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.