Gourmet Made Deliciously Simple

Russian Cake “Napoleon”

Buttery, flaky pastry layers generously filled with sweet cream filling…This Russian cake “Napoleon” is the sweetest taste from my childhood.

Buttery, flaky pastry layers generously filled with sweet cream filling...This Russian cake "Napoleon" is the sweetest taste from my childhood.

I can’t imagine my childhood without this cake called “Napoleon”.

You see, my mom is a talented baker, and I think I got the love for baking from her. Among many sweet treats, she used to bake this particular cake quite often, for us, for friends, and for coworkers. It’s her signature cake, if you will, and we absolutely loved it. One bite of this cake sends me right back to my happy childhood!

I don’t bake this cake as often as I should though, but it’s definitely one of my top favorites. The cake consists of five flaky, buttery pastry layers with sweet buttercream filling. It’s rich, buttery and oh-so-delicious! Best paired with a cup of tea without sugar.

Buttery, flaky pastry layers generously filled with sweet cream filling...This Russian cake "Napoleon" is the sweetest taste from my childhood.

This recipe is right from my mom’s oldest recipe notebook. You know, the old and worn-kind, filled with lots of handwritten recipes, mostly Russian sweets and treats. Her recipes are short and not as detailed, much like the one your grandma would’ve passed down.

I shared this recipe back in 2013. Last month, my mom made this cake for me, when she was here to help me with my newborn. So I took the opportunity to re-shoot the photos and re-share the recipe with you again.

We’ll start with making buttery, flaky pastry layers. Just like making a pie crust, we’ll incorporate cold butter into the flour and mix it with egg mixture until nice dough forms. It’s ok to have a small pea-size butter pieces here and there. It’s actually desirable for ultra-flaky layers.

Resting the dough in the fridge helps us to easily roll it out into nice and thin circle. We’ll bake each layer separately in a hot oven for a few minutes. And once the pastry layers are baked and cooled, we will trim the edges to form perfect circle. Save those extra trimmings for later!

Napoleon cake- step by step photo

Ok, this sweet cream filling is what really makes this cake. It’s buttery, smooth and fluffy. Not your regular buttercream here. The technique is rather strange, but it yields the most delicious, silky smooth filling.

We’ll generously fill each layer with said filling and let it rest for at least 5 hours, or preferably overnight. That’s the thing, it requires major patience. But it’s essential to give the filling enough time to soak into the flaky pastry layers and soften them for that perfect bite.

Napoleon cake- step by step photo

Buttery, flaky pastry layers generously filled with sweet cream filling...This Russian cake "Napoleon" is the sweetest taste from my childhood.

Hope you enjoy this recipe!

Russian Cake "Napoleon"

Buttery, flaky pastry layers generously filled with sweet cream filling...This Russian cake "Napoleon" is the sweetest taste from my childhood.

Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients:

For pastry layers:
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ cup (180ml) water
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 18 tablespoons (250gr) unsalted butter, cold
  • 3 cups (375gr) all-purpose flour
For filling:
  • 1 cup (240ml) milk (whole or 2%)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups (300gr) sugar
  • 1 cup (225gr) unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. To make the pastry layers, mix together the egg, water, baking soda and salt.
  2. Blend cold butter cubes with flour. Add egg mixture and mix until well combined. Divide the dough into 5 equal pieces. Wrap each ball in a plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  4. Roll each dough ball into 10-inch circle on slightly floured surface. Transfer it onto a baking sheet and pierce it with a fork everywhere. Bake each layer for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.
  5. To make the filling, mix flour and milk and whisk until well combined. Bring it to boil on medium heat, stirring frequently. Once the milk mixture is thick, let it to cool completely.
  6. Beat softened butter and sugar until sugar is mostly melted. Add vanilla extract. Add cooled milk mixture and beat everything on high speed until well combined.
  7. To assemble the cake, once every layer is baked and cooled, trim each layer, using a 9-inch round plate. Save the leftover crust edges.
  8. Spread the filling between each layer and stack them up on top of each other. Then frost the entire cake with the remaining filling.
  9. Crush the saved crust edges into crumbs, using rolling pin or blender. Sprinkle the crust crumbs all over the cake.
For step-by-step photos and additional notes, read the post above.

