Best “Napoleon” Cake Ever!

The cake comes out soft, moist and delicious! No more buying puff pastry for this cake, because you can now make it yourself at home.
I am excited beyond words to share with you this recipe, because it truly makes the best Napoleon Cake ever! This recipe was gotten from here, but originally my friend Inna shared it with me on Facebook, for which I am grateful, thank you Inna! The cake comes out soft, moist and delicious! No more buying puff pastry for this cake, because you can now make it yourself at home.

The cake comes out soft, moist and delicious! No more buying puff pastry for this cake, because you can now make it yourself at home.
I think the secret to delicious and moist Napoleon is mainly letting it sit in the fridge or at room temperature, until the cake layers have absorbed enough of the frosting to make them soft and moist. Having very thin cake layers helps the cake get there faster. I think not fully comprehending these two is the epitome of why all those other recipes that I have tried, did not work. I always allowed the cake to sit in the fridge for 24 hours, but that just wasn’t enough. This time around I let it sit covered, at room temperature for 18 hours and then another 9 hours in the fridge before I let the knife touch it (if you do decide to keep it at room temperature, do it at own risk, as the frosting has eggs in it and can be spoiled if your room is too hot). I think allowing it to sit for 48 hours might’ve been even better.

The cake comes out soft, moist and delicious! No more buying puff pastry for this cake, because you can now make it yourself at home.
If you look at my pictures closely, you will see that the frosting is not as smooth as it is supposed to be, and you’re right. For some reason, even though my custard and the butter were all room temperature before I combined them, the butter did not fully incorporate in the cream. Next time, instead of combining the two after the custard cooled down, I will just add the butter while the cream is hot. Fortunately it had no affect on the taste and that is why I decided to go ahead and still post the recipe with pictures of my imperfect frosting.
The YouTube video from the website had the ‘embed’ feature, so I included it in my post for you to see right here.

In addition to that, I made some changes to the amount of sugar included in the cream. After I allowed the cream to cool, I tried it and to my taste it was just not sweet enough. I knew that the whole cake would be even less sweet after the custard gets combined with completely unsweet cake layers, so I took the liberty and added full 1.5 cups powdered sugar to the recipe.


5 from 1 reviews
Best ‘Napoleon’ Cake Ever!
Serves: 12-18 servings
Quick Puff Pastry
  • 400 g. butter, cold
  • 2 eggs
  • 150 ml water, cold
  • 6 cups all purpose flour (650 g)
  • 3 tbsp vodka/cognac
  • 1 tbsp vinegar (9%)
  • Pinch of Salt
Egg Yolk Custard
  • 7 egg yolks
  • 6 cups milk
  • 1½ - 2¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 150-200 g butter
Make Puff Pastry
  1. Mix cold water, 1 tablespoon vinegar & 3 tablespoons vodka in a cup.
  2. In a separate cup whisk together eggs and salt. Combine mixtures of two cups and stir to combine.
  3. Add flour to the cup of your food processor. Add cold, cubed butter and pulse or process until the crumbs are pea size.
  4. Add the egg mixture and continue processing until the dough starts sticking to itself a bit, but is not formed yet.
  5. Pour the content of the food processor bowl onto work surface and start gathering and sticking the dough together with your hands, trying to work it as little as possible. Form a ball and kneed it for a couple of seconds until a dough forms.
  6. Shape the dough into a log and then cut it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, place on a plate, cover with plastic and refrigerate for about an hour.
Work on the frosting
  1. Combine egg yolks & sugar in a bowl and whisk them together, adding 50 milliliters of milk to make it easier.
  2. Add the flour and whisk again, forming very uniform, clump free batter. Add another 50 milliliters of milk to make it easier.
  3. Heat the remaining milk in a pot until boiling, all the while stirring to keep the bottom from scorching.
  4. Transfer the the egg & flour mixture into a larger pot (about 3 quarts).
  5. Tamper the egg yolk mixture by slowly pouring the hot milk in, all the while mixing.
  6. Pour the mixture back into the pot and bring it to boil, continuously (!!) stirring and keeping the bottom of the pot from scorching. Once boiling, cook for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Add butter, allow to melt and stir to for a smooth custard.
  8. Allow the custard to cool by pouring it into a jelly roll baking sheet and covering it with plastic wrap (plastic wrap should touch the custard, to keep the skin from forming). Do not refrigerate, just bring to room temperature.
Bake the cake layers
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Set the rack in the middle.
  2. On a back of a jelly roll baking sheet, roll out 1 dough ball, until about 11-12 inches in size, by dusting the surface with flour as needed.
  3. Bake for 5-7 minutes, until lightly golden.
  4. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
  5. Once the cake layers have cooled, place a 10 inch plate on top of each cake layer and cut around, collecting the scraps into a separate bowl and being careful to keep the cake layers from cracking.
  6. Crumble the cake scraps.
  1. Place a dab of frosting on a serving platter.
  2. Place first cake layer and press to adhere.
  3. Surround the cake layer by a cake ring. The rest of the cake will be built inside the ring.
  4. Place about 4 large spoons of frosting and smooth it around. Repeat with the rest of the frosting and cake.
  5. Cover the cake and keep at room temperature for 12 hours+12 hours in the fridge; or in the fridge for at least 48 hours before continuing.
  6. Run a knife between the cake and the ring. Remove the ring.
  7. Take some crumbled scraps into the palm of your hand and press them against the sides of the cake, all around. Sprinkle the rest of the cake crumbs on top of the cake. The cake scraps are not only for decoration, but also to keep a skin from forming on the custard.
  8. Serve chilled.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 549


