French pastries are undeniably elegant and salivating though often off limit for unseasoned bakers. Finding one you can enjoy with little effort at home like this mille-feuille is therefore a real treat …and potentially dangerous for your waistline! While you might know it better under its other name of ‘Napoleon’, the mille-feuille (which translates into ‘thousand leaves’) is a fairly popular dessert consisting of 3 layers of puff pastry separated by layers of cream or jam.
You’ve probably had various renditions from the soft and super sweet store bought varieties to fancy specimen at restaurants but let me tell you that the homemade version is pretty terrific. Freshness is key to getting that perfect contrast between the crispy pastry layers and soft custard filling so you’ll want to eat it straight away which I don’t think anyone will have a problem with!
For the pastry, if you have a lot of time on your hands you can always do it yourself (there are tons of puff pastry recipes on the web) but honestly the store-bought variety will do just fine here and will make this dessert as easy as can be. A few simple steps of baking the pastry, preparing the vanilla cream, and mounting it all are incredibly easy and quite enjoyable so you definitely won’t feel as if you’re slaving in the kitchen. Once you’ve gotten your 3 rectangles of pastry layered with the thick custard, just dust the top with powdered sugar for a simple but sophisticated dessert. There’s no need for the familiar marbled icing here especially in the summer and you’ll appreciate even more each bites of buttery flakes mixed with cool custard…
Recipe from Elle a Table
Active time: 35 minutes
Total time: 1h15
Makes 4-6 servings
200g puff pastry dough
100g powdered sugar
1 cup whole milk
20g all purpose flour
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Generously dust the work surface with powdered sugar. Lay the dough on top and cover with more powdered sugar. Roll the dough into a thin rectangle (about ¼ inch).
Lay the dough over a sheet of wax or parchment paper in a baking sheet and cover with another sheet of paper. Put a grill over it to weight it down (I use a cooling rack grill) and put in a preheated oven at 350ºF for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, get the vanilla cream ready: whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until light in color, then add the flour and cornstarch (and any flavoring you’d like such as cacao, liquors, etc.). Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan and pour over the yolk and sugar mixture. Mix well. Pour back the mixture in the saucepan and heat over low heat for 8 minutes while stirring constantly.
Take the dough out of the oven and let it cool down. Cut the uneven sides with a serrated knife to make your rectangle ‘straight’ then cut the dough into 3 equal parts.
Cover two parts with the vanilla cream…
and build your mille-feuille by stacking up all 3 parts.
Generously dust with powdered sugar and eat immediately to keep the dough crusty.