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 Ingredients (see the footnotes for using store-bought puff pastry instead)
Egg Yolk Custard Ingredients
Optional (to top the cake)
- 2-3 cups berries (blueberries, raspberries or any other kind of berries)
Make Puff Pastry or use store-bought puff pastry (see bottom of the recipe card for details)
Measure out all of the ingredients for the puff pastry and get your tools and utensils ready.
Mix 2/3 cup cold water, 1 Tbsp vinegar & 3 Tbsp vodka (replace with water if not using) in a cup.
In a separate cup whisk together 2 eggs and a 1/8 tsp salt. Combine mixtures of two cups and stir to combine.
By food processor: Add 5 cups flour to the cup of your food processor. Now add 3 ½ sticks cold, cubed butter, and pulse or process until the crumbs are pea-size.
By hand: Alternatively, pour the flour onto the cutting board, then add cold, cubed butter, and using a long, sharp knife keep cutting and mixing the mixture until the pieces are pea-size.
Add wet to dry: Add the liquid ingredients and continue pulsing or mixing until the dough starts sticking to itself a bit, but is not formed yet.
Form into a dough: Pour the content of the food processor bowl onto a work surface and start gathering and pressing 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 & Divide: Shape the dough into a log and then cut it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, cover, and refrigerate for about an hour to allow the liquid to hydrate the flour. This will also make it easier to roll the dough out later.
Make the Egg Yolk Custard
Eggs & Sugar: In a 6 qt pot whisk together 7 egg yolks & 1 ½ - 2 ¼ cups sugar adding about ¼ cup of milk to make it easier to mix into a smooth mixture.
Flour & Milk: Add the [/adjustable]⅔cups flour and whisk again, forming a very uniform, clump-free batter. Add another ¼ cup[/adjustable] of milk to make it easier.
Heat the remaining milk in a saucepot or a microwave. If heating on a stovetop, make sure to heat over medium-low heat and stir continously to prevent scorching.
Temper eggs: Temper the egg yolk mixture by slowly pouring the hot milk in, all the while mixing. Adding the hot milk gradually will prevent the eggs from curdling and separating.
Cook: Now set over medium heat and cook for 2-3 minutes past coming to a boil, whisking constantly to prevent scorching. Add 1 Tbsp of vanilla extract and stir to incorporate.
Add butter: Add [/adjustable]1 ¾ sticks butter, allow to melt and stir the custard into a smooth mixture. Alternatively, you can beat the butter into the cooled to room temperature custard. [/adjustable]
Cool custard: Allow the custard to cool by pouring it into a jelly roll baking sheet, covering it with plastic wrap so it touches the custard, which will prevent a film 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.
How to roll the puff pastry cake layers:
Place a damp kitchen towel on the table, then put an upside-down jelly roll baking pan on top. The kitchen towel will help prevent to prevent the baking sheet from moving as you roll.
Roll out 1 dough ball into a 11-12 inch circle, dusting the top surface with flour as needed. Pierce with a fork about every 1 inch - this will prevent large bubbles from forming as it bakes.
Alternatively, you can lightly wet your rolling surface, then place a piece of foil larger than 12 inches and smooth it out to adhere to the table. Now roll the dough on top of it. The foil won't move, giving you a steady rolling surface. Working this way, you can pre-roll all the cake layers, nonstop while some of them are baking.
Bake: Bake each puff pastry cake layer for 5-7 minutes or until lightly golden. Then, remove from the oven and place a 10-inch plate or lid on top and cut around it with a sharp knife collecting all scraps to a bowl. Allow to cool. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
Crumble all the cake scraps.
Assemble the Napoleon Cake
Place a dab of frosting on a serving platter, top with the first cake layer and press to adhere.
Reserve and refrigerate about 1 cup of custard for covering the sides, later.
Now, spread about 4 large spoonfuls of Napoleon Custard into an even layer. Repeat with the rest of the custard and cake, finishing with a layer of custard on top.
Sprinkle the top with some of the crumbled up cake scraps to keep the custard from drying out. Leave the cake at room temperature for 12 hours, then refrigerate for another 12 hours. Or just refrigerate the cake for 48 hours before continuing with the next step.
Unmold the cake by running a thin knife between the cake and the ring. Remove the ring.
Take the reserved custard and smooth over the sides of the cake. Set the cake on a cake stand, over a baking sheet. Take a handful of cake scraps and press them against the sides of the cake, allowing the rest to fall into the baking sheet. Continue going around the cake sides in the above-described manner. Sprinkle the leftover puff pastry cake crumbs over the top of the cake. Top with berries and sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.
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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