Hello, my friends! I’ve been working on this Neapolitan Cake recipe for the last couple of weeks and am excited to finally share it with y’all today!
When I had my wisdom teeth out about a month or so ago, I ate a ton of Neapolitan ice cream. It’s one of those flavors that I don’t ever really think about, but once I had it, it was like… why don’t I have this more often?! It made me realize the only Neapolitan-related recipe I’ve got here on the blog is this no-bake Neapolitan cheesecake from forever ago. One recipe, that’s it!?
So I’m remedying that with this Neapolitan layer cake! Because there are a few different recipes involves, my goal was for this to be an easy Neapolitan cake. So while it looks like a lot in the recipe card, (a recipe for each cake layer and each type of frosting, plus a strawberry reduction) they’re all super simple and come together quickly.
Making the Cake Layers
For the cakes, you can follow one method for all of them. In a bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and mix until they’re all incorporated. Pour into the cake pan and bake! Like I said, super simple. You can mix one up, put it in the oven, and mix up the next one while it’s baking, or you can mix each of the batters up and bake them all at once.
I also want to point out that, individually, these are all great recipes! If you ever need a single layer cake for a small gathering or want more a snack cake situation, one of these would be perfect. The cakes are flavorful and soft and tender, and they’re each so good by themselves.
The only thing that really involves any prep ahead of time is the strawberry reduction, which is used to flavor the strawberry cake and frosting. You’ll need 2 cups of diced strawberries (fresh or frozen both work here). Puree them in a blender (you’ll have about 1 ½ cups of puree) and then let the puree simmer in a saucepan on the stove until there’s about half a cup left. It’ll be thick like a spread. This removes a lot of a liquid but keeps all of the flavor! You’ll need to let it cool completely before using, so you can make this a day or two in advance if you’d like.
I also used a strawberry emulsion (you can find this at most craft stores like Michael’s or order some online) for a little extra flavor and color. For me the hardest part of the strawberry cake layer is getting the hue. I used a little bit of this emulsion and a couple of tiny dabs of red food coloring to get the exact shade I wanted, so feel free to play around with that a little bit! Just remember to use very small dabs if you’re using gel food coloring because I completely ruined one of my strawberry cake layers this way! Totally came out a deep fuchsia color lol. It was fine. I told myself it was a test layer anyway as I threw it in the trash. 😔
Making the Frosting
I’ll start out by saying that if you want to cover your cake in one type of frosting (instead of three) that is totally okay. There’s a lot going on here. But if you’re sticking with the Neapolitan theme, you can make them easily by doing the vanilla first, then strawberry, and then chocolate. I made each of these in my stand mixer, scooped them out into a different bowl and popped it in the fridge. Then I wiped out my mixer bowl and moved on to the next one. They’re all your standard American buttercream, so it’s nothing daunting or super involved.
And there you have it! An easy Neapolitan cake for all you chocolate and strawberry lovers, all you lovely indecisive people (like myself) who can’t pick just one flavor. Have all three!
This classic Neapolitan Cake features layers of tender chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry cake as well as matching buttercream frostings!
Prep Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 25 mins
2 cups diced strawberries
Vanilla Cake Layer:
1 cup all-purpose flour¾ cups sugar1 tsp baking powder½ tsp baking soda¼ tsp salt2 large egg whites¼ cup vegetable oil1 tsp vanilla extract½ cup whole milk
Chocolate Cake Layer:
⅔ cup all-purpose flour¾ cups sugar⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder1 tsp baking powder½ tsp baking soda¼ tsp salt1 large egg¼ cup vegetable oil1 tsp vanilla extract½ cup whole milk
Strawberry Cake Layer:
1 cup all-purpose flour1 tsp baking powder½ tsp baking soda¼ tsp salt¾ cups sugar2 large egg whites¼ cup vegetable oil1 tsp vanilla extract½ cup whole milk½ cup strawberry reduction1 – 1 ½ tsp strawberry emulsion
Vanilla Bean Frosting:
½ cup butter room temperature½ cup shortening1 tsp vanilla bean paste1 tbsp heavy cream2 cups powdered sugar
½ cup butter room temperature½ cup shortening1 tsp vanilla extract1 tbsp heavy cream1 ¾ cups powdered sugar¼ cup cocoa powder
½ cup butter room temperature½ cup shortening1 tsp vanilla extract1 tbsp heavy cream2-3 tbsp strawberry reduction2 cups powdered sugar
To make the strawberry reduction:
Place strawberries in a blender (I used the single serve cup option with my blender) and blend until smooth. You should have about 1 ½ cups of puree. Pour puree in a small saucepan over medium to medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to medium/medium-low and cook until mixture is reduced to ½ cup, about 20 to 30 minutes stirring every five minutes or so, especially toward the end, to make sure the mixture isn’t sticking to the bottom.
Remove from heat and allow reduction to cool completely. Store covered in the refrigerator.
To make the cake layers:
For each cake layer you can follow this method: Preheat oven to 350°F, and butter and flour three 8-inch cake pans.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. (For the chocolate layer, whisk in the cocoa powder here as well.)
Add the egg whites for the vanilla and strawberry layers OR the whole egg for the chocolate layer. Add oil, vanilla, and milk. (For the strawberry layer, add the strawberry reduction and emulsion here too.) Mix until well blended and no lumps remain.
Pour batter into one of the three cake pans.
To bake the cake layers:
You can bake all three cake layers at the same time on 350°F for about 25 minutes, or until set in the center and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
You can also bake them one at a time for 23 to 25 minutes. Mix together the batter for the next layer while the other is baking, etc.
Let cake layers cool completely before frosting.
To make the frostings:
For each of the frostings, you can follow this method: In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and shortening until combined and smooth. Add vanilla, cream, and powdered sugar. (Add chocolate here for the chocolate frosting, and add strawberry reduction and emulsion here for the strawberry frosting.)
Mix on low speed until mostly combined, and then high speed until completely combined. Whip on medium/medium-high speed for 1 additional minute.
Once cake layers are cool, use a cake saw or serrated knife to level each layer.
Place the chocolate cake layer on a cake plate or stand. Spread about ⅓ to ½ of the chocolate frosting over the cake.
Next, add the vanilla cake layer. Top with about ⅓ to ½ of the strawberry frosting.
Finally, add the strawberry layer. Crumb coat the cake with about half of the vanilla frosting.
Chill cake in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes. (This step is optional, but I find a cold cake easier to decorate, especially in the Alabama heat.)
To decorate the cake, use offset spatulas to add swipes of each frosting all over the cake. You can also pipe some around the top and garnish with strawberries if you’d like!
All images and text ©Bethcakes.