Napoleon Cake (Napolyeon Tort)

Napoleon Cake
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Napoleon Cake (Tort Napolyeon) is an absolute classic! Popular across the Eastern and Central Europe, this cake is a French-Russian fusion that is simply divine! Made with flaky buttery pastry, and layered with rich and creamy creme mousseline, my version of Napoleon Cake also features a couple of layers of tart blackcurrant jam to cut through the sweetness! Not at all difficult to make, and oh-so-good!

Recently, all the signs were there encouraging me to make a classic Napoleon Cake. A few months ago, my best friend was raving about a Napoleon she keeps gettings from a newly-discovered local baker in Kent. A couple of weeks ago I heard a dog waker call her dog over, and yes, his name was Napoleon (what a name!). Then my mum mentioned that Napoleon might be her favourite cake in the world when she was asking for advice on what to cook for Easter. That was it, I was going to make a Napoleon Cake and share the recipe on the first Sunday in May – Mother’s Day in most of Eastern and Central Europe!

Come to think of it, uploading a recipe and photos of my Mum’s favourite cake may not be the greatest Mother’s Day present, since we are not spending it togetehr and she won’t get to taste it! But it’s the thought that counts, right? And I promose I will make her a Napoleon twice the size when we next meet!

Napoleon Cake

What is a Napoleon Cake or Tort Napolyeon?

Napoleon or Торт Наполеон is a result of French-Russian collaboration.

Napoleon is one of those cakes that everybody in Eastern Europe loves but are too apprehensive to try to make themselves. I don’t know if it is the number of layers or the creme mousseline that many home bakers are scared of, but I personally think it is not much more difficult to make than any other layer cake.

It takes a while from the time you start to the time you can enjoy it, but it doesn’t mean this cake is labour intensive. It takes about 10 minutes to bring the dough together. 20 minutes to roll out and cut the pastry. Then another 20 minutes to make creme mousseline. And finally another 20 minutes for assembly. That’s it! Just over an hour and I’m done! The rest of the time is spent cooling and chilling.

The most challenging part of making this cake comes when it is fully assembled. You need to chill it for at least 12 hours before eating it. And that can really test your patience, if you are anything like me, who always struggles to let my bakes cool, let alone chill for hours before digging in! This time the cake spends in the fridge is crucial though! Baked pastry sheets ‘infuse’ with sweet and creamy creme mousseline and blackcurrant jam, and the texture of the cake becomes extremely satisfying to eat (and cut through).

Step-by-Step Napoleon Cake Recipe:

Place the plain flour and a pinch of salt onto a large chopping board or granite kitchen surface (something you can cut on). Coarsely grate the fridge cold butter onto the flour. Keep dipping the butter into flour to help it not stick to the grater.

Using a long-bladed knife chop and slice the butter and flour mixture in various directions until you have a mixture resembling coarse breadcrumbs.

Lightly whisk a small egg in a bowl. Make a well in the middle of your buttery flour mixture. Add almost all of the egg and 100g of creme fraiche. Using a knife, chop and slice the mixture to incorporate the wet ingredients into the flour. You may need to add the remaining egg if your mixture is very dry.

Bring the mixture into a ball and knead just enough to bring it together. Then roll into a log. Cut the log into 8 rounds. Wrap them separately in cling film (we love Kirkland Signature cling film) and place them in the fridge for 2 hours.

In the meantime, make creme mousseline. In a small bowl, whisk the caster sugar, plain flour, cornflower, an egg and vanilla paste into a paste. Heat the milk until it just reaches boiling point. Keeping the milk on low heat, slowly add the egg and sugar mixture into the milk, whisking vigorously at all times to prevent the egg from scrambling.

Once incorporated, increase the heat to medium and stirring continuously, cook for another 5 minutes until the mixture has thickened and covers the back of the spoon. Take it off the heat and leave to cool completely.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. A tablespoon at a time, keep adding the cooled custard into the butter and keep beating until all the custard is incorporated. Set aside for later (but don’t refrigerate at this point).

Preheat the oven to 200°C Fan. Once your pastry has chilled for at least 2 hours, roll each of the rounds into thin (1-2mm thick) sheets on a floured surface. Using a plate or another round object cut even rounds of the pastry (we used a 17.5cm (7in)) and move the offcuts. Place the rounds on the baking parchment-lined trays put in the oven for 9-11 minutes until the pastry is crisp and just starting to brown. Bake the offcuts too (we’ll use those to decorate the cake).

Once all the pastry rounds and offcuts are baked, leave them to cool completely.

To assemble the cake, place a pastry round smooth side down. Spread a generous tbsp/ 1.5 tbsp of creme mousseline on top of the pastry round going straight to the edges. Place another round of pastry on top and press down lightly. Keep on layering, but on two of the layers, skip the creme mousseline and spread a tbsp of blackcurrant jam instead. I did that on my 2nd and 6th pastry sheets. Finish with a pastry round with the smooth side facing up.

