Russian Napoleon cake

Russian napoleon cake-5

You know how after traveling for a while you really crave home? The ordinary things, like being able to sleep in your own bed and cook for yourself? By the end of our Eurotrip, I even missed bootcamp (so happy I love working out) and my business. With every city we left, I was sad to go yet ready to move on.

And now I miss those daily pastries, al fresco drinks in the middle of the day and long long walks. Guess what? I can still get away with doing all 3! Winking smile I really should sometime…

Russian napoleon cake

Last month I was asked for a Russian Napoleon cake recipe so I immediately emailed my mom and set up a date for us to make it. I’m good like that (also I really like cake). It’s actually originally a French dessert (Russian food has a lot of French influences) but the traditional Russian version seems to be a bit easier (although it has 4 layers vs 2) and has a bit of a different look. With using store-bought puff pastry dough, the whole thing comes together in a cinch and will be gobbled up even quicker! That’s a fact. Winking smile [See how the styled photos are only of a few tiny pieces? Yeah, that’s because that’s all that was left! Too good.]

Russian napoleon cake-2

So what’s a Russian Napoleon cake? It’s pretty much 4 layers of puff pastry layered with custard cream (creme patissiere). Bake the puff pastry according to instructions on the package, make the custard cream (eggs, milk, sugar, flour, butter) and then layer the two. Easy!

Russian napoleon cake-3

The last piece of puff pastry gets crumbled to create this fun topping:

Russian napoleon cake-4

Let the whole thing stand in the fridge overnight so the puff pastry softens a bit from the custard and the layers really meld together. The result is a cool, creamy, buttery dessert that’s unbelievably addictive!

Russian napoleon cake-7

I want a piece right now!!

Russian napoleon cake-6

Printable recipe

Russian napoleon cake-8

Do you ever miss home while on vacation? Ever had Napoleon cake? It’s gooooood; I hope you try it! Open-mouthed smile

41 comments to Russian Napoleon cake

  • That looks awesome. I’ve never had a Napoleon cake, but it definitely sounds like something I need to try. I also miss home when I’m on vacation, but right now all I can think about is how badly I want my vacation to hurry up and get here!

  • Wow – I’ve never heard of this cake before, but it looks and sounds incredible!

  • that looks amazing! i’d certainly love to try a piece :)

  • Hey Elina, this looks great!! And perfect timing for me too – my mom is here visiting and she LOVES Napoleon cake, so I will try and make this for her soon! I’m glad you posted about it!

    • elina

      Yay, hope you make it for her! Just make sure you do this the day before you want to eat it since it needs to be refrigerated overnight.

  • Aida O

    Love this cake, thanks for the recipe

  • Yum, I have all the ingredients on hand so must try this for tomorrow’s dessert. I am living in Russia and love trying out your recipes so thank you!

  • Rita

    Elina! Just want to tell you how much I appreciate your website!!! I came to US when I was 11 and don’t know much about cooking Russian food, and its difficult for me to translate recipes written in Russian into American measurements, so THANK GOD for you and your site!!! Looking forward to making my own Napoleon, def a favorite of mine growing up! Do you know of a different version of the cream? Butter based??

    • elina

      Thank you, Rita – you are so sweet! You are making me want to write a new post asap :) I hope you try this recipe – it really was super easy with pre-made dough and super delicious of course. This is the only recipe I know but I’d search around for a butter based one if that’s what you feel is closer to your childhood favorite. Let me know how it goes (over here or on the Russian Bites facebook page).

  • This is the first time I have heard and seen this cake, and I am in love with it. I cannot wait to make this!

  • Polyglot26

    Ah hah, so THIS is what that amazing dessert was that I had once in a cafeteria in Zima!! Somehow I missed finding out at the time (six years ago – yeah, that memorable), but I recognized it from the photo.
    I stumbled across your site in a search for a recipe for sirniki (trying that tonight, with fresh batch of tvorog). I believe the kugelis will be my next experiment – I can’t imagine that anything with that combo of ingredients won’t be a hit around here. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • elina

      Have you tried the sirniki yet? How did things go? :)

      • Polyglot26

        The sirniki were ridiculously easy, and delicious! I just started making my own tvorog this year, and am always looking for new ways to use it.
        The kugelis was as big a hit as I anticipated, but I think I may have overdone rinsing the starch out of the potatoes; a little bit of stickiness would have been an improvement. Next time! That made a swell side dish, but with some tweaking will also make a fine main dish.

