Something I adore making! Always takes me back to the times I used to work in a cozy, hill-side café in Melbourne Australia. I was the only person doing pastry (and baking) as it was a small-scale operation and needless to say I let my creativity flow and there was a new flavor of mille-feuile almost every weekend.
Mille-Feuille a French phrase, directly translates to “thousand leaf/sheet”. As the name suggests, the decadent pastry has many layers of puff sheets that are made up of hundreds of layers themselves. Now if they reminded you of the vanilla slice or the custard slice, that’s probably because it is the origin of the mille feuille. A vanilla slice is usually a very thick slab of custard sandwiched between two thin puff sheets. A mille feuille is more decorative, could have multiple custard (or diplomat cream) layers and looks very sophisticated.
It is one of the simplest things you can make with a puff sheet, yet looks so elegant! Once you master the basics, feel free to give your own twists to this dessert!
About puff pastry
Follow this blog post to make your own puff pastry.
If you are using store bought frozen puff sheets, let the puff thaw in the fridge for 8-12 hours prior to starting this recipe. If you are making your own puff, it is best to start a day earlier so your pastry has plenty of time to rest before being formed in to turnovers.
The filling (custard vs pastry cream)
The custard used to make vanilla slice or this mille feuille is a thick custard. Feel free to use your favorite setting custard recipe, if you already have one. Even though we call it a custard in general, some recipes may include a bit of corn flour or plain flour as a thickening agent so it is technically a pastry cream. You can also flavor the custard (eg: chocolate, strawberry etc.)
You can also lighten up your pastry cream or custard by mixing it with some whipped cream. This is called ‘Diplomat cream‘ in pastry world and it is what I have used in this recipe. This is also my preferred filling as it holds the shape nicely when piped and sets in the fridge too.
If you don’t want to make custard or pastry cream, there are other stuff to use as a filling.
- whipped cream (flavored or just sweetened)
- mousse (chocolate/strawberry)
- hung yogurt (for a healthier version)
Make the custard the day (night) before or at least 8 hours prior to assembling. The custard (pastry cream) need to set to be able to pipe
Cook the custard, string constantly until the consistency is fairly thick. Check the picture. You should be able to see the bottom for a few seconds, when you drag the spatula.
The custard will continue to thicken as it cools.
Place the custard in a bowl and cover the top with a cling film to stop a skin forming. And then place in the fridge to chill. The custard should be set firmly before using.
You can whip the custard and use it as is. If making vanilla slice, use the custard without adding whipped cream.
If you are making Diplomat cream,
– Mix the custard back into a smooth texture
– Whip the cream and fold in the smooth custard
– Do not beat or mix just fold. Don’t loose all the air from the whipping cream
Diplomat cream is lighter in color, less sweet, fluffy and voluptuous than custard. Place this back in the fridge to chill and firm up until you bake the pastry
If you made your own puff, roll out to a rectangle (roughly 28cm by 20cm) Thickness no more than 2mm. Cover and place back in the fridge until the oven heats up!
Pre-heat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Place a rack in the center
If using store bought puff sheets, you might not want to roll out, but just make sure it’s not too thick.
When the oven is ready, pull the pastry out of the fridge.
Weigh down the pastry
Place the puff sheet on a tray, cover with a parchment and place another heavy tray on top. If tray is not heavy, place something heavy and heat proof on top of the second tray (like a cast iron skillet) This is to prevent the puff pastry from puffing up too much!
Now place this in the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the puff is slightly golden brown
After the 20 minutes, remove the top tray and parchment, dust with icing sugar and bake for a further 10 minutes until nice and golden. Sugar is optional but it will caramelize and give the top a nice deep golden color and a slight shine.
Once baked, remove the puff slab and let it cool.
Cut the puff sheet in to equal slabs. From this size, I could get exactly 14 peices/tiles.
We are almost done! Now all you have to do is build layers and decorate.
Pipe the filling or spread using a spatula on a tile and place another on top. If you wish add another layer or simply decorate and serve!
Can be stored in an air tight container in the fridge up to a day or two. The longer they sit the softer the puff becomes.
Best option is to store elements separately, and put together just before serving!
- One puff pastry sheet
- either store-bought frozen (thawed) or homemade puff
For the filling
- 300 ml milk
- 50 g sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 11/2 tbsp. plain flour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- powdered sugar (optional)
- Make the puff pastry a day earlier and let it chill in the fridge
- If using store bought frozen sheets, let a sheet thaw overnight (6-8 hours) in the fridge
To make the custard filling
- Measure/weigh milk into a “heavy bottom” saucepan/ pot. Weigh the sugar, save about 1 tbsp. and add the rest to the milk.
- Bring to a boil ( stir to make sure sugar has dissolved)
- While milk is boiling, measure egg and egg yolk, flour and the saves tablespoon of sugar into a heat-proof bowl and whisk into a thick smooth paste
- Once the milk boils, pour the hot milk mixture slowly but steadily in to the egg paste, while whisking continuously ( this is also called tempering)
- Take time doing this, if you add milk too quickly, the eggs will cook and curdle
- Make sure to keep whisking all the while
- Once done, pour the mixture back into the same pot and cook string on medium-low heat until the mixture thickens (takes about 5 minutes)
- When you feel the resistance you’ll know it has thickened. Check images above to see the consistency
- Transfer the cooked custard mixture into a container, cover the surface with a cling wrap/parchment and leave to cool (Refrigerate once cool)
- let the custard chill and set (overnight is better)
- Once the custard is set, you can make Diplomat cream.
- Whip the cream to stiff peaks.
- Mix custard back to a smooth texture and fold in the whipped cream without loosing too much air
- Cover and refrigerate until needed
To make the mille feuille
- If you made your own puff, bring the puff dough out onto a floured bench
- Roll out to a rectangle about 28cm by 20cm (thickness no more than 2mm)
- Place back in the fridge to chill while the oven preheats
- Preheat the oven to 400 °F (200 °C)
- Once the oven is ready, bring the pastry sheet out and place it on a tray lined with parchment
- Cover with another parchment and weigh down with another tray
- If the tray isn’t heavy, use two trays or place something heavy on the tray
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until pastry is slightly golden
- Remove the top tray and parchment, dust with icing sugar (optional) and bake for a further 10-15 minutes until nice and golden brown
- Once baked, leave on a wire rack to cool
- Handle with care as it will break easily
- Once cooled, cut in to tiles
- Assemble using the custard filling and decorate with berries
- You can do 2 or 3 layers, whichever way you like
- Can be stored in an air tight container in the fridge for about a day (highly recommend consuming fresh)
Assemble on the same day of serving or just before serving for the best results. If they sit for longer, the custard filling will soak into the puff pastry, making it softer.
It was great … I make it in Iran and your recipe is very, very good.
Wonderful! and thank you 🙂