Neapolitan Cake






My days of