I aimed high for my contribution to this year’s Christmas Eve dinner. Inspired (and, perhaps, carried away) by the complex dessert recipes in Recipes from a Slovenian Kitchen, I decided to attempt a dessert so legendary in Slovenia that is has been granted special “protected designation of origin status”… meaning, you can only get the official version of this pastry in the Lake Bled region of the country, and there is one particular location known for being the home of the original recipe. When an entire region of a country is known for one single food, I assume it must be something pretty special!
Legend is that the recipe for Bled Cream Slices (Blejska kremna rezina) was discovered by the son of a Slovenian baker while traveling in Germany and Austria. More than 8 million slices of this dessert have been served at the Park Hotel in Bled over the past 50 years! Wouldn’t it be great to bring it to our dinner table in Ohio?
Bled Cream Slices have essentially three components: puff pastry, a custard layer, and a cream layer. The finished product is supposed to look like a very pretty sandwich, dusted with powdered sugar. On the face of it, this recipe is not complicated, but somewhere in the setup of the custard layer, things went very wrong for me. And unfortunately, despite diligent taste-testing, I did not realize this until I’d already started to spread it on the pastry.
What can I say? My Bled Cream Cake bled all over the plate.
However, despite being a total mess, this dessert was absolutely delicious. The puff pastry doesn’t contribute much in the way of flavor (and, full disclosure, I did not make it from scratch but used the Pepperidge Farm brand in a box), but the cream and custard layers were wonderful — very light and airy with a slight hint of lemon. Honestly, to me this dish was a welcone departure from Slovenian food which is often on the heavier side, especially desserts which, though tasty, tend towards being dense and full of nuts. If the disastrous version above was still tasty, I can only imagine how good it is when done correctly! I am including the recipe below, and hope to someday have more luck with it. And if you beat me to it (or if you’ve already had success with this dish!), please tell me what worked for you!
Bled Cream Slices
( adapted from Recipes from a Slovenian Kitchen)
- 1 lb puff pastry
- 1-1/4 cups milk
- strip of lemon rind
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 egg white
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 Tablespoons powdered sugar
- Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and leave it, still wrapped, at room temp for 20 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle approximately 12 inches X 15 inches. Cut in half, into two rectangles, each 6 x 15 inches. Prick each piece of dough all over with a fork.
- Place the pastry on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Use a knife to score one rectangle into 10 squares, being careful not to cut all the way through the dough. Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes.
- While the dough is chilling, start making the pastry cream. Put the milk and lemon rind into a small heavy pan and slowly bring to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and 1 T sugar in a bowl until thick and pale. Sift the flour and stir into the egg yolks.
- Remove the lemon rind from the milk and which the hot milk into the egg and flour mixture. Pour back into the pan. Thicken the custard by stirring over a low heat. Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl*, and pour the custard into it. Cover with plastic wrap Leave until just cool, but not firmly set.
- Whisk the egg white until stiff and whisk in the remaining sugar. In a separate bowl, whip 2/3 cup of the heavy cream until thick. Gently fold the egg white mixture into the custard, followed by the whipped cream. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Follow the directions for baking your puff pastry.** Mine took less than 15 minutes, so watch carefully! You want it puffed and just golden. Set aside to cool.
- Pour 1-1/4 cups heavy cream into a chilled bowl. Ass the vanilla extract and 1 T powdered sugar. Whip until stuff peaks form.
- Place the unmarked rectangle of puff pastry on a board and spread with the pastry cream, then the whipped cream. Put the marked pastry sheet on top. Dust with powdered sugar.
*I added this step, to make sure there were no lumps in my custard.
**Following the original recipe’s directions cost me a whole sheet of puff pastry, because the indicated cooking time was way too long. Instead I just consulted the box for my pastry and had no trouble the second time around.
The original recipe also called for 1 T of run to be added to the custard, but I didn’t have any so I just omitted it.