The cake comes out soft, moist and delicious! No more buying puff pastry for this cake, because you can now make it yourself at home.


P.S. wonder if you can figure out how I made this cake look suspended in the air :) No Photoshop was used in achieving the look :)


Bon Appetite!

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  1. snezhana says

    Thank you for the great recipe. I made Napoleon for my husband’s birthday. It came out great. I bought dough from the store, so much easier and faster.

  2. says

    I have never made it without, but I guess you can replace it with iced water. The vodka gives for a better texture, and does not add any flavor :)

    • Oxana Amenyah says

      My husband would never forgive me if I use his vodka, still it’s worth a try. I’ll be happy if my cake would look at least 50% like yours. :)

      • says

        I’m sure he’ll live without 1 tablespoon))) if anything just don’t tell him lol
        This cake is so easy to decorate that I’m sure it will look just as good as mine if not better!

  3. Aleksandra Markovich says


    So I’m using your quick pastry recipe and there is no salt measurement. Ahhh! I’m going to use a tablespoon.

  4. Amaliya says

    Must we hold it in the fridge for so long? Would it ruin the cake to hold it in the fridge for a less amount of time?

    • says

      It would not ruin it if you hold it for less, but the more it’s in the fridge the more the cake is able to absorb the cream and become softer, this means that you don’t have to peel layers off to eat the cake.

  5. Sasha says

    Как у вас 6 чашек муки равны 650 гр. Я умею печь Наполеон, но всегда смотрю другие рецепты, может кто-то лучше, но у вас много не правильно, а это очень плохо для новичков, они не понимают ц хто читают.Чашка муки в креме очень много.

    • says

      Здраствуйте Саша,
      Я очень рада что вы умеете печь Наполеон.
      Рецепты которые я выставляю я лично сама испробовала, этот не исключение. Только потому что этот рецепт не сходиться с вашими представлением и том что правильно а что нет не значит что в нем ошибки. Во-первых этот рецепт придумала не я, а всего навсего перевела из русского на английский (ссылка на оригинал есть в самом посте, плюс видео которое вы можете посмотреть выше и есть заснято девушкой которая поделилась рецептом), во вторых вес чашки с мукой зависит от того просеяна мука или нет, и в итоге может варьировать от 95 грам до 125 грам. Мука измерялась мерной чашкой, а не для чая. Этот елемент на английском понятен и объяснять не надо, а в России не совсем, потому иногда уточняют. В принципе для того и написали в оригинальном рецепте вес муки, что бы небыло недопониманий.
      На счет крема вообще не понимаю в чем вопрос, крем с данным количеством муки получился очень хорошим как и видно в видео.
      Так что ошибок в рецепте нет, но по видимому этот рецепт вам не подходит. А жаль, торт получается очень вкусный:) хотя если есть желание, можете поделиться своим рецептом, кто его знает может ваш даже лучше!

  6. Yana says

    I made this cake twice, as it is my parents favorite dessert. The first time I made the dough myself (as directed above), the second time I made it with store bought puff pastry. Honestly, and this is probably a sin to say, but I think I liked the store bought pastry version better. Reason being is that it turned out to be very moist. It did save time, but the rolling of each layer was still a pain in the butt (what can I say, I am a lazy cook!).

    • says

      Honesty is not a sin)) I should probably try the storebought pastry myself with this cream) I tried storebought before but with a different cream and it was never soft enough to eat with a spoon, usually you had to eat it in layers, peeling them one by one. So are you saying that using the storebought pastry it was soft that you were able to eat it with a spoon or you had to peal it?

  7. Rick Kurtzuba says

    Looks similar to the famous Napoleonas Torte made exclusively by The Lithuanian Bakery in Omaha. Another kind? Don’t be ridiculous….there IS NO other kind.

