOOOOOO want it :)

L said...

As for the Napoleon - the Russian/Soviet tradition used to be to cut it into triangular slices, just like the Emperors hat.

Anonymous said...

Tegin see nädalavahetus samuti Napoleoni kooki selle retsepti järgi. Ja kas ainult mulle tundub või vanillikastmes on suhkru kogus võimatult suur. Sain sellest muidugi alles siis aru kui kaste valmis ja üritasin seda pärast kõikvõimalike lisadega lahjendada ning kindlasti muutis see kastme maitse teistsuguseks (mitte, et ta selle pärast hea ei olnud:).

Kat said...

anon - chekkasin üle, suhkrukogus on täitsa õige saanud. minumeelest küll ei ole liiga magus - 6 muna ju. ja lehttainas on ju meeldivalt 'mittemingisugune', seega kui kreem sinna imendub saab just paras :)

Tern said...

nice, just try the recipe today, for 1.3KG of puff pastry.
though i have used up 5 hours.

i added additional of the followings :
100gram of sugar
2 egg yolks
250ml of milk
2 stick of fresh vanilla in replacement of 1tsp of vanilla extract.

and our results still looks amazing, abit too sweet i guess.
the only problem i have is microwaving the puff pastry, don't know why some times, it doesn't 'puff' and some times it does, even with the same setting on the microwave.

Anonymous said...; You saved my day again.

alex said...

It's not just your family that calls it Napoleon, it's the whole of Russia.