Mille-feuille (meel-foy) – a classic French pastry which means, literally, ‘thousand leaves’ – not that there’s really 1000 layers in puff pastry, though apparently it comes close. It’s taken me way too long to finally make millefeuille, and even longer to pronounce it correctly!
I distinctly remember first tasting one of these delightful pastries, with its crisp pastry layers and creme patissiere filling. I was lucky enough to be in the country that created it, and I recall thinking it was the most decadent thing I’d ever tasted. And, also the messiest!
Which brings me to the subject of eating mille-feuille. So diabolically difficult is it, that you can even Google ‘how to eat mille-feuille’! It seems that the simplest way to eat it (though messy) is to grab it in your hands and eat it like a sandwich. A slightly more genteel way is to use a very sharp serrated knife and cut it into bite sized pieces.
Or, if you’re like my mother, you attack it one layer at a time – dipping the pastry into the cream as you go. Going at it with a dessert fork is not likely to end well.
Thanks to Stylist.co.uk for their recipe. While they suggested using orange zest and orange liqueur, I went with a classic vanilla bean flavour instead. While, strictly speaking you should use proper puff pastry to make it as light and airy as possible, I simply used some home-made rough puff pastry I had in the freezer – it won’t give you quite the same light and airy result that puff pastry will, but it’s just as delicious. Bon appetit!
- 13.2 oz ready-made butter puff pastry (I used home-made rough puff pastry)
- Handful of sugar
- 8.4 fl oz full-fat milk
- 1 vanilla bean (split and seeds scraped)
- 3 egg yolks
- 1.7 oz caster sugar
- 1 tbsp of cornflour (corn starch)
- 3.3 fl oz double cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 7 oz raspberries
- 1 tsp of icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)
- Optional: Raspberry sauce, to serve
- Roll out pastry on a floured surface to a 30cm (12 inch) square. Put pastry on a baking sheet, brush off flour then sprinkle with sugar. Prick with a fork (this will stop it from puffing up and making it difficult to layer). Chill for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C (430°F). Bake pastry for 15 minutes, until golden.
- Heat milk with vanilla bean and seeds.
- While waiting for the milk to heat up, whisk yolks with caster sugar and cornflour until thick and pale.
- Whisk in hot milk then put back into the pan over a medium heat until custard comes to the boil. Let it boil for one further minute, then remove from heat and stir until smooth. Put in a bowl and place cling film over the custard. Chill in the fridge until cold.
- Whip cream until firm. When the custard is cold, mix together the custard and cream, along with the vanilla extract. Cover and chill until needed.
- Cut the pastry into 3 equal strips (10x30cm / 3.9 x 11.8 inches) and cut each strip across into 6 pieces. Layer 3 pieces with pastry, cream and raspberries. Repeat to make 6 mille-feuilles. Dust with icing sugar and serve with a jug of raspberry sauce, if using.