Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mille-feuille, Napoleon pastry

This is one of my favorite desserts ( I have a lot of favorites BTW). it is called the Mille-feuille (French 'thousand leaves'), Napoleon or some other names ( vanilla slice,شیرینی‌ ناپلئونی). it is a pastry made of several layers of puff pastry, filling in between each layer with something sweet like pastry cream, whipped cream or even jam and glazed with sugar icing.
Some believe that it is originally from Naples with versions like puff pastry filled with spinach, cheese or pesto.
Although its origin  is not clear, Napoleon name is the French adjective for Italian city of Naples, and it doesn't have to do anything with the name of "Emperor Napoleon I" of France. I don't think he was into baking that much to have his own pastry ;)
So enough with the history, let's back to my love for this pastry. despite my love for it, I think the last time I baked was few years ago due to long and hard process of making the layers. I tired different versions of already made pastry that are available in the groceries fridge ( with name of puff pastry) but honestly they don't taste as good as homemade ones. 
There are different versions of pastry dough, I choose the quickest and easiest form. it has a soft and buttery texture and needs to get very thin with use of rolling pin (quite a good arm workout here!) and baked in the oven. since they are too thin they bake fast so it requires a good attention. it is a very long process but believe me when I pass out on the couch having coffee with Napoleon pastry, it's worth it ( or not and I am just  obsessed with dessert !!)
Now let's get to the baking part :

Ingredients for dough:
5 cup of all purpose flour
400 gr of unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 1/2 cup water
2 teaspoon of fine sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Mix everything well together to get a soft uniform dough and put it in the fridge for about 3 hours.

Ingredients for the cream:
2 eggs
1/2 cup of sugar
2 cup of milk
2 tablespoon of flour
1/2  teaspoon of vanilla
200 gr of whipped cream
In a bowl mix eggs, sugar and vanilla well till they get a light yellowish color. 

In a sauce pan put the flour, add the milk and put it on medium heat. mix well till they become slightly warm and flour and milk get mixed well. now add the egg and sugar mixture to the milk pan very slowly and mix at the same time.  
Mix till the cream become thick then turn off the heat and add whipped cream. mix till you got yourself a thick, uniform cream. now store the cream in fridge.

Direction for pastry:
When about 3 hour passed dough is ready. First thing first, heat the oven to 400F. take the dough out of the fridge and make them into small sphere in size of lime. when rolling the dough into thin pastries, they should be cold, so it is better to keep them in fridge and take them out one by one. 
Dust your workplace with flour, place the dough in center and dust it slightly with flour. roll it to a thin pastry, don't worry about the shape. just try to roll it as thin as possible.then poke some holes into it with fork to inhibit its rising.  

Place it on the baking pan and pop it into the oven. bake them till they get golden. it will take about few minutes depending on its thickness. but be careful they get burned very fast. continue till all the dough is baked into pastry. now it is time to do the final step.
Take a rectangular sheet (or tray) and place the pastries together in a way to fill all the surface. it is like doing a puzzle but it does not matter if the pastries overlap or something. 

Then cover the whole surface with cream ( you made earlier) and then add another layer of pastry. 

Do that till about 3-4 pastries left, so just top the last layer of pastry with cream ( or you could use only whipped cream), then take the last pieces of pastry and break them with your hands into small pieces and spread over the cream evenly. 

Almost done; sprinkle the pastries with icing sugar so they become white. 

Now take the tray and put it in the fridge. let it rest for few hours ( 2-3 hours) so the cream absorbs to the pastry.
In the meanwhile you could clean the mess you made ;) or if you are a very organized baker and do not mess the kitchen (unlike me) relax till the pastry become ready. 

When they are ready cut them into squares and enjoy them with your favorite hot beverage!

Till next time :)

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