Sunday, May 4, 2014

My Baba Pola's Napoleon cake

By Jessica Raytselsky
Napoleon or as the french say it Mille-feuille meaning a thousand leaves due to the amount of layers of flaky puffy pastry dough. Napoleon has a special place in my heart since, my grandmother would always make this recipe for birthdays and family gatherings. It's my favorite recipe she would make since I have always had a sweet tooth and she's been making this since I was a baby. My grandma would make me this cake for each of my birthdays from hand and this cake can be difficult to make.

Napoleon is a layered cake filled with thin layers of puff pastry dough and filling made with a vanilla egg custard. It is moist, creamy, sweet and flaky. According to Food Timeline FAQ'S: Pie & Pastry, says Napoleon has a long history and nobody is quite sure what the actual history is but people think Napoleon's get their name from the city of Naples in Italy not from the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. It comes from the word "Napolitain" which is referring to a pastry that is made in the tradition of Naples, Italy. The pastry used for making Napoleon is mille feuilles. Food historians place the creation of this mille feuilles in 19th century Europe, it might possibly be a descendant of filo, which was known to the ancient Middle East and Greek cooks. Filo is also composed of many layers or leaves. One of the most famous filo recipes is baklava. Napoleon can be made by using filo dough.

I personally love Napoleon rather than regular vanilla cake. Napoleon is nothing like your regular vanilla cake. It's much lighter than dense vanilla cake. Napoleon is delicate, flaky, has just the right amount of sweetness, and creamy. Vanilla cake can be very dense, overly processed, heavy, overly sweet and can have way too much frosting.

yields about 5-10 people

(You can also buy pre made Pilo dough in your freezer section if you want to save time)

1 1/2 cups of butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup of (cold) water
6 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of vinegar
3 tablespoons of vodka or cognac
1 Teaspoon of salt

Egg custard filling recipe:
7 egg yolks
6 cups of milk
1/2 cup of sugar
1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of butter


Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1) Combine the vodka/cognac, water and vinegar together.
2) In another bowl or cup, whisk the eggs and salt together.
3) Combine both mixtures in one cup or bowl.
4) In a food processor or you can do this by hand-
Add cold butter and flour either pulse until crumbly little pea sizes
 Use your hands to combine the butter and flour until crumbly little pea size balls.
5) Then add egg to this mixture and keep mixing until it begins to stick to itself but has not formed yet.
6) Then take out the dough and put on a baking surface, roll into a ball and then begin to and knead it a little.
7) Roll the dough into a log like shape and cut into 12 equal sizes. Then shape each one into a ball and throw it into the fridge.

Egg Custard:

1) Whisk together the egg YOLK and the sugar. While whisking Add a 1/4 cup of milk.
2) Then add the flour to the mixture while whisking. Add another 1/4 cup of milk.
3) Heat the rest of the milk. Boil and keep stirring the entire time, so it doesn't burn.
4) Move the egg yolk and flour mixture to a larger pot.
5) Add the hot milk a little bit at a time to the mixture of egg yolk and flour. Keep stirring the entire time while pouring.DO NOT POUR ALL AT ONCE IT WILL SCRAMBLE THE EGGS
6)  Pour the mixture back into the pot and bring the pot to a boil. KEEP STIRRING so it doesn't burn and boil for 2-3 minutes.
7) Add butter and stir to a smooth custard
8) Then let the custard cool and place on a baking sheet to cool at room temperature. Do not put in the fridge.


1) On a baking sheet roll out one ball of dough between 11-12 inches across. Add flour if need so it doesn't stick to the sheet or hands.
2) Bake for 5-7 minutes until golden brown.
3) Repeat for the remaining balls of dough.
4) Once cooled, cut 8 inch circles in the dough. (Be careful when cutting because the dough will be really crumbly and fragile and be careful not to crack it)
5) You can crumble the scraps to use for later for decoration.


1) Have a spring form pan and place a little bit of custard in the bottom of the pan.
2) Place the first layer of cake to the bottom.
3) Evenly cover the layer of cake with a layer of custard.
4) Repeat steps 2 and 3 until finished with the last layer.
5) Then on the top add the last layer of custard.
6) Cover the cake and refrigerate for 48 hours.
7) Before serving, add the crumbled scraps to the top of the cake. or you can add powdered sugar to the top
8) Serve chilled


Would you attempt making this recipe or do you guys think that it's too complicated?

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