Napoleon Cake with Hazelnuts and Lemon Curd

I baked this Napoleon cake for Easter. An absolute wonder of flavors! This version differs from traditional one by a twist of lemon curd and hazelnuts. The punch of lemons and crunchy hazelnuts bring the flavors to another level in this tempting treat.

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Yields 18-20 cm cake

For pastry

  • 200 g butter
  • 1 egg
  • 320 g flour
  • 70 ml water
  • 2 tbsp cognac
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • pinch of salt

For custard

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 500 ml milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 100 g butter
  • few drops of almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150 g hazelnuts

For lemon curd

  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 30 g butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

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  1. Make custard. Combine egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and whisk them together, adding 50 milliliters of cold milk to make it easier. Add the flour and whisk again, forming very uniform, clump free batter. Add another 50 milliliters of milk to make it easier.
  2. Heat the remaining milk in a pot until boiling, all the while stirring to keep the bottom from scorching. Tamper the egg yolk mixture by slowly pouring the hot milk in whisking vigorously the entire time.
  3. Pour the mixture back into the pot and bring it to boil over medium heat, continuously stirring and keeping the bottom of the pot from scorching. Then continue cooking for 2 more minute, stirring constantly all the time.
  4. Add vanilla and hazelnut extract and stir. Add butter, allow to melt and stir to for a smooth custard.
  5. If your custard had clumps, run it through a fine sieve or pulse it with an immersion blender (handheld) until smooth. Allow the custard to cool by 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.
  6. Make lemon curd. Put the lemon zest and juice, the sugar, vanilla extract and the butter into a heatproof bowl. Sit the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl. Stir the mixture every now and again until all of the butter has melted.
  7. Lightly whisk the egg and stir them into the lemon mixture. Whisk until all of the ingredients are well combined. Then cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring every now and again, until the mixture is creamy and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  8. Remove the lemon curd from the heat and set aside to cool, stirring occasionally as it cools.napoleon cake5_wm
  9. Make pastry. Whisk together egg and salt, stir in cold water, cognac and lemon juice.
  10. Add flour to the cup of your food processor. Add cold, cubed butter and pulse or process until the crumbs are pea size.
  11. Add the egg mixture into the flour mixture and continue processing until the dough starts sticking to itself a bit, but is not formed yet. 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.
  12. Form a ball and knead it for a couple of seconds until a dough forms. Do not work with it too much, not to melt the butter with the warmth of your hands. Shape the dough into a log and then cut it into 10 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  13. On a back of a jelly roll or a baking sheet, roll out 1 dough ball until very thin, by dusting the surface with flour as needed. Prick with a fork all over, to prevent uneven rising. Bake in an oven at 220°C for about 5 minutes, until lightly golden.
  14. As soon as the cake layer baked and out of the oven, place a 18 or 20 cm plate or lid 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. Repeat with the rest of the dough, to make 10 layers.
  15. Crumble the cake scraps. Set aside.
  16. Assemble cake. Place a dab of custard on a serving platter.  Place first cake layer and press to adhere. Place several large spoons of custard and smooth it around, sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts. Repeat with the rest of the custard and cake, except third and seventh layers when you replace custard by lemon curd.
  17. Put some custard on the sides. Sprinkle couple tablespoons of shredded scraps on top of the cake. Then 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.
  18. Decorate cake with hazelnuts. Serve chilled.

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Inspired by Sezonine Virtuve


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