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Russian Napoleon with Pastry Cream

Slice of cake topped with strawberries on a white decorative plate.

If you’re looking for a simpler version of the famous “Napoleon” cake, look no further. This cake uses store-bought puff pastry, so the only thing that’s left for you to do is bake the layers and make the cream. This is not the French version of the Napoleon where the puff pastry layers are meant to stay crispy. Instead, the Russian Napoleon cake is made by allowing the puff pastry layers soften over a couple of days with the cream until you can use a spoon to glide through the layers. It’s a different approach to the classic Napoleon, but very well-loved by everyone and anyone who tries it!

Close up picture of full cake topped with fresh strawberries on a white tray.

For the cake pictured above, I used 6 of the store-bought Peppridge farm puff pastry sheets . I let them thaw at room temperature for about 30 minutes before unfolding them. Once I unfolded them, slightly stretched them on floured surface, pricked with a fork all over & baked at 400F until puffed up and golden in color.
If you like your cake layers crispy, do not let the cake sit at room temperature once frosted, but quickly transfer to the fridge. If you like your cake layers soft and moist like they’re meant to be in the Russian Napoleon, roll out the cake layers even larger than 16×16 (as thin as you can), then once frosted leave for as long as you feel is safe before taking to the fridge. This will allow the cake to absorb the frosting, making it soft and moist.

Here are some other Dessert recipes:

“Napoleon” & Pastry Cream – {Торт "Наполеон" и Заварной Крем}

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Puff pastry sheets in between a rich buttercream. A classic Russian Napoleon cake recipe.

Author: Marina | Let the Baking Begin
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Russian
Keyword: napoleon cake
Calories: 411 kcal
Servings: 12 servings


Mirror Glaze


  • Strawberry sliced


Bake Puff Pastry Sheets

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Once the puff pastry sheets have thawed, slightly stretch the dough on lightly floured surface, until about 16x16 inches. Prick the dough with a fork, about every 1 inch and bake on a baking sheet until the sheets are slightly golden brown.
  3. Remove from the oven, allow to cool. Repeat with the rest of the sheets. Once the cake layers are baked trim the edges of the sheets so they’re all even and the same in size. Save the scraps.

Make Pastry Cream

  1. Pour 2 cups milk into a heavy-bottomed pot and set over medium heat. Split 2 vanilla beans, scrape out the seeds and add to the milk. Bring to boiling point.

  2. While the milk is heating (keep close eye on it), in a large bowl whisk together 140 grams starch, 455 grams sugar and 1 tsp salt. Add 6 eggs one at a time and continue whisking until homogenous.

  3. Once milk has come to a rolling boil, add 1/3 of the milk mixture into the egg mixture continuously whisking. This will temper the eggs and prevent them from cooking.
  4. Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the rest of the milk (in the pot) and cook constantly stirring, until it comes to a boil. Once boiling cook for 1-2 minutes until the mixture thickens and the raw starch flavor disappears. Do not overcook or it will become thin again.
  5. Transfer pastry cream into a bowl, add the butter (it will melt) cover with plastic wrap (touching the surface of the pastry cream) and let the pastry cream come to room temperature. When no longer warm, whip together with mixer until smooth. Transfer to fridge and allow to completely cool.
  6. *If pastry cream is not smooth, run it through a sieve while still hot.

Make the mirror glaze

  1. Dissolve 1 tsp gelatin in 1/2 cup cold water. Allow to bloom for 2-3 minutes, then heat until gelatin is dissolved (do not boil).

  2. Add 1/2 cup simple syrup into the dissolved gelatin mixture. Stir to combine.

  3. Allow the glaze to cool down and slightly thicken before applying (if the mixture has thickened too much, heat slightly).


  1. Place a dab of frosting on serving tray. Put 1st cake layer on top and press to adhere. Put 1/5th of the frosting onto the cake sheet and spread around. Top with the second cake sheet and again top with pastry. Continue until all layers are frosted. Cover the whole cake in the pastry cream.
  2. Crush saved scraps of puff pastry. Cover the sides of the cake in the cake scraps (this keeps the cake from drying out).
  3. Arrange strawberry slices on top of the cake.
  4. Using a pastry brush, apply the mirror glaze on top of the strawberries.
  5. Leave the cake at room temperature for 3-4 hours, then transfer to fridge and allow to sit for 24 hours before serving.
Nutrition Facts
“Napoleon” & Pastry Cream – {Торт "Наполеон" и Заварной Крем}
Amount Per Serving
Calories 411 Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value*
Fat 16g25%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Cholesterol 116mg39%
Sodium 264mg11%
Potassium 96mg3%
Carbohydrates 63g21%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 50g56%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 539IU11%
Calcium 63mg6%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Marina | Let the Baking Begin

Welcome to Let the Baking Begin! I'm Marina and my love and passion for eating only the most delicious foods drive me to share that love here on Let the Baking Begin (since 2009). With over 20 years of experience in the kitchen, you know the recipes are tested and retested until perfect. I'm so happy to have you here. Enjoy! Read more...

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  • Trisha

    You have use 1 1/2 to 2 1/4 sugar? That a big difference. Not sure what to do. Want to make cake tonight.

    · Reply
    • I add 2 cups. If you prefer your cakes not so sweet, start with the least amount, cook it, then taste and add more if you want it sweeter. Count for the fact that the cake layers themselves are not sweet at all, so the custard is all that’s going to sweeten them, so you want the custard to be jus a tad sweeter than what you want the cake to be.

      · Reply
  • Jeanette

    Very well presented recipes

    · Reply
  • Hi! Steps 8 and 9 both say add butter. How much in each step??

    · Reply
    • Sorry step 8 was an unnecessary. Fixed the recipe 🙂

      · Reply
  • Marina

    when do you add the butter?

    · Reply
    • Thanks for catching that! I added instructions in step 9.

      · Reply

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