Lithuanian Torte - also known as a Napoleon Torte

Originally posted on An American Housewife in 2013

Known as a Lithuanian Torte or sometimes a Napoleon Torte, it is layer upon layer of flaky, pastry, a vanilla custard tasting creamy filling and just a hint of apricot between some of the layers.  To make this, be sure you plan for enough time.  It is on average, at least 10-12 layers of pastry sandwiched between 10-12 more layers of filling with layer of filling and pastry crumbs on top.  Each of the layers is rolled, pricked, baked and cooled one at a time so allow time to make the dough, chill it, roll it, bake it, cool it and then time to make the filling and assemble. 

It's a little involved to make, with an average of 10 pastry layers to cut and bake, but in the end, it's a beautiful, amazing dessert that can serve a large group of up to about 16-20 people or you can keep it for your own family and freeze it - slicing off servings and returning it to the freezer.

Originally I had a similar dessert at a wedding rehearsal dinner that was from a very well known bakery in the United States.  However, they put a very thin layer of apricot jelly between the layers and I prefer a vanilla custard and flaky pastry without any hint of fruit.  (I cut that part out and leave it on the plate - as I do when having a layer cake that has a fruit glaze between the layers as well.  I just don't like 'sweet' desserts very much!)  I know most people love a hint of fruit in their desserts so I'm leaving the apricot jam listed in the ingredients.  If you are like me, you can leave it out.  

I took some liberties with the old way of making the dough and used a food processor.  I took a chance by doing this, but I decided my favorite pie crust recipe could be made in a food processor, so why not this?  And in the end, I'm glad I did.  You don't have to though.  You can make it the traditional way if you are more comfortable with it.  I also don't like fruit in my desserts so I don't care for the thin layer of apricot glaze between a few of the layers.  It's subtle, but I don't care for it so I always use my fork to cut and eat around those layers when I've had this, and I leave out the apricot completely in my homemade version. 

Napoleon Torte (or Lithuanian Torte)

1 c butter
4 c good quality white flour*
1 c sour cream
2 T cold water

2 c whipping cream
1 c sugar
3 egg yolks
6 oz. butter
1 t vanilla
Apricot jam (about 1/4 cup)

To make the dough, combine the flour, butter, sour cream and water on a butcher block board and chop with a meat cleaver, turning often until it becomes a dough consistency.  Chop, don't knead, as the dough will not be flaky if you knead it.  I chose to use my food processor, as chopping/mixing the dough can take up to an hour or more to finish.  I place the butter, flour and sour cream in the food processor with the S-blade and pulsed it to combine.  Slowly adding 1 tablespoon of cold water at a time through the top feeder tube and stopping the water as soon as the dough comes together to form a ball.

Divide the dough into 8-12 equal parts.  Wrap each in plastic wrap or waxed paper and chill overnight.  The next morning, roll each out to a circle the size of a standard pizza pan. I rolled on parchment paper so I could transfer easily to a baking sheet to bake.  Prick the dough all over before baking each rolled layer for approximately 10 minutes at 400.  Have a lot of counter space ready as you bake each one individually as you need to let them cool completely and they are delicate.  I chose to make 10 layers pastry.

To make mine all uniform, I used the bottom of a 9" springform pan round and laid it on top of the hot pastry directly out of the oven.  I quickly scored and cut around it with a sharp knife while it was hot. I saved the cuttings in a bowl to crush later for the final top layer instead of making an extra disk to bake and crumble.  If you can roll perfect circles in uniform shape, you won't need to do this.

Make the filling:  Beat the whipping cream and sugar together and cool in the refrigerator.  Mix the eggs yolks and butter together and add vanilla.  Fold into the cream to keep it light and fluffy.  Note:  I didn't have 2 cups of whipped cream so I used 1 cup cream and 1 cup half and half.  Obviously this doesn't whip up stiff so I ended up making my own filling version using a frosting-type mixture similar to what I make for Red Velvet Cake.  It's butter, sugar, vanilla and then mixing it with a cooked and cooled flour/water mixture.  I added this to the eggs and cream to stiffen it up and it was wonderful and light and delicious.  You can really use any vanilla filling you like best but the one listed is simple and perfect if you have the whipped cream on hand.

To assemble, I chose to use a large 10" round springform pan but that is just me because I'm not making this to serve right away for an event and will be freezing it.  Most people just assemble it to serve.  Start with one pastry, spread a thin layer of filling and top with another pastry.  Warm the apricot jam to melt smooth.  Every third or fourth layer of pastry you can brush it with a thin layer of apricot glaze.  Continue until all the pastry layers and fillings are used up.  Top with a last layer of filling/frosting and cover in the crumbs from a crushed pastry or if you have scraps from cutting circles.  Chill.  This can serve about 26-30 people if  you need it to as it's very tall and rich and a small piece goes a long way!

*Some people may use Wondra flour.  I used White Lily in these photos.

I chose to make my dough in a food processor instead of a traditional way

You decide how many layers you want it to be but make it at least 8 or 10 and up to about 15
I decided to build it in a spring form pan as I am storing ours in the freezer and not using it all right away
Mine is 10 layers pastry and 10 layers filling with a top layer of crushed pastry for a total of 22 layers

This can serve from 16-30 people depending on how you cut it. It's rich and pieces should be small!

You might be interested in: 

TecUnite Unbleached Parchment Paper Liners Sheets for Round Cake Pans 9 Inch Diameter, 100 Count

Leak proof Springform Pan
Nordic Ware Leak Proof Springform Pan, 10 Cup, Assorted Colors
Beyond Gourmet Unbleached Parchment Paper


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