No-Fuss Napoleon Cake
The Napoleon cake is the glory of the Russian New Year’s meal. Traditionally made entirely by hand, it would take days to make, as the dough had to be mixed together, then chilled and rolled out and baked layer by layer. To shortcut this process and still make the show-stopping dessert, simply buy high-quality puff pastry (preferably all butter) for the cake. Then, all that’s left to do make the cream, bake the sheets and assemble.
- 7 sheets puff pastry, rolled out and baked according to package instructions
- 5 egg yolks
- 1½ cups sugar
- 4¼ cups milk, warmed
- 5 tablespoons flour
- 14 tablespoons butter, very soft
- Powdered sugar for garnish
- While the puff pastry is baking, make the cream. Place the egg yolks in a medium pot. Whisk in the sugar. Once it becomes too thick to mix further, add enough of the warm milk (around ½ cup) to loosen it up and make it easier. Whisk in the flour until there are no more clumps. Put the pot on medium-low heat and continue to mix with a wooden spoon continuously. Once the cream starts to thicken, keep stirring until it coats the entire spoon. Once the cream has thickened, whisk in the butter a bit at a time until smooth. When the pastry sheets are ready, remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.
- To assemble the cake, start with a layer of baked and cooled puff pastry. Liberally spread the cream on top. Repeat this process with 5 more sheets, saving one sheet for the top. Once you’ve built your cake with the 6 sheets, spread the remaining cream all around the top and sides. Take the last sheet of puff pastry and break it up, either in the food processor or with your rolling pin. Cover the cake in crumbs all around. Then put the cake in the fridge and let it rest in the fridge for at least 24 hours, preferably 48. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, slice, serve and watch it disappear.