Millefoglie (Italian Custard and Puff Pastry Cake)


Serves 10

For the diplomat cream:

  • 4egg yolks
  • 3tablespoons sugar
  • 3tablespoons flour
  • 1teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla pod, scraped)
  • 1lemon, zested
  • 2cups (500 ml) milk, warmed
  • 1 1/4cups (310 ml) chilled single cream, whipped to firm peaks
  1. Combine yolks, sugar, flour, vanilla, and lemon zest in a saucepan and mix together. Add warm milk, a little at a time, stirring constantly until smooth. Cook on a very low flame, stirring with wooden spoon until mixture almost reaches boiling point. Cook a further 3-4 minutes on lowest setting. If you find it getting lumpy, take off the heat and whisk quickly to remove the lumps. Take off heat, then pour into a wide, shallow dish to cool completely and quickly.
  2. Once cool, leave in fridge until chilled, then fold the whipped cream into the cooled custard. Keep in the fridge until ready to use (can be kept up to 3 days).
For assembly:

  • 3sheets butter (store bought) puff pastry, chilled
  • 1punnet fresh strawberries or other berries
  • 1handful fresh cherries or other fruit
  • Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
  1. Prick pastry all over the surface with a fork then bake on cookie trays in a hot oven at about 390° F/200º C until golden brown and puffed, about 10 –15 minutes. If they puff too much, they can be poked further during cooking to release the extra air and they can also be trimmed with a serrated knife to even and flatten out the sheet after cooking. Leave to cool completely.
  2. Set aside the “flattest” puff pastry sheet for the top. Place a layer of puff pastry on a serving plate or tray, then cover with half of the diplomat cream. Place another layer of pastry, then the rest of the diplomat cream. Place the final sheet of pastry on top of the cream, then layer with fruit. I like to slice the strawberries but leave other berries and cherries whole. If you’re not serving it immediately (or within half an hour), wrap in plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Take it out of the fridge 30 minutes before serving to take the chill off. Dust generously with confectioner’s sugar before serving. Cut portions carefully with a serrated knife.

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