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All photographs and content on Sweet & Savory by Shinee is copyright protected, unless otherwise noted. Please do not use any of my photos without my authorization. If you would like to share my recipe, you may re-write the recipe in your own words, or simply link back to this post for the full directions. Thank you for your cooperation!

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40 comments

  1. Quick question, I accidentally put the milk mixture in when it was still hot and it made the mixture very liquid like, what can I do to fix it?

    • Hi, Carina! Sorry to hear the trouble. I’d suggest to put it in the fridge to harden a bit, and then try whipping it again. Since the milk mixture was hot, it melted the butter and that’s why it god liquid. So I’m hoping cooling it in the fridge might save it. Hope it turns out. Let me know.

      • Sorry for the late reply, I let it sit in the fridge for a while but unfortunately it didn’t really turn out well, I had to remake the frosting but thank you for responding 

  2. This cake is so gorgeous! Thanks for linking up with What’s Cookin’ Wednesday!

  3. This dessert looks so elegant and delicious – totally sounds like my jam!  Thanks for sharing this, found you at Friday Favorites, pinning for later!

  4. This is gorgeous and pure! No-nonsense in this recipe- I love it and I will defintiely try it- sounds like I’ll need to do it while the kids are somewhere else though!

  5. This looks like a lot of work, but I think it would be fun to try. It looks amazing, and I love things that hearken back to my Russian heritage. Thanks!

  6. I have never heard of this cake but it looks and sounds divine.  I hope I don’t offend the tradition of this cake,  but I was wondering if it has ever been tried with adding a raspberry or other fruit purée to the cream or with an extra layer of a fruit purée, and what the fruit would to do the consistency of the cake.  

    • Hi, Melanie! Very interesting point. I change and alter a lot of recipes, but I never thought of adding anything to this one! I think it won’t be the same with fruit flavor in it though. Maybe I just have a hard time imagining it. 🙂

  7. Wow, this looks beautiful! 

  8. Wow, this looks amazing.  I’m going to have to work up the ambition to try this.

  9. My russian grandmother makes the best napoleon cake too, and she also makes an incredibly delicious white chocolate mikado which is pretty similar to this. I wish I had a slice right now, thanks for the nostalgia!

  10. ohhh so delish! so light! this Russian cake Napoleon is mouthwatering! I will have to try this soon! Thanks for the recipe!

  11. I love your cake! It looks very pretty and I’m sure it’s delicious, too 🙂

  12. Why doesn’t it surprise me, whenever I see a delicious recipe in the link-up, it is yours. This looks so beautiful and delicious.

  13. Wow, what an elegant dessert! Love all those stunning pastry layers 🙂 Delicious!

  14. Oh Gosh, I remeber I found the pretty same recipe of this cake on my fathers 20+ year old notebook 🙂 Definitely the best recipe of the best cake!

  15. The best recipe of Napoleon /Mille-feuille/ cake ever! 🙂 Chamaig tanidagdaa ch yum uu, recipe.nuud chin hamgiin down to earth, oir sanagdahiin kkkkk

  16. cream ni bolohgui bna shingen yun bolood bn yah ve

    • Hmm, yagaad shingen bolood bgaa yum boloo? Suu, guril 2oo butsalgaad nileen utguruulsen biz dee? Mun mikserdsen maslondaa hiiheesee umnu utgursun suugee sain hurguj bgaad hiisen biz dee? Haluunaar ni hiisen bol maslo chini hailaad shingersen yum bolov uu?

  17. Vvнийг хийж vзнээ.таны блог их гоё юм аа. баярлалаа.

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