I am not entirely sure the history behind the napoleon cake, other then the roots are obviously French. How it became one of the most popular cakes in the Russian table repertoire, other then having simple ingredients, is probably a story of its own. This is the cake served at birthdays, big holidays and occasionally just because (if someone wants to put in the time).

There are two kinds - custard and buttercream. Butter cream retains crispness of the puff pastry, but the custard kind soaks the pastry into a delectable dream. Can you tell which is my favorite? Though it's not complex to make,  this type requires some planning.

This post is most entirely dedicated to the custard, not puff pastry used. Puff pastry can be made or bought, but should be fully cooled before the custard is applied.

Serves 25 people (about 8 layers of 10x10 inch pastry)

Creme Custard

12 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
5 tbsp flour
4.5 cups milk
Vanilla to taste
1 stick butter (unsalted)
1.5 cups whipping cream

Whisk yolks, sugar, flour and vanilla together.  Add about a cup of the milk and incorporate.  Temper the remaining milk on the stove until very warm. Lower the heat to medium. Add in the yolk mixture and whisk continuously until thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and continue whisking sporadically as the custard cools, to prevent skin from forming. Alternatively, you can cover with clear wrap and allow it to touch top of the cream, but this takes longer.  After fully cooled, place in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.  In the meantime, in a mixer whip the cream until stiff. Whip butter in a separate dish, add cream a tablespoon at a time at first working the mixture into a uniform state.  Continue until butter and cream have fully come together. In a mixer, beat whipping cream mixture with the custard, for about 5 minutes. Your cream is ready to be ladled onto puff pastry on your choice. This cake is made at least a day ahead of enjoying it, but you can always use the remaining cream in a dessert of its own, with sliced fresh strawberries.


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