Made famous by Pope John Paul II, the creamy custard cream in flaky puff pastry generously sprinkled with powdered sugar is a traditional Polish delight!
The cake has two names in Poland – kremowka & napoleonka, which are used interchangeably depending on the region.
However, Polish version of this ‘napoleon cake’ is slightly different than the French version. Basically, the French version of this cake has more layers of French pastry in between.
The name Napoleonka often suggests that originally the cake came from Napoleon Bonaparte and it has a French origin. But… this isn’t true.
The cake’s origin actually has to do with the Italian city of Napoli.
Why is it called Papal Cake?
Papal cream cake has grown to the rank of a legendary cake after the last visit of Pope John Paul II in his hometown of Wadowice. It took place on June 16, 1999. Recalling the years of his youth, the bishop of Rome uttered words that were forever remembered by Poles:
“And there was a pastry shop there. After graduation, we went to get those cream cakes.”
The original papal cream cakes were baked by the no longer existing pastry shop, which was located on the corners of Mickiewicza Street and the Market Square in Wadowice. It was run by a confectioner from Vienna, Karol Hagenhuber, who came to Poland in 1936.
Recipe Pointers For Polish Papal Cake Recipe
- The puff pastry needs to be ready before you start putting together the papal cream cake. Pre-bake the puff pastry if necessary.
- It’s quite popular to place a small cross on the kremowka before dusting the sugar. Once the sugar is dusted and the cross removed, you will have a nice cross design on the kremowka.
- You can skip the dusting sugar if you don’t want it too sweet.
- The kremowkas that Pope John Paul II loved were filled with a vanilla custard cream.
- You can add about 50 ml of almond liqueur to the cream mixture for more flavor.
FAQs about Kremkowa
Kremowka is pronounced kreh-muv-kah or kreh-moov-kah pa-pyess-kah.
The Papal Cream Cake is called the kremówka in some parts of Poland and napoleonka in other parts. It’s now popular as kremowka papieska.
The gâteau de mille-feuilles literally translating to cake of a thousand layers was supposedly made of multiple layers of puff pastry. The modern version however is made of 3 layers of puff pastry and 2 layers of pastry cream. The napoleonka or kremkowa on the other hand is made of 2 layers of puff pastry and 1 layer of custard cream or pastry cream.
No, the kremowka that the Pope ate was a traditional kremowka that was made without alcohol. This has been confirmed by Karol Hagenhuber, the son of the owner of the bakery in Wadowice where the Pope ate them when he was young.
The potato starch acts as a thickening agent for the cooked cream.
You can substitute the potato starch with corn starch or arrowroot.
Yes, cover the kremowka dish with cling film or foil and store in the refrigerator. Consume within 4 to 5 days.
- 1 sheet of puff pastry (unless making your own)
- 4 cups of milk
- 10 tablespoon of butter
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 cup of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup of flour
- 3 tablespoons of potato starch
- 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
- Boil about 3/4 of your milk together with butter and sugar.
- The rest (1/4) of your milk blend with eggs, flour and potato starch. Add it to boiling milk, mixing constantly to avoid lumps.
- Let the cooked cream cool down a bit, then place on top of the puff pastry (must be ready, so pre-bake before if needed - depends on the puff pastry used) and cover with another sheet.
- Put everything in the fridge for 3 hours. Cut into squares and cover with powdered sugar.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 151Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 51mgSodium: 71mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 0gSugar: 12gProtein: 3g