|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 41g||53%|
|Saturated Fat 23g||115%|
|Total Carbohydrate 81g||29%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||6%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Napoleon cake is one of Russia's national desserts made with up to 16 layers of crispy pastry filled with creamy custard. It resembles French mille-feuille but with more layers of alternating custard and pastry. Exact recipes can vary a bit from cook to cook—this Napoleon cake recipe yields a 10-layer cake to save a little time and avoid the potential pitfalls of a taller confection.
It's a bit time-consuming to make, but the rewards of a soul-satisfying dessert are so worth it. It's an impressive cake that is sure to impress your guests. You will be left with several egg whites, but don't toss them out. Make an egg white omelet or two and a delicious meringue for pie.
- For the Pastry Layers:
- 2 ounces/4 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup sour cream (room temperature)
- 2 large egg whites (room temperature, stiffly beaten)
- 1 tablespoon vodka
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- For the Custard Filling:
- 5 cups whole milk
- 10 large egg yolks (room temperature)
- 1 large egg white (room temperature)
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 8 ounces/16 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this Napoleon cake is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and baking.
Make the Pastry Layers
Gather the ingredients.
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar together until creamy.
Fold in the sour cream, stiffly beaten egg whites, vodka, and salt.
Gently fold in the flour, a spoonful at a time, until the dough is soft and pliable. You might not need all of it.
Wrap in plastic and chill for 1 to 2 hours to make it easier to roll out.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 F and butter a baking sheet and dust with flour.
Divide the pastry dough into 10 pieces. Roll out each portion of dough, one at a time, directly on the prepared baking sheet into a very thin 8-inch circle.
Bake each circle of pastry until golden brown, about 6 to 10 minutes. If dough bubbles as it cooks, pierce with a fork.
As each layer is cooked, remove from the sheet pan and set aside to cool on a wire rack. Repeat until all dough pieces have been baked.
Make the Custard Filling
Gather the ingredients.
Pour the milk into a large saucepan and heat, but do not boil.
In a large bowl, beat together the egg yolks, egg white, and sugar until creamy.
Add 6 tablespoons flour and mix well.
Pour this mixture into the warm (but not scalding hot) saucepan of milk, stirring initially with a whisk until smooth and then with a wooden spoon, constantly over low heat until thick and creamy.
Add the butter and vanilla and stir until smooth.
Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Stir frequently as the mixture cools.
Assemble the Torte
Place one layer of the cooked dough in the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan and cover evenly with a layer of cooled custard filling.
Continue to build up the cake in this way, layering the custard on top of the pastry, finishing with the 9th pastry layer.
Crumble the 10th and final pastry and layer over the top of the torte. Refrigerate for 5 to 6 hours.
When ready to serve, run a butter knife around the edges of the cake, remove the springform ring, and, using a cake lifter or two spatulas, carefully transfer to a serving platter.
Use an electric knife to get nice, clean cuts and serve.
How to Store
- Napoleon cake should be kept well-chilled since it contains layers of custard.
- You can make the custard ahead of time by cooling and stirring it, pressing plastic wrap against the surface to cover, and chilling for up to a day.
- Napoleon cake can be stored in the fridge for up to a few days, although it is best eaten soon after a thorough chilling to keep the pastry crisp. Leftovers must be chilled.
Raw Egg Warning
Consuming raw and lightly-cooked eggs poses a risk of food-borne illness.
Why Is It Called Napoleon Cake?
Russian Napoleon cake first appeared in 1912 to commemorate the country's victory over Napoleon 100 years prior. It was originally a single-serving pastry that resembled a bicorne hat. The dessert transformed over the years, growing in width and height, and receive a dusting of crumbled pastry on top symbolizing the snow that aided Russian troops in their victory.
How Do You Eat Napoleon Cake?
Much like mille-feuille, Napoleon cake contains layers of crisp pastry that can be difficult to cut with a fork. Giving the top a few sharp raps with a fork or knife may help to break up some layers of pastry, making it easier to eat.