Marsala Millefoglie

, from Issue #65. March, 2016
Photography by Sarah Tuck.
Marsala Millefoglie

Serves: 6–8


2 cups whole milk
½ cup caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
5 large egg yolks
1 egg
¼ cup sweet or medium marsala
¼ cup plain flour
1 tablespoon cornflour
30 grams butter, chopped
2 × 450 grams butter puff pastry sheets rolled to 2–3mm thick, measuring 32cm × 22cm (the pastry I used was ready-rolled and I cut it to size)
3 tablespoons icing sugar 

Marsala Poached Figs
⅓ cup marsala
12 dried figs, halved
3 tablespoons runny honey 


Heat 1½ cups of the milk, the sugar and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk to dissolve sugar and bring to a simmer. While the milk is warming, whisk together the remaining milk with the egg yolks, egg, marsala, flour and cornflour until the mixture is a thick smooth paste. Add a third of the milk to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the milk and egg mixture back into the remaining hot milk and continue whisking over the heat until the custard is really thick and smooth. You want it to be the consistency of a really thick cheese sauce. Remove from the heat, whisk in butter until melted and incorporated, pour into a container, cover the surface with plastic wrap and chill.

Preheat oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Lay half the puff pastry on top, prick all over with a fork (this is crucial) and top with more baking paper and another baking tray. Cook for 10 minutes, flip trays over and cook a further 10 minutes. Repeat with the remaining pastry.

Once the pastry has cooled, trim into rectangles – this is much easier than you might imagine. Trim the outside edges evenly with a serrated knife, then confirm (using a ruler) how many you can cut, use the ruler for each slice so that they are all the same size. When cooked, I cut the sheets of pastry into 18 even rectangles about 6cm x 9cm. Different pastry brands will have different amounts of shrinkage during cooking, but the dimensions don't really matter as long as they are all the same.

To construct, just pop the bottom layers onto serving plates. Spoon the crème pâttisière on top and smooth evenly, but don't squash and don't go right to the edges of the pastry. Top with another layer and repeat. Finish with a pastry layer. Dust with icing sugar and serve with Marsala Poached Figs (recipe below). 

Marsala Poached Figs

Heat the marsala and honey together in a small pot until simmering, add figs and cook for 15 minutes. Cool and store with the syrup.