Years ago, I was living in the center of Istanbul with my friend. It was a rather old part of the city, with narrow streets and local shops, plus local bars and occasional drunks. Just around the corner of our street, there was a little patisserie / bakery, named Kaçkar (the name came from Kaçkar Mountains in the Black Sea region, since the owner was originally from that region). I kind of was addicted to that shop, only for its everyday freshly baked mille-feuille cake that was sold out immediately even before noon. I have never eaten a mille-feuille more delicious that than of Kaçkar’s, not even in its country of origin, in Paris.
Today, now that I can easily find puff dough, I thought of making this cake for the first time by myself. I checked a few recipes online and got the idea of the filling. I had to also learn some new words in Finnish to be able to find the ingredients in the market: wheat starch means vehnätärkkelys (tärkkelys is starch), powder sugar is tomusokeri. In the market though, I could not find wheat starch. Knowing that tärkkelys was starch, I found corn starch – maissitärkkelys and I immediately called my mother in Turkey: mom, can I use corn starch instead of wheat starch for something like a milk pudding?
3 sheets of puff dough (voitaikina levyjä)
Half a glass of milk
Half a glass of cold water
1/2 dl corn starch
1/2 dl sugar (not powder sugar, but normal one)
1 dl vanilla (half for pudding filling, half for the final top decoration)
1 dl powder sugar
Blueberry (purely for decoration, so this is optional)
1. Put the puff dough sheets on a baking sheet and cut each rectangle into 4 equal pieces. Dig 3-4 holes on each piece with the help of a toothpick (I didn’t have any toothpick at home so I did it with the sharp end of a screwdriver!). The puff dough gets, well, puffy and really big when baked but for this cake it should not get so big. Therefore it’s better to have these few holes to prevent extra puffing.
2. Preheat the oven to 180C. Put the dough sheets in the oven. Watch carefully and bake them well but take them before they get brownish. In my oven it took about 15 minutes. Leave the baked pieces aside to cool down.
3. In a pan, put milk and water first and stir a few times. Water has to be cold, this is important. Then slowly add corn starch while stirring with other hand to prevent the starch to get lumpy. When you see that there aren’t any lumps in the mixture, add 1/2 dl of sugar and 1/2 dl vanilla.
4. Put the pan on medium heat and constantly stir, rather slowly. You will see that at some point it will get really dense and thick, it might start getting a bit lumpy again so continue stirring, faster. When you get a creamy thickness, take it out of the heat and leave it to cool down about 5 minutes.
5. Normally, mille-feuille is a plain cake but I wanted to add some banana inside, so since my dough pieces were quite small I chopped the banana in small pieces. You can also do it with strawberry.
6. Take a spoonful of pudding and put it on the first piece of dough, spread it evenly on the piece. Put the second piece of dough on this and do the same on this second layer. If you want to add banana or strawberry or whatever, you can add in these layers, I only put on the second layer. Finally, put the third layer of dough piece on this. So, in the end, you should have 3 layers of dough and 2 layers of filling.
7. To put on the top of the cake, put 1 dl of powder sugar and 1/2 dl of vanilla in a little bowl and mix them well. With the help of a spoon, pour some of this mixture on the top of the cake pieces. Don’t try to be neat and clean, do it a little messy so that there is also some of that mixture in the sides of each piece as well. After all, this is definitely a messy cake!
8. If you want, you can decorate it with some banana and blueberry (I bought Pirkka’s pensasmustikka – highbush blueberry from K-market in Kamppi and it was a delicious decoration!).
I made 2 pieces of cake today, 1 for me, 1 for my roommate. We get along well with my roommate, though we don’t really spend time together, we don’t eat together for example. So when I knocked on her door to say that I baked a cake also for her, she came out of the room and we ate the cake together in our big kitchen, talking and laughing. It was nice! And a little final note: try to eat this cake when it is really freshly baked. If it stays too long, then it loses its rather crispy feeling and it doesn’t taste so good anymore..