Gâteau Napoléon – a dessert fit for an emperor!
Bastille Day or la Fête Nationale as it is better known in France is our favourite holiday and celebrates a key turning point of the French Revolution.
Country-wide celebrations on this public holiday include firework displays and military parades and most people enjoy spending time with their families and loved ones. Food, as always, takes centre stage.
In celebration of the day and the subsequent rule of Napoleon as Emperor of France, I’d like to share my recipe for Gâteau Napoléon – a type of mille-feuille that is popular for festive meals and is a rich confection of multi layered cake and cream that melts in the mouth. It also remains a firm favourite in Russia after the victory against the French army of Napoleon in 1812 and has become an integral part of that country’s national culinary heritage.
For the dough
125 ml cold water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
250 g cold butter
300 g flour
For the filling
200 g butter at room temp
1 can (397 g) sweetened condensed milk
200 g nuts
Mix the egg and cold water using a small whisk. Add the lemon juice and set aside.
Place the butter in a bowl. Gradually add the sifted flour and, using a knife, mix everything until a coarse sand texture. Stir the egg mixture and mix to a smooth dough.
Form a large roll of dough and cut it into 9 equal parts. Shape into balls, place on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 180 or gas mark 6.
Roll out a dough ball into a circle of 22cm of diameter -approx. – and bake on a non-stick plate for 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat the operation for another 8 balls.
After taking the dough out of the oven, while the discs are still warm, even out the edges to make circles of approx. 20cm, by passing the blade of a knife along a baking circle or mold. Reserve the dough scraps.
Cream the butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add sweetened condensed milk and continue to beat until smooth. Put a dough circle on a serving dish, cover lightly with cream and sprinkle with the crushed walnuts. Cover with another dough circle. Repeat until all the dough circles have been used. Cover the last circle of dough with cream but no nuts. Ensure that the dough scraps are well crumbled. Sprinkle the cake with the crumbs to completely cover the top and sides.
Refrigerate for 8 hours before serving.