Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Napoleon cake (Russian-French recipe)

Every russian knows this cake from their childhood...most popular in Russia and absolutely delicious!

For pastry:
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream (regular or light)                                                 
2 sticks unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp white vinegar
all-purpose flour enough to make soft dough                                                 
For cream:                                                                                                  
1 1/2 quarts of whole milk
1 cup of milk (this is not a mistake)                                                 
1 1/2 cups white sugar
4 egg yolks
4 very full tbsp flour
Pinch of salt
1 shot of vodka, brandy, or rum
(Amaretto or Bailey's are also good)
1 lemon (zest only)                                                 
vanilla essence or vanilla powder to taste                                                 
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

Mix eggs, soft butter and sour cream together till they blend well.
Add salt.
In a table spoon, dissolve baking soda in vinegar - you will see "bubbles". When bubbling stops, add soda+vinegar to your mixture. Stir well.
Start adding flour, cup-by-cup, make soft smooth dough. Don't knead it too much, just enough to make it smooth and "un-sticky".
Split dough into 16 pieces, form little balls.
Cover the dough with plastic, and put in the fridge to chill.
While it's chilling, prepare cream.

Custard Cream:
Pour 1 1/2 quarts of milk into thick bottom pot and bring it to boil. Don't use aluminum pots - it will burn !
While the milk is warming up, prepare the cream mix:
Separate egg yolks and stir them very well with sugar and a pinch of salt - until mix turns very light yellow.
Add flour, mix well.
Add 1 cup cold milk, mix very well. Avoid lumps.
When your milk starts to boil, reduce the heat immediately to low.
Pour the cream mixture into boiling milk very slowly, using a whisk to stir the cream.
Bring the mixture to boil again, constantly stirring it. When it starts boiling, you will see it become thicker. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes, don't forget to stir at all times.
Remove from the stove, add lemon zest, vanilla, and vodka (rum, brandy, or liquor).
When you are able to touch the pot, add butter and mix it in as it melts. Set aside.

Now back to pastry:
Preheat oven to 420 degrees F.
Turn off the phone, so no one can distract you for 1 hour.
Get 1 piece of dough from the fridge, roll it into a very thin crust on well floured surface - as thin as you can, forming a round or a square crust.
Roll the crust onto rolling pin, and unroll it onto UNGREASED baking sheet.
.Pierce crust with the fork all over.
Bake in the oven for 2 minutes or until lightly golden. Don't over bake. It is better when it is not dark.
Remove the crust from the oven and put aside.
Repeat steps a-e for all the rest of the dough.
Never leave the kitchen while the crust is in the oven - check it all the time - it bakes very quickly.
Bake the last crust a little longer than others, letting it turn brown.
Put one crust on the cake dish.
Pour a ladle full of cream onto it.
Use skimmer to spread the cream evenly on the crust. Repeat for all crusts, except for the brown one.
Crush the brown crust on the board, using the rolling pin - just roll it over the crust several times - it will make great fine crumbs.
Pour the crumbs over the top layer of the cake.
Let the cake soak for 2-3 hours. Cut out the uneven edges, forming your favorite cake shape - square or round, or oval.
Enjoy! :-)

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