Napoleon cake is one of the most popular cakes in Ukraine and other post-Soviet countries. I’ve tried a lot of different Napoleon cakes as every family has their own recipe. One time, when I was a college student, during a birthday party Napoleon cake was proudly served. After I tried that cake, I immediately knew that this is the best cake I’ve ever had and I wanted its recipe! Since then, Napoleon cake is one of my very favorite cakes and I am making it only for very special occasions.
This cake needs to be made ahead as it must sit in a fridge for 24 hours. So the best way is to make it one day ahead. It takes about 3 hours to make it.
– 3 cups flour
– 2 sticks unsalted butter, cold
– 1 egg
– 150 ml water, cold
– Pinch of salt
– 3 eggs
– 1 cup sugar
– 1.5 Tablespoons flour
– 1 Tablespoon starch
– 750 ml milk
– 2 sticks unsalted butter
Make Puff Pastry
- Put butter for 15 min in the freezer. Whisk the egg in the cup.
2. In a medium bowl with a fork lightly stir together flour and salt.
3. Grate butter into the flour, you can use a pastry blender instead of a grater.
While the dough is chilling, prepare the custard.
8. Separate egg yolks and mix them very well with sugar in a saucepan.
9. Add flour and starch, mix well. Add 1 cup cold milk, mix very well. Make sure there are no lumps.
10. Put the pan on medium-low heat. While it is warming up, very slowly add remaining milk, stirring constantly.
11. Cook the mixture, continue stirring constantly (so it doesn’t get lumpy) until it becomes thicker. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
12. Remove from heat and let it cool for 15 – 20 minutes, then add butter and mix it in as it melts. Set aside.
Baking the layers
13. Split dough into 10 pieces, form little balls and put them back into the fridge.
14. Preheat oven to 375 F. Set the rack in the middle.
15. Get one piece of the dough from the fridge, roll it onto a large sheet of parchment paper into a very thin crust about 10”-11’’ in diameter.
16. Put 9” diameter plate on the top and cut out circle. Do not take away cut off piece – we will bake it together with the main circle and will use it later.
18. Place the parchment paper with dough straight into the oven on a baking rack (or you can place it onto a large cookie sheet). Bake for 6-7 minutes or until the top is golden. It is easy to burn so keep an eye on the crust! Where the crust is thinner, the color could be slightly brown and it is OK.
19. While the first layer is baking, to save time, you can get another piece of parchment paper and start working on the next layer.
20. When the first layer is done, take it out of the oven, place central circle on a plate and cut off pieces – in a separate bowl. You can re-use the paper to roll out and bake the next layer of pastry.
Repeat steps 15 – 20 for all the rest of the dough.
Making the topping
21. Put all baked cut off pieces of the crust and one circle (usually I am choosing the piece which didn’t come out well, damaged, broken or is the darker than other pieces) into a gallon size Ziploc bag, close it (squeeze the air out) and using the rolling pin, roll it over the bag several times to make fine crumbs.
Assembling the cake
22. Put one crust on the cake dish and spread a generous amount of custard cream over the top.
23. Put the next layer on top of the first layer and spread custard cream again.
24. Repeat until all layers have been stacked up to produce the cake.
25. Sprinkle the crumbs over the top layer of the cake and over the sides. Let the cake sit in a fridge for 24 hours.
The next day, make a cup of tea and enjoy the most delicious Napoleon cake!
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