Cover the top and the sides with the remaining creme mousseline. Using your hands crush the offcuts into crumbs. Press them onto the top and the sides of your Napoleon Cake. You can decorate the cake with chocolate or fruit, but traditionally Tort Napolyeon has a very minimalist look.

Chill the cake in the fridge for at least 12 hours before serving!


We love making cakes here at Somebody Feed Seb. Some of our very best bakes are listed below:

Napoleon Cake

Napoleon Cake (Russian Tort Napolyeon)

Napoleon Cake (Tort Napolyeon) is an absolute classic! Popular across the Eastern and Central Europe, this cake is a French-Russian fusion that is simply divine! Made with flaky pastry made with butter and creme fraiche, and layered with rich and creamy creme mousseline, my version of Napoleon Cake also features a couple of layers of tart blackcurrant jam to cut through the sweetness! Not at all difficult to make, and oh-so-good!
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Prep Time 50 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Resting & Chilling: 14 hrs
Total Time 15 hrs 10 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Eastern European, Lithuanian, Russian
Servings 8 portions
Calories 381 kcal

Equipment

  • Electric Mixer

Ingredients
 
 

For the Pastry:

  • 200 g plain flour
  • 125 g unsalted butter fridge cold
  • 100 g creme fraiche
  • 1 small egg
  • a pinch of salt

For Creme Mousseline:

  • 250 ml milk
  • 110 g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp cornflour (6g)
  • 1 tsp plain flour (6g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 100 g unsalted butter softened

Extras:

  • 2 tbsp blackcurrant or cranberry jam

Instructions
 

  • Place the plain flour and a pinch of salt onto a large chopping board or granite kitchen surface (something you can cut on). Coarsely grate the fridge cold butter onto the flour. Keep dipping the butter into flour to help it not stick to the grater.
  • Using a long-bladed knife chop and slice the butter and flour mixture in various directions until you have a mixture resembling course breadcrumbs.
  • Lightly whisk a small egg in a bowl. Make a well in the middle of your buttery flour mixture. Add almost all of the egg and 100g of creme fraiche. Using a knife, chop and slice the mixture to incorporate the wet ingredients into the flour. You may need to add the remaining egg if your mixture is very dry.
  • Bring the mixture into a ball and knead just enough to bring it together. Then roll into a log. Cut the log into 8 rounds. Wrap them separately in cling film and place in the fridge for 2 hours.
  • In the meantime, make creme mousseline. In a small bowl, whisk the caster sugar, plain flour, cornflower, an egg and vanilla paste into a paste. Heat the milk until it just reaches boiling point. Keeping the milk on low heat, slowly add the egg and sugar mixture into the milk, whisking vigorously at all times to prevent the egg from scrambling.
  • Once incorporated, increase the heat to medium and stirring continuously, cook for another 5 minutes until the mixture has thickened and covers the back of the spoon. Take it off the heat and leave to cool completely.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. A tablespoon at a time, keep adding the cooled custard into the butter and keep beating until all the custard is incorporated. Set aside for later (but don't refrigerate at this point).
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C Fan. Once your pastry has chilled for at least 2 hours, roll each of the rounds into thin (1-2mm thick) sheets on a floured surface. Using a plate or another round object (we used a 7in plate) cut even rounds of the pastry and move the offcuts. Place the rounds on the baking parchment-lined trays put in the oven for 9-11 minutes until the pastry is crisp and just starting to brown. Bake the offcuts too (we'll use those to decorate the cake).
  • Once all the pastry rounds and offcuts are baked, leave them to cool completely.
  • To assemble the cake, place a pastry round smooth side down. Spread a generous tbsp or a bit more of creme mousseline on top of the pastry round going straigh to the edges. Place another round of pastry on top and press down lightly. Keep on layering, but on two of the layers, skip the creme mousseline and spread a tbsp of blackcurrant jam instead. I did that on my 2nd and 6th pastry sheets. Finish with a pastry round with the smooth side facing up.
  • Cover the top and the sides with the remaining creme mousseline. Using your hands crush the offcuts into crumbs. Press them onto the top and the sides of your Napoleon Cake. You can decorate the cake with chocolate or fruit, but traditionally Tort Napolyeon has very minimalist look.
  • Chill the cake in the fridge for at least 12 hours before serving!

Nutrition

Calories: 381kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 5gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 103mgSodium: 33mgPotassium: 108mgFiber: 1gSugar: 16gVitamin A: 832IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 58mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Lithuanian Napoleon Cake, Napoleon Cake, Napoleon Cake Recipe, Napoleon Torte, Napoleon Torte Recipe, Napoleon with Creme Mousseline, Russian Desserts, Russian Napoleon Cake, Russian Napoleon Torte, Tort Napolyeon
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Napoleon Cake

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