This is one of my all time favorite cakes. It’s a Napoleon Cake (Наполеон), a popular Russian cake made with puff pastry and smooth buttery creamy filling.
This is a very popular Russian cake and I remember my mom used to make if when I was little. She didn’t make it too often because it was a huge pain to make it (the way she puts it). You see, back when my mom was in culinary school and a young chef, they didn’t have the privilege of having frozen puff pastry like we do now. Any time they wanted puff pastry, they had to make it from scratch. As great as it is and as much as I love things to be homemade, it really is a pain to spend two days making a small pastry cake. This is exactly why I always thought this cake was so special.
To this day, my mom makes this cake for me on my birthday. Well, almost every birthday; I usually choose if I want this Napoleon Cake or a different cake (that I may share sometime soon).
Napoleon cake that you will find now, is usually made with a custard like filling. It is a more recent way of making this cake. I wanted to make a cake that my mom used to make when I was little. I called and asked her how she used to make this cake in Russia. She told me that back then, they used to make it with butter/condensed milk filling. It’s a little different from the way it is made now but it’s super delicious. Since I wanted to recreate a childhood favorite, I made the cake the same way that she made it twenty years ago.
- 1 box of puff pastry (2 sheets)
- ½ cup of butter, unsalted and at room temperature
- ¼ of 14 oz can of condensed milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 400, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and lightly spray it with some baking spray.
- Defrost the puff pastry and cut each square in half. This will give you four layers. Using a fork, poke some holes evenly through the pastry (about 3 times on each rectangle: top, middle, bottom).
- Place the puff pastry carefully on the cookie sheet and bake it for about 14-15 minutes.
- Cool the sheets of baked pastry completely.
- While the pastry is cooling, make the frosting.
- In a bowl of an electric mixer, with a whisk attachment, combine butter, condensed milk and vanilla extract. Beat on high for 2-3 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and the whisk attachment. Beat for about another 2 minutes. The frosting will be very smooth, light and creamy.
- Collect all the crumbs from the puff pastry and press it in a few spots to get some extra crumbs. You will use those crumbs for the topping of the cake.
- Spread the frosting on top of each pastry layer, even on the top one. Spread the crumbs that you collected evenly over the top layer.
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