By Keighley's Mike Armstrong, an award-winning master baker with a big passion for baking. See

Millefeuille, mille what?

That’s a posh vanilla slice as we call it around our neck of the woods in Yorkshire!

This classic French pastry that consists of layers of razor-thin puff pastry and cream custard filling translated to English is pronounced “meel-foy” – meaning one thousand sheets, layers, or leaves. That’s airy, crispy, flaky – that’s half decadent in all the right places and makes a mess on the carpet!

The flavours of a millefeuille are simple but the textures are amazing, but when did the millefeuille start stealing the show? Well let me tell you. It appeared in Francois Pierre La Varenne’s cookbook in 1651 and if we’re being official about it, a gateau millefeuille is constructed of three layers of puff pastry held together with stabilised cream custard filling, decorated with icing and garnished with a chocolate spider web design on top.

I can think of so many desserts that are much more difficult than this pastry – having said that, have you ever had this dessert in a posh French restaurant made with homemade puff pastry? Arr, now that is a real treat.

I hate to say this, but this recipe does call for shop-bought pastry, it just makes things easier, but I have made homemade millefeuilles before – spending a day rolling and resting the pastry.

This dessert does look complicated, but the reality is it’s very simple to make.

There are four components to a millefeuille recipe: the puff pastry – the trick here is to dock it well and keep it flat while baking with another baking tray on top baked to a nice golden colour so that the pastry is crisp and cracks when cut with a fork; the pastry cream – for the millefeuille it must have a nice stiff consistency, that will hold its shape well because if the custard cream is too soft, it will spread and the layers will collapse. Today, most good recipes call for cornflour instead of gelatin; the whipped custard cream – this must be made using fresh cream to do it any justice, which also lightens it up; assembling – you can make the custard cream a day ahead along with the baked puff pastry strip, then when you’re ready add the custard cream to the layers and top it off with icing and dark chocolate marble effect lines.

Now if you do want to unleash your creativity this weekend and find it impossible to pronounce millefeuille use the alternative name Napoleon, which refers to the French emperor!

* METHOD AND INGREDIENTS (Cuts into 6 portions)

1. Preheat the oven to 180c/Gas Mark 6, then roll out a 500g block of puff pastry to a thickness 3mm, then cut out a 30 x 20cm rectangle and transfer to a parchment paper lined baking tray, prick all over and place in the freezer to cool for 5 minutes.

2. Top the chilled pastry with a further sheet of baking paper and place a second baking tray over the top of the pastry. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.

3. Once cooled, use a sharp knife to cut 3 neat strips, each 10 x 20cm, trimming all untidy edges.

4. To make the creme patisserie, empty 250ml milk into a saucepan and heat just before boiling point. Meanwhile, cream 3 egg yolks, 50g caster sugar, and 2 tablespoons of hot milk in a bowl. Add 20g of plain flour and 25g of cornflour into the mixture before slowly pouring in the remaining hot milk beating well with a whisk.

5. Return the mixture into the pan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in a vanilla pod or a little vanilla essence to taste, cover with cling film and leave to cool fully.

6. Once cooled, beat well until smooth, then fold in 150ml of whipped double cream to stiff peaks, then place in the fridge till needed. To make the icing, combine 125g of icing sugar with 2-3 tbsp water.

7. To assemble, pipe over half the creme pat over one rectangle then cover with the second rectangle of puff pastry and add the remaining creme pat.

8. Using a palette knife, coat the top of the remaining rectangle of the pastry with icing. Then melt 30g of dark chocolate in the microwave and pour into a parchment paper cone, cut the tip off and pipe thin, straight lines. Then run the tip of a sharp knife in the opposite directions to form a marble pattern.

9. Return to the fridge to set before cutting up into 6 servings.

10. If you find it hard to cut, pop your millefeuille in the freezer for an hour to slice more easily.