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Our October 2012 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Suz of Serenely Full. Suz challenged us to not only tackle buttery and flaky puff pastry, but then take it step further and create a sinfully delicious Mille Feuille dessert with it!

So I was supposed to post this six days ago, but since I completed the challenge today, that would have been impossible sans TARDIS. Never mind, it’s done!

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I think the last time I had a napoleon was while in college in Baltimore. There’s this dessert place in Little Italy called Vaccaro’s. What I mainly remember about that place was always being so overwhelmed by the size of their desserts. One would have been plenty to share between a few people, so naturally some would compete to see who could finish something off on their own. And then there were randomly waffle sundaes…

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Surely I must have had a napoleon since then, but this was my first time making one. Actually, I’ve made the components before: one of the challenges a year ago was to make (yeasted) puff pastry for croissants, and I’ve made pastry cream several times. Seems like it should have been a fairly successful experience then, right? Not quite.

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The main issue I had with the dough was that I kept getting little holes in it while rolling it out. It seemed to work out in the end, I think! If you’ve never made puff pastry before, the recipe Suz provided seemed a little more user-friendly than the croissant recipe. You make a butter/flour paste which was easier to work with. No beating butter with a rolling pin!

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However, as you can see, the pastry cream was a bit of a problem. I decided to make pumpkin pastry cream (heck yeah!), but it seems that I didn’t let it thicken up enough while cooking. The good news is that it is super delicious, but man…what a mess! If I ever do make a napoleon again, I’m going to precut the pastry and then fill it rather than the other way around, even if the pastry cream is thick enough. Lesson learned!

I decided against making the icing because uncooked egg whites with lemon juice and powdered sugar sounded a little scary and not very tasty. Annnd my napoleon sure was messy enough without it. The swirls that the other bakers made looked very cool, though!

Poor side shot (not very photogenic, anyway), but you can see the layers:

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Thanks to Suz for hosting this challenge! Her write-up along with photos from the other Daring Bakers can be found here.

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