This Napoleon cake is the bomb! It is such a great dessert to share.it is a symphony of puff pastry and cream. Easy to make with step by step pictures.
I tasted it at a party and its creaminess lingered in my palate for long. Obviously, the name of the cake struck me too! My curiosity led to a little digging in the history of the cake.
Napoleon cake is a recipe that dates back to the mid-19th century. I was astonished to find that the cake has many names and interesting stories. Initially, the Napoleon cake was a 3 layer puff pastry dessert lined with custard. The filling was occasionally switched with whipped cream. There is a huge hullabaloo about the triangle shape of the cake. Yet, many still believe the napoleon cake was originally rectangle shaped.
Millefeuille, meaning a thousand layers, is what the French and Italians called this cake. This, of course, suggests to the several layers of puff pastry lined with cream that goes into making the cake. Instead of cream, at times vanilla goes in-between the multiple slices. This also stands for United Kingdom naming the cake as cream slice/vanilla slice.
Napoleon cake is the name popularized by the people of US and Russia. In the United States, the term “Napoleon” stands for the city of Naples and hence forth the name. The Russian folks, on the other hand, have their very own elaborate tale to tell.
Russians believe that, the cake came into existence in 1912. It was prepared in Moscow for the first time to celebrate Napoleon’s defeat. The crumb coat denotes the snow that played a vital role in defeating the Napoleonic La Grande Armée spirit.
Yet, another tale suggests that it’s the doing of a chef who intended to fuse napoleon with French cuisine. He took the famous “Royal Biscuit” French cake, sliced it, and stuffed it with custard, assorted whipped cream and strawberry jam.
Making Napoleon Cake with Store-bought Dough
Napoleon cake is an amazing blend of creamy and flaky textures. Even in the technique, there is the merger of baking and frosting. This luscious Russian delight can be prepared right in your kitchen.
To save yourself some toil, you can purchase a puff pastry dough pack from the supermarket. The delicious flavors will be intact, no doubt about that. All you need is half an hour and 3 basic ingredients for the cream.
As the cream gets soaked up by the puffed pastry slices, you are left with a delicious Napoleon cake.
Making Napoleon Cake Dough from Scratch
For making the dough at home, you will need flour, eggs, soft butter, sour crème, baking soda, vinegar, and salt. Everything is to be mixed and knead into soft dough. Divide the dough into small balls. Roll out the small balls with a rolling pin. Do not bother about the shape. Use a round lid to cut the rolled out dough into a round shape. Save the extra bits as it will serve for the crushed topping. The rest of the process is same.
If you wish to make the Napoleon cake a center piece of your party, you can try this simple trick. After the cake is done with the frosting, place it in a beautiful cake stand. Drizzle liquid chocolate in a checked pattern on top of the cake. You can finish off with a few exotic fruits like strawberries beautiful positioned in the center. Even red cherries glazed with sweet syrup make the cake look ravishing.
- It is very essential to let the cake sit in the fridge. It you can let it sit for 24 hours, it will be great. The whole idea is to allow the puff pastries absorb the crème filling.
- If you wish to speed up the soaking process, keep the puff pastry layers thin. At times, pressing down the baked pastries during the layering process helps too.
- The sweetness in the crème needs to be well balanced for a fabulous result. Taste the crème filling before starting to layer. If needed add some more sugar, mix well and then layer.
The creamy Napoleon cake can be as unique as you choose it to be. You can use your favorite filling. Garnish it with seasonal fruits or have it as it is. Resisting this delicate beauty is impossible!!!
HOW TO MAKE NAPOLEON CAKE
- NAPOLEON CAKE LAYERS
- Puff Pastry blocks (thawed as per package instructions)- 1 kg or 2 lb
- All-purpose flour ( for dusting)- ¼ cup
- CREAM FOR NAPOLEON CAKE
- Condensed milk- 1 can ( 397 gm)
- Whipping cream ( 35, 5 %)- 2½ cup
- FOR CAKE DECORATION
- Fresh strawberries- 4-5
- Fresh Blueberries- 2 tbsp
- Vanilla powdered sugar- 1 tbsp
- Preheat your oven to 400 F or 200 C with the rack in the center of the oven.
- Make sure that pastry blocks are thoroughly thawed before rolling.I recommend to leave them overnight in a refrigerator, then allow to stand at room temperature for approx. 20 minutes.
- Divide each block into 2 pieces. You will get totally 4.
- On a clean dry parchment* paper ( lightly dusted with flour) roll out each piece of dough to a large & very thin sheet.
- Cut the rolled out sheet into 2 equal rectangles ( 30 cm x 20 cm each ). Totally you should get 8 rectangles( 30 cm x 20 cm each). Leave the cut edges on the parchment paper. We will need them to decorate the cake.
- Using a pizza cutter or fork, make holes all over the top of the sheets , otherwise it will puff up.
- Place the parchment paper with dough onto a large tray and bake 9-10 minutes or until sheets are slightly golden. Don't over-bake! I baked them in batches of 2. Allow to cool the pastry completely.
- Repeat the same with the remaining sheets of dough. Allow the baked sheets to cool on a wire rack completely.
- CREAM: Pour the 2½ cup of whipping cream in a bowl. Whip the cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Add 1 can of condensed milk.Continue whipping until the cream reaches stiff peaks.
- ASSEMBLING THE CAKE: Place 1 sheet of pastry on a tray . Spread a generous amount of the cream over the first cake layer. Place the second cake layer on top. Press gently.
- Repeat with all 6 layers.
- Crumble the remaining 1 sheet & baked cut-off sections* into crumbs. Mix the crumbs with 1 tbsp of vanilla powdered sugar. Sprinkle the mixture over the top and sides of the cake.
- Transfer to a serving plate.
- Allow to rest in the fridge for 1-2 hours before serving.
*If cut-off pieces do not crumble easily, bake them another 5-10 minutes or until they are browned.
A stand mixer with a whisk attachment or a hand mixer & a metal bowl, a pizza cutter,oven, a spatula.