I love this easy and delicious Napoleon cake! I made this cake for my birthday, and people asked me to write down the recipe, so here it is.
On Thursdays, my mother used to send for pastries from the finest patisserie in Tehran. There were two pastries that I remember very well – one was the Napoleon pastry that I liked, and the other was a pastry with, among other things, a kind of grapes that almost taste like wild strawberries that I loved. 2020 was the first time I could buy wild strawberry grapes, as they are called here in Sweden. I have waited more than 50 years for this!
Let us get back to Napoleon’s cake. I decided to bake the Napoleon cake on my birthday. It turned out so tasty and beautiful. People asked me for the recipe on Facebook, so finally, I am now about to tell you all the secrets about this wonderful – delicious cake. As usual, I did a lot of research and decided to do it my way. The best part was the decision to do it with ready-made puff pastry. The main issues to think about when you want to make this cake is that the dough (after rolling it) should be about 3 – 4 mm thick. (0,12 – 0,16 inches)
In Sweden, you usually have a layer of apple puree at the bottom – but that does not work when our dear daughter in law is visiting since she is allergic to apples! I decided to make the Russian version with vanilla cream that is quite thick in texture instead. But – it must be beautiful too. I decorated my cake with strained homemade raspberry jam mixed with a little gelatin – it turned out great. Why strain the raspberry jam, you may wonder – well – because this way you will have a smooth and attractive surface on the cake.
If you use fresh fruit and mint leaves to decorate the cake with, it is useful if you use a little gelatin mixed with, for example, lemon juice and brush it on the fresh fruit and leaves (as the one in the picture below. Not only it turns out beautiful, but it will also be more durable. 😊
|4 ready-made puff pastry||Garnish|
|For the vanilla cream||3 – 4 dl Raspberry jam*|
|1 liter of milk (full milk 3 %)||2 – 3 gelatin leaves|
|300 gram of sugar||Brushing of fruit and leaves|
|4 eggs||1 gelatin sheet|
|120 grams of cornstarch||About 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice or lime.*|
|20 – 30 grams of butter|
|20 grams of vanilla sugar or extract|
*strain so that you get rid of the seeds before you measure the jam.
*or something similar.
Use your imagination
- Mix 1 liter of milk with 300 grams of sugar in a large saucepan. Keep it on medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Stir frequently so that the milk does not “burn” at the bottom. Let it simmer – do not boil!
- Meanwhile, mix 4 eggs with 120 grams of cornstarch – the best result is achieved if you use an electric whisk.
- Remove the milk from the stove, pour in a few spoonsful of the warm milk into the egg mixture while whisking – when you have poured in about 3 soup spoonful – pour it back into the saucepan and whisk with the electric whisk for a short while.
- Put the cream back on the stove on low heat, continually whisking until the cream starts to thicken; it takes about 5 minutes.
- Take it from the stove and mix in 20 – 30 grams of butter – stir until it has dissolved. Then mix in the vanilla sugar or extract and stir until it is mixed properly with the cream.
- Pour it into a big bowl, place plastic wrap over it, all the way down to the surface of the cream, and put it in the fridge. The plastic foil prevents the cream from getting a hard surface. It takes a few hours before the cream has become cold and “firm.” In the meantime, you can fix the puff pastry sheets.
- Set the oven to 200° – 220° degrees Celsius or 392° – 428° Fahrenheit
- if you have a convection oven 200° Celsius (392° Fahrenheit), otherwise 220 ° degrees Celsius or 428° Fahrenheit.
- Open the puff pastry and unfold it on the baking table or kitchen counter. Leave the paper that the puff pastry comes with. Fold the puff pastry in half and roll it to get a puff pastry sheet 23 x 26 cm. (3 – 4 mm thick)- 9,05 x10,24 inches and 0,12 – 0,16 inches thick.
- Rinse the oven form with cold water – wipe off, put on parchment paper, and then turn the rolled puff pastry sheet on the oven form with parchment paper.
- Cut small notches in the dough with a sharp knife; it should be “a little” more significant than just holes.
- Put it in the oven – it takes about 20 minutes (may vary from oven to oven).
- Do the dough test: insert a spatula under the edge of the dough, lift gently. If the dough remains flat and does not bend or break in the middle, it is ready to take out from the oven.
- Repeat this process with 3 puff pastry sheets. Let them cool separately before stacking them with parchment paper in-between.
- The fourth puff pastry plate should not be folded but used as it is. But otherwise, you do precisely the same process as the other puff pastry sheets, i.e., you roll out the dough a little lightly, cut small holes all over the puff pastry sheet, rinse the oven form with cold water, wipe it with a kitchen towel, put on a parchment paper, and turn the whole puff pastry sheet over on the oven form. Bake this one a little longer than the others to get a little more color – we will use this for garnish.
Assembling the cake
- Start by preparing the cake tray or dish. Watch the video where I explain the method.
Put the first layer with the puff pastry base, spoon over the vanilla cream, and spread it out; it should be quite a thick layer.
- Add another layer with the puff pastry sheet and vanilla cream. The third (last sheet) should be laid with the “rough” side down so that you get a smooth surface on top of the cake.
- Trim the cake with a sharp knife so that you get smooth and straight edges (see video). Spread cream around the cake.
- Meanwhile, you can soak 2 – 3 gelatin sheets (covered with water) for about 5 -10 minutes.
- Melt 3 – 4 dl with raspberry jam on low heat (the kernels should be gone); strain the jam before.
- When the jam has warmed up, you can add the gelatin leaves and stir so that they dissolve. Let it cool for about 5 minutes before spreading it on the cake.
- Spoon the jam and smooth it out with a brush. Be careful so that it does not start to run out on the side of the cake!
- When you are done, you can garnish the cake’s sides with the crumbs you made earlier.
- Remove the parchment paper under the cake; you may need help to do so.
- Decorate the cake to your liking and taste. I used red currants and raspberries along with mint leaves. You should keep in mind that both the fruit and the leaves will be most beautiful if you brush on a little gelatin liquid. Soak 1 gelatin sheet in water, heat 2 – 3 tablespoons squeezed lemon or lime in a saucepan, then melt the gelatin leaf in the liquid when it is warm. Brush on fruit and leaves. These look most beautiful that way and last better over time.
Let the cake rest in the fridge before serving. The best result is obtained if you prepare the cake the day before it is to be enjoyed.
- The absolute most comfortable decoration is if you put a layer of cream on top of the cake and put-on puff pastry crumbs.
- You can also whip two dl whipping cream with a little sugar (1 – 2 tbsp) and mix with the vanilla cream before spreading on the cake.
We find many names for those we love, including the Napoleon cake – known initially as mille-feuille (thousand layers). The original recipe is from the 1650s (François Pierre La Varenne) and was changed by Marie-Antoine Carême sometime in the 1800s.
The Swedish variant was created by Johan Broqvist as a companion test in Austria in the middle of the 19th century. He started the patisserie “Brokvist konditori” in Växjö, which is now run by his descendants (5th generation). (source: Wikipedia).
The cake has no connection to Napoleon, although the pastry has Napoleon in almost all languages. In Larousse Gastronomique, the pastry is called gateau Neapolitan, i.e., Neapolitan pastry,
In Russia, the pastry is considered to be a national culinary heritage.