Fig and anise millefeuille

Fig and anise millefeuille

B.I.Y. Bake It Yourself

I always thought millefeuille was just too fiddly to bother with. I was wrong! It is actually quite straightforward to make. As long as you know a couple of the knacks, these individual millefeuilles will turn out very nicely indeed. They are often a good opportunity to muck about with flavours and see which combinations work. This recipe is the result of one of my own experiments and I reckon it’s a good’un. Remember, precision is the key for these, so keep your hands steady and get your tiny spirit levels out, because today you’re mainly building pastries!


Quantity Ingredient

For the pastry

Quantity Ingredient
2/3 quantity see method for ingredients, puff pastry component only
plain flour, to dust
1 large egg, lightly beaten
icing sugar, to dust

For the custard

Quantity Ingredient
170ml whole milk
3 star anise
2 egg yolks
35g caster sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornflour
100ml double cream

For the figs in syrup

Quantity Ingredient
4 baby figs
1 orange, zest finely grated, juiced
50g light brown muscovado sugar
1 cinnamon stick

Tool kit

Quantity Ingredient
rolling pin
tape measure, (optional, but I find it really useful)
hand or electric whisk
2 baking trays
wire cooling rack
piping bags


  1. Make the pastry, rolling it out to about 45 x 15 cm each time and chilling in the fridge.
  2. Now for the custard. Pour the milk into a saucepan with the star anise and set over a medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then take off the heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Put the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl and whisk with the caster sugar and cornflour, using a hand or electric whisk.
  3. Once the milk has infused, fish out the star anise and pour the milk into the egg mixture, whisking as you do so. Pour back into the saucepan and set over a low heat. Stir constantly, using a silicone spatula, until the custard thickens up, then quickly scrape into a clean bowl. Lay cling film on the surface of the custard (to stop a skin forming) and put in the fridge to cool.
  4. While the pastry is chilling in the fridge, you can poach the figs. Cut each fig into sixths, put in a saucepan with the orange zest and juice, sugar and cinnamon stick and set over a low heat. Once simmering, cook for 8–10 minutes, occasionally turning the figs. Fish the figs out of the saucepan and lay on a plate. Put in the fridge to cool.
  5. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Line a baking tray with baking parchment and take the pastry out of the fridge. Roll it out on a floured surface to a neat rectangle 30 x 25 cm and lay this on the baking tray. Lay another sheet of baking parchment on top of this and weigh it down with another baking tray to stop the pastry from puffing up too far. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
  6. Take the tray off the top of the pastry and return to the oven for another 10–12 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from the oven and take the pastry off the tray and off the baking parchment. Set on a wire rack to cool down.
  7. Returning to the custard, whip the cream with an electric whisk until it forms soft peaks. Take the now-cooled custard out of the fridge and fold in the whipped cream, a couple of tablespoons at a time. Load into a piping bag and snip the end to make an opening about 5 mm in diameter.
  8. Once the pastry is completely cooled, put it on a chopping board and carefully cut into 3 rectangles of 25 x 10 cm. Cut each of these into 10 pieces, each 10 x 2.5 cm, to give 30 neat fingers of puff pastry. Some of the outside ones may be a bit ragged, but those are generally the baker’s treats!
  9. Assemble each pastry: pipe 14 small blobs (two rows of 7) of custard on to the bottom layer of pastry. Lay the next layer on top and pipe on another 14 blobs of custard.
  10. Take the figs out of the fridge and cut each segment in half (giving you 48 segments). Lay segments of fig on top of the custard, all facing in the same direction. You might have a few fig pieces left over, depending on size.
  11. Lay a third layer of pastry on top and dust with a little icing sugar. Repeat to assemble all the pastries.


  • This recipe has a star bake (extra advanced) difficulty.


  • I’m not going to lie; I’m very taken with anise custard. I hope you will be, too. Infusing custards is something I’m becoming a little obsessive about these days and this recipe is a doozy. There are no rules: if you can strain it out of custard, you can use it to flavour that custard, so go mad. You can of course use ready-made extracts instead of infusions, but be careful of adding too much extra liquid as it can split a custard, which is always a shame.

    And you don’t have to use custard. You can always whip up some cream and sweeten and flavour that instead, if you prefer.

    I am a big fan of figs in loads of things and I think they go really well in this recipe. Poach them in whatever sounds interesting. I quite like adding a couple of tablespoons of Pernod to the mix for this one; just be careful not to overdo it or it can blast out the flavour of the figs.

    Finally, and I know this goes without saying, but don’t feel compelled to make your own puff unless you really want to. Ready-made all-butter puff pastry from a packet works well for these and will knock off a lot of time if you’re making them for a party. The most important thing is that you actually have a go at making them. They are delicious, delicate and look ace, so get to it!
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