The famous French dessert, mille-feuille, is a pastry chef staple for any aspiring home bakers. Puff pastry is delicately layered and filled with indulgent cream, then it’s all topped off with a signature icing pattern. An elegant and showstopping finish to any dinner party or afternoon tea, here’s our best mille-feuille recipe.
How to make an authentic mille-feuille recipe from scratch
Preheat the oven to gas 6, 200°C, fan 180°C. Roll the puff pastry block to a thickness of 3mm. Cut a 30x20cm rectangle and transfer to a baking tray lined with parchment. Prick the rectangle and then place in the freezer for 3 minutes.
Remove the pastry from the freezer, top with another sheet of parchment, and then place a second baking tray on top. The weight will prevent the pastry expanding when baked. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Once cool, use a very sharp knife to cut into 3 strips, roughly 10 x 20 cm, slicing off any edges.
Make the crème pâtissière. Empty the milk into a saucepan over a medium heat and bring to just before the boiling point.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks with the caster sugar, adding 2 tbsp of the warm milk. Then add the plain flour and cornflour into the egg mix. Slowly add the remainder of the warm milk, continuously beating as you pour in (ask a second person to assist you if needed).
Return the egg and milk mixture to the pan and bring to the boil. Continue to stir. If the mixture becomes lumpy, keep stirring until it reaches a smooth and thick consistency.
Remove from the heat and add the vanilla pod (with seeds removed) then cover with cling film. Leave to cool. Once completely cooled, beat the mixture with an electric whisk until smooth.
Fold through the double cream and whip to stiff peaks. Decant the mixture into a piping bag and refrigerate until ready to use.
Combine the icing sugar with 3 tbsp water to create the frosting for decoration.
To assemble the mille-feuille, place a rectangle of the puff pastry in the centre of a flat surface or board. Pipe half of the crème pâtissière over the puff pastry from top to bottom, in 3-4 equal lines, using roughly half of the mixture. Cover with another rectangle of pastry and pipe the crème pâtissière over this layer.
Coat the remaining rectangle of pastry with the icing, using a palette knife. Melt the dark chocolate in a microwave (or in a bowl placed over a pan of hot water, make sure the bowl does not touch the water). Then pour into a parchment paper cone and cut the tip. Pipe thin straight lines of chocolate over the icing from top to bottom. Run a skewer in the opposite direction to the lines to create the traditional mille-feuille pattern, alternating the direction of the skewer. Gently layer the final rectangle on the top.
Place the finished mille-feuille in the fridge for min. 1 hour. Cut into 6 even slices when ready to serve.
Tips & tricks
It’s possible to make the mille-feuille dessert individually instead of in one big pastry cut to serve. You can also make the crème pâtissière around a day in advance and store in the fridge. Then you simply need to assemble the elements before hosting your afternoon tea or serving up a stunning dessert. For an easy mille-feuille recipe, you can also purchase a crème pâtissière mix.
How to serve a mille-feuille
Best served on a delicate cake plate with a knife and fork for ease of enjoyment. If chilled properly, it’s easier to cut into the dessert without completely toppling all of your hard work! The perfect finale to a traditional French feast, you can find further inspiration here for classic French cuisine to build your menu.
A mille-feuille will keep for two days in the fridge in an airtight container. As there’s moisture in the cream filling, the pastry will lose some of its crispness, so they’re best served fresh.
Variations of the recipe
Often confused with the Napoléon dessert, a mille-feuille recipe features vanilla pastry cream whereas a Napoléon is made with almond cream. Today, versions of the recipe include the addition of mille-feuille ingredients like raspberries or strawberries. If you’re looking to expand your french dessert repertoire, have a read of our top ten French dessert classics here.