  • Lisa

    Where is the recipe?

  • Hi Elina, thank you for the recipe. I’ll be definitely making it this weekend. Just a quick question, how much pastry approximately are you talking about. In Australia we can buy packets in various weights (like a 300g pack, or 500g pack), so when you say 2 packs, I’m not really sure what that will equate to in grams. Thank you! :)

  • Jessie B

    I stumbled upon this web page looking for beef Strognaf recipe. I am dating a Russian guy and am from East India myself. Me and kitchen are not friends at all and he cooks all the time. He wants me to learn Strognoff, borscht and Napoleon Cake. I guess its about time that i step in the kitchen …. Thank you for the recipe, I will be trying this tonight.


  • Lane

    Looks legit. This is one of my favorite, a perfect blend of tastes. Ever tried to make the dough by hand? That is the way my mom always did it. I think it would take her very long hours.

  • Oksana

    This is really not the real russian napoleon cake (although its easier to make and still tastes great). This is a more simplified version. Now when you make the REAL thing, you have to make the dough yourself and bake 20 very thin layers of it. My brother and his wife asked me to make them the real cake not the “fake” napoleon several times now, and it turns out huge, like 16″ round, and they would eat like more than half of it by themselves.

  • This looks like an “Ochen Horosho” recipe to try. My wife is from Russia, so I will have to ask her if can make the dough from scratch. If she makes it, I’ll post an update.

  • Yelena

    I did this Napoleon for New Years and it was amazing. People loved it and suprised that I did it all by myself and didn’t buy it from Russian store. It was 100 times better than purchasig from the store. Thank you for this recipe, will definitely do it again.

  • I am making this as a dessert in a family challenge. We are taking turns in cooking foreign food an they chose Russia for me this time! Will let you know how it goes down here in Cape Town, South Africa

  • Heather

    How do you make the custard cream?

  • Veta

    I am sorry, but Russian always make this tort with at least 12 level, ideal will be 16, and they must be very, very thin…

  • Congratulations! An amazing dessert! Thank you for sharing:)

  • Slava

    Sorry, this is not Napoleon, this is Mille Feuille. Also as mentioned before Russian Napoleon has many more layers

  • Sabrina

    Made this for my moms birthday and everyone in my big Russian family loved it! I got tons of compliments! Thank you so much for this amazing recipe!

  • Oleg

    Whatever this is, it is not Napoleon. Making a shabby 4-layer cake and trying to pass it as Napoleon would warrant an outright ridicule (and, sometimes, a beating) in my native Odessa. 15-20 layers from scratch, rolled thinly and baked individually to that magic golden color plus the egg-yolks, whole milk and freshly churned butter based cream – that is the authentic Napoleon, “Jewish grandma style”. Try to make it the right way and despite bloody calluses from the rolling pin and sore abs and glutes from squatting in front of the oven – you’ll get a piece of haven in your kitchen! M

  • Ty

    Hi! At the risk of sounding spammy, I’d love to exchange site links with you because I thought our writing was fairly related. It’s a travel site of sorts, focusing mostly on Asia. You can check out my Russian cuisine post for an idea of what we do.

    Hope to hear from you soon. Cheers 

  • hasan mudafar

    when i learn in russia i taste this type of torts, i left russia at 1978 year till now i havent taste napelion tort , with big pleasure i found the way to make it many many thanks to you and all russian people.

  • […] Easter Baking: Bird-Shaped Bread Rolls Make traditional Russian Napoleon cake here, here, or here From Russia, with love: getting to know the country’s traditional […]

  • Good! About russian meal also on my blog. Welcome!

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