Best Napoleon Cake Ever!
This Napoleon Cake comes out soft, moist and delicious! No more buying puff pastry for this cake, because you can now make it yourself at home.
I am excited beyond words to share with you this recipe, because it truly makes the best Napoleon Cake ever! This recipe was gotten from here, but originally my friend Inna shared it with me, for which I am grateful, thank you, Inna! This Napoleon cake comes out soft, moist and delicious! No more buying puff pastry for this cake, because you can easily make it yourself at home.
The Secret to Moist Napoleon Cake
The secret to delicious and moist Napoleon is mainly letting it sit in the fridge or at room temperature until the cake layers have absorbed enough of the frosting to make them soft and moist. Having very thin cake layers helps the cake get there faster.
Being too impatient and cutting into the Napoleon cake too early is why all those other Napoleon recipes that I tried did not work. I always allowed the cake to sit in the fridge for 24 hours, but that just wasn’t enough.
This time around I let it sit covered, at room temperature for 18 hours and then another 9 hours in the fridge before I let the knife touch it (if you do decide to keep it at room temperature, do it at own risk, as the frosting has eggs in it and can spoil if your room is too hot). I think allowing it to sit for 48 hours might’ve been even better.
Custard for Napoleon Cake
If you look at my pictures closely, you will see that the frosting is not as smooth as it is supposed to be, and you’re right. For some reason, even though my custard and the butter were all room temperature before I combined them, the butter did not fully incorporate in the cream. Next time, instead of combining the two after the custard cooled down, I will just add the butter while the cream is hot.
Fortunately, it had no effect on the taste of Napoleon and that is why I decided to go ahead and still post the recipe with pictures of my imperfect frosting.
The YouTube video from the gotovim-doma.com website had the ‘embed’ feature, so I included it in my post for you to see right here.
The sweetness of the Cream
In addition to that, I made some changes to the amount of sugar included in the cream for the Napoleon. After I allowed the cream to cool, I tried it and to my taste, it was just not sweet enough. I knew that the whole cake would be even less sweet after the custard gets combined with completely unsweet cake layers, so I took the liberty and added full 1.5 cups powdered sugar to the recipe.
I hope you like this Napoleon just as much as my family does!
Do keep in mind that this is not the French version of the Napoleon where the layers are kept crisp. This is the Russian Napoleon version where the layers are intentionally allowed to become very soft. Give this cake a try and let me know what you think in the comment section below!
Best Napoleon Cake Ever!
Quick Puff Pastry
- 400 g butter cold
- 2 eggs
- 150 ml water cold
- 6 cups all purpose flour 650 g
- 3 tbsp vodka /cognac (omit if not using alcohol)
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 1/8 tsp salt
Egg Yolk Custard
- 7 egg yolks
- 6 cups milk
- 1½ - 2¼ cup sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup flour
- 200 g butter
Make Puff Pastry or use store-bought puff pastry (see bottom of the recipe card for details)
- Mix cold water, 1 tablespoon vinegar & 3 tablespoons vodka in a cup.
- In a separate cup whisk together eggs and salt. Combine mixtures of two cups and stir to combine.
- Add flour to the cup of your food processor. Now add cold, cubed butter and pulse or process until the crumbs are pea size. Alternatively, pour the flour onto the cutting board, then add cold butter and using a knife keep cutting and mixing the mixture until the pieces are pea size.
- Add the egg mixture and continue processing until the dough starts sticking to itself a bit, but is not formed yet.
- Pour the content of the food processor bowl onto work surface and start gathering and sticking the dough together with your hands, trying to work it as little as possible. Form a ball and knead it for a couple of seconds until a dough forms.
- Shape the dough into a log and then cut it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, place on a plate, cover with plastic and refrigerate for about an hour.
Work on the Napoleon Cake Filling
Combine egg yolks & sugar in a bowl and whisk them together, adding 1/4 cup of milk to make it easier.
Add the flour and whisk again, forming a very uniform, clump-free batter. Add another 1/4 cup of milk to make it easier.
- Heat the remaining milk in a pot until boiling, all the while stirring to keep the bottom from scorching.
- Transfer the egg & flour mixture into a larger pot (about 3 quarts).
- Tamper the egg yolk mixture by slowly pouring the hot milk in, all the while mixing.
- Pour the mixture back into the pot and bring it to boil, continuously (!!) stirring and keeping the bottom of the pot from scorching. Once boiling, cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add butter, allow to melt and stir to form a smooth custard. Alternatively, you can beat the butter into the cooled to room temperature custard.
- Allow the custard to cool by pouring it into a jelly roll baking sheet and covering it with plastic wrap (plastic wrap should touch the custard, to keep the skin from forming). Do not refrigerate, just bring to room temperature.
Bake the puff pastry cake layers
- Preheat oven to 400F. Set the rack in the middle.
- On a back of a jelly roll baking sheet, roll out 1 dough ball, until about 11-12 inches in size, by dusting the surface with flour as needed.
- Bake for 5-7 minutes, until lightly golden.
- Repeat with the rest of the dough.
- Once the cake layers have cooled, place a 10-inch plate on top of each cake layer and cut around, collecting the scraps into a separate bowl and being careful to keep the cake layers from cracking.
- Crumble the cake scraps.
Assemble the Napoleon Cake
- Place a dab of frosting on a serving platter.
- Place first cake layer and press to adhere.
- Surround the cake layer by a cake ring. The rest of the cake will be built inside the ring.
- Place about 4 large spoons of frosting and smooth it around. Repeat with the rest of the frosting and cake.
- Cover the cake and keep at room temperature for 12 hours+12 hours in the fridge, or in the fridge for at least 48 hours before continuing.
- Run a knife between the cake and the ring. Remove the ring.
- Take some crumbled scraps into the palm of your hand and press them against the sides of the cake, all around. Sprinkle the rest of the cake crumbs on top of the cake. The cake scraps are not only for decoration but also to keep a skin from forming on the custard.
- Serve chilled.
Replacement for Homemade Puff pastry
Use 2 boxes of storebought frozen Pepperidge Farm puff pastry in place of homemade puff pastry if desired.
For this, roll out each thawed puff pastry sheet on a floured surface to a 20"x14" rectangle and poke it with a fork every 1 inch, then bake for about 8 minutes at 400F or until uniformly golden in color. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Trim the edges of the cake with a sharp knife to make all layers the same size.
Now cut 4 baked cake layers into two equal halves, giving you 8 cake layers.
Layer the 8 baked puff pastry cake layers with about 1 cup of prepared custard, then use the rest to cover the top and sides of the Napoleon cake.
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