My Attempt at Mille Feuille (Napoleon Cake)


A few weeks ago I was forwarded a recipe for a cake I had never seen before, Mille-Feuille , to be exact. What was unique about this is that it is not your traditional cake and let’s face it–I like things that are not quite traditional (at least in the kitchen). The first time I tried to make this, it was a disaster. Alhamdulilah! To recount some of my mistakes:

1. I rushed making all components of the cake. I actually tried to make puff pastry in a night and use it that same night. BIG mistake.

2. The custard was a disaster, it came out wayyyy too runny. It was an actual liquid and I kept trying to convince myself that the longer it stayed in the refrigerator that it would somehow become stiffer.

3. I attempted to bake when everyone was home and using the kitchen. My family has learned that I will only bake well when no one is home to watch me bake and when I have the kitchen to myself. Funny…I know.

However, even with the horrible outcome, I was not dismayed. I figured I would try again but I didn’t know when–that time came this past Monday. I spent the day with my grandma and after I came  home I decided I wanted to make the puff pastry, the hard way. So I used this awesome recipe from WORC (Puff Pastry) and while it was really difficult I have to say I was really happy with the outcome, at least for the first successful try to make puff pastry. The butter block ended up being kind of really soft and when I got to the step of folding it into the actual dough, it wasn’t pretty. I ended up with butter coming out of all ends of the dough (don’t ask me how) and so I eventually got it to mix in with the dough with plenty of flour. Yes, a bit unconventional and probably not all correct but I’m going to try again soon and see if I can fix it. Once I was done with that I let it freeze for a few days before I decided that today I would finish the project.

The custard isn’t as easy as it looks. It takes a lot of focus and exact measurement, to anyone that wants to bake this I highly suggest to use the metric system in measuring–because that’s how the recipe is written and I found I like that a lot more than using cups and tablespoons. My mind works better thinking in the metric system because I relate it to the chemistry lab (hahahaha, yes the nerd has emerged) and I start to put myself in the chemistry mindset. Because really, cooking is just like chemistry you have to know what reacts with what in order to have the product you are seeking. I always knew chemistry would actually come in handy one day!! Alhamdulilah. But alas! I digress…back to the custard… this time I got it! I was so diligent and I took my time making it–literally over an hour is what I spent on this and I didn’t do anything else while making it. And when I finally let it cool down and I added the last step of butter, it whipped so pretty. I think I giggled and clapped my hands I was that excited (crazy? maybe, but seriously when you can get that stuff to work after sitting there that long, you would be excited too). I finally put the cake together and decided that I would add some chocolate to the mix.

In a heatproof bowl, I put semi-sweet chocolate chips and 2 1/2 tablespoons of sweet cream butter and put the bowl in a pot of hot water on the stove to make a double boiler. I waited till the chocolate and butter melted enough to be smooth and removed it from the pot. If you want more of a creamy chocolate that you can spread as a frosting you can always add some milk and voila! milk chocolate frosting. Back to the point, I dropped little glops of this as a “design” on the outer parts of the cake and in the middle. Basically it was just for the flavor, chocolate is good. I bet if you actually whip that in with the custard it would make a great light, fluffy frosting too…oohh the possibilities.

I learned that it takes time for puff pastry to come out the way it’s supposed to it takes a lot of time. Custard is also something that takes time to manipulate. It also opened a lot of doors for me–baking wise. I’m starting to realize that the kitchen is just like my chemistry labs and that I really am going to cook better if I apply what I do on a regular basis in the lab. So for all you people out there that are hating chem. labs–I know they stink but if you pay attention it will all make sense one way or another!

It takes persistence to get things right, and honestly I haven’t gotten this down pat but I’m up for another try. I appreciate the person who sent this my way, I loved the challenge. JazakumAllahu Khairan it was a lot of fun and I learned a lot. I wouldn’t mind more things to be sent my way in the future. =)

School starts up soon and well..I’ll be spending a LOT of time in the lab, so maybe I’ll pick up a few tricks and share them with you all. But for now, BON APPETITE! (I just watched “Julie&Julia” amazing movie and I really want to buy Julia Child’s books and cook through them too…)

PS-Check out my awesome new rolling pin…It was the whole reason I decided to make puff pastry, too excited to NOT use it.


One thought on “My Attempt at Mille Feuille (Napoleon Cake)

  1. taiyyaba says:

    oh. my. god.

    so. awesome. and i bet it tasted superb too 🙂 now that you’ve got the puff pastry and the custard down, you can experiment with flavors. i sense a dulce de leche something delicious coming up!

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