    • says

      Rick, the Lithuanian Cake from Omaha has an apricot filling. Though very delicious, it is a bit different then the one I grew up on, which was made by a woman who lived 2 blocks away from the Lithuanian Bakery. I don’t think the bakery existed back in the 50’s and early 60’s, though I don’t know where we bought our sourdough rye from.
      Marina, I am thinking of making this the next time with a pasta maker and rolling the dough through the lasagna setting, then making the cake rectangular. This will be much easier and more efficient to feed the 60+ relatives that are in my family.

      • larisa says

        Debora can you please let me know how you went making the rectangular version. I also want to make a large one for a large family Occassion

      • says

        Ha! What a coincidence that someone even know the Lithuanian Bakery from Omaha and was able to respond to that comment! Can’t believe I didn’t see you comment until now.
        I bet by now you have tried using the pasta maker and have figured that this dough really can be rolled using the pasta maker and square is just fine for this cake.
        Thanks for your comment!

  8. Angela says

    Re napolean cake love it can’t wait to make it but confused how many cake layers r there u had 12 balls of dough 10 inch each did u use all 12 in the cake ring help need to make this this week for husbands b day thnx pls email me ASAP u can have been dying to do a cake n not squares

    • says

      “just like I remember in Ukraine” was what I was looking for myself, so I was happy to find it too :) and thanks for your feedback! Much appreciate you taking the time :)

  9. Aurelia says

    I have been doing it both ways, with self made and bought layers of puffy pastry. I think I like the old school version better, but store bought layers also can serve well enough. I think it mostly depends on amount of cream vs the amount of pastry.

    • says

      Hi Aurelia!
      I agree about the ration of cram to puff pastry being the key to success, the more cream the more moist the cake is, that is if you let it it sit long enough to absorb it))

  10. luda says

    Thank you Mafina!!! Great translation! I was very happy when I found your receipt for custard cream! I made some just right now and it was verry good! Give us more recipes.

    • says

      Thanks Luda! I’m so glad it worked for ya!
      look out for a cake I am going to post in a couple days, it’s a chocolate cake with custard :) It will even have a video as to how you can decorate the cake :)
      Stay tuned!

  11. Robert Noeth says

    Hi Marina!
    Thanks for this awesome recipe! I’m going to make it for Easter dessert this week. I have a question. You say in your article that you added 1.5 cups of powdered sugar because the original recipe was not sweet enough. The recipe above calls for 1.5 to 2.25 cups of sugar…does this include your extra 1.5 cups of powdered sugar?
    Thanks again Marina!
    Best regards,

    • says

      Hi Robert!
      You’re going to love this cake, just make sure to let it sit for at least 2 days in the fridge for the best flavor and texture.
      In the original recipe that I translated it from, it said to add 1.5 cups of granulated sugar. I added 1.5 cups powdered sugar in addition to that 1.5 cups granulated sugar. Because powdered sugar weighs less in weight, I said that you can add from 1.5 (what it calls for in the original recipe), to 2 1/4 (what I added). I say, add 1.5 cups sugar and then taste it. You want it to be a little too sweet, because as I said, the cake layers have no sugar at all.
      Hope this helps :) Let me know what you think when you make it :)

  12. Crystal says

    Hi there!
    This recipe looks fantastic and I can’t wait to make it!
    I was wondering if I make this Sunday, would it last until Wednesday? I have an event Wednesday and the only chance I have to make this would be Sunday. Would this last that long in the fridge or would it get soggy? Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Crystal,
      If you want it to be crispy, you should assemble it no more than 3 hours before you plan to serve it. But this cake in particular is simply amazing both ways, crispy, and when it is completely saturated with the cream. The amercian pastry shop Napoleons are always served crispy, so if you’ve never had a soft Napoleon I recommend you try it. So you can make it on Sunday and serve it on Wednesday – it will be very soft and delicious, although not crispy.

  13. Aaron says

    Thank-you very much for the recipe! It reminds me of a Sicilian dessert my Nonna use to make us as children. One question. The custard ingredients mention vanilla but no where in the instructions does it say where and when to add it! I made some assumptions but thought I’d ask anyways in case there was specific instructions for it.

  14. Jeanne says

    hi, i dont have any vodka or cognac at home.. will rum work? or should i just leave it out? Thanks for the recipe! 😀

    • says

      You know, I am not even sure… I think it’s the alcohol that is needed for this recipe, so I would probably use rum instead… Let me know what you used and how it worked :)

    • Jane says

      I like how one assumes that only one’s version of Napoleon is a real Napoleon! I have been baking Napoleon for the last 45 years back in Odessa and here in USA, like my mother before me. Never saw chocolate glaze drizzled on it. This recipe very similar to mine; I use half butter, half sour cream, backing soda and lemon juice and lemon zest for layers. Basic “zavarnoy krem”.

  15. Julie says

    Marina, how much cream do i put on each sheet ? Every time i made Napoleon it came out dry. Even being in the fridge for 2 days ! I even tried sinking the sheets with cream last time. Still no luck :(

    • says

      Hmm… I am not sure what’s going on. Are you following the recipe and make your own puff pastry or do you use store bought? if you’re following the recipe but it still is too dry for your taste, try increasing the custard amount by 1/3 or 1/2. That might make it more moist for you. Also, what do you mean “sinking the sheets with cream”?

  16. Bonnie says

    It was my first time making Napoleon cake and glad I decided on this recipe, it turned out great. I would increase the custard next time though as didn’t have much left on the last couple of layers.

  17. AlIna says

    Thank you, Marina for the amazing recipe! It was my first attempt at Napoleon and it turned out just like my mama used to make ;). Your video instructions were a life saver! 😉 Made my boyfriend very happy man on his birthday!

  18. says

    Love this recipe! My Russian friend once brought me a slice of this cake and oh my I was in cake heaven! It is so decadent and delicious!
    I work for a foodtech company called Chicory and would love to invite you to become a recipe partner with us. Are you interested?

  19. says

    How amazing! is this cake? Love this recipe but it seems like so much work! I always look for authentic Napoleon cake when I’m in Russin part of New York City but they seem to always make it with Margarine (and ruin it)!
    I’ve tried making it with puff pastry but you need quite a bit of it – which becomes expensive.
    I may actually give this go since it’s my mom’s birthday (and she loves it)

    Happy Medley

    • says

      Hi Anna!
      Any made puff pastry is usually made with Margarine and therefor sometimes leaves a film residue on the roof of the mouth when you eat the napoleon, yes I know… very delicious (Not!) lol. But this quick version of the puff pastry isn’t as hard to make as it looks and butter makes everything better, including this Napoleon cake))

  20. Alla says

    Hi Marina,
    This cake looks amazing and apparently my Mothers favorite, so I am going to attempt to make this tomorrow but wondering what type of butter is best. Sweetened or unsweetened. Awaiting your reply. Thanks, Alla

    • says

      Hi Alla,
      I am assuming you’re asking if the butter should be salted or unsalted, and not sweetened or unsweetened? Whenever the recipe calls for anything but unsalted butter it usually specifies so. For this recipe you want to use unsalted butter.

  21. Julia says

    Hi Marina. For the buttercream, I found, that if you whip butter really well before adding custard, at least 5 minutes, it doesn’t separate. Also you can save separated buttercream by whipping it in stand mixer on the highest speed for 5 to 10 minutes (and may be add some more butter).

  22. Ian says

    Hi I wanted to make this for my friends birthday party on Monday, i’m planing to bake it on Saturday ,I had a couple of questions ,i did read through the reviews and wasn’t clear on a few things
    1)would the refrigeration time be enough? Saturday night Sunday and Monday during the day?
    2)1 tbsp of vinegar(9%) i saw that you said that you double the regular vinegar ,i havent seent 9% vinegar so should i be using 2 tbsp of regular distilled vinegar?
    3) for the 11/2-21/4 cups of sugar called for in the recipe, i saw a comment where you said you used 1.5 granulated sugar and you added 1.5 powdered sugar then went on to say that you use 21/4 what im confused about is should i be using 1.5 regular sugar and then add1.5 powdered sugar a total of 3 cups? or how much granulated sugar and how much powdered sugar i should yous for best result?
    4)instead of using a crumb top can i use a icing topping like a traditional mille-feuille or wid it be to sweet?

    • says

      Hi Ian,
      thank you for your questions. I will respond to them in the same order as you wrote the questions.
      1. Yes, that should be plenty of time. You can leave the cake at room temperature overnight, and then place int he refrigerator until ready to serve.
      2. yes, use 2 tablespoons of vinegar instead of 1- 9%.
      3. So, the original recipe called for 1.5 cups granulated sugar. For me this was not sweet enough so I added 1.5 cups of powdered sugar. Powdered sugar is lighter than granulated sugar, so if you’re replacing the powdered sugar with the granulated sugar, you would add 3/4 cups sugar instead of 1.5 cups powdered sugar. so if you wanted to follow the way I did it, you can just put 2 1/4 sugar and that’s it.
      4. The icing is usually added to french style napoleons. That’s when the layers are thick and crunchy. This way the top layer would be perfectly flat and smooth (since the cake layer is hard). With the Russian style napoleon, the layers get soaked with the cream, and therefor are very soft. If you were to put the icing on the top layer, it will not be perfectly smooth and therefor compromise the traditional neat design of the icing. You can try it, but it probably will not be as perfect as you hope.

Tell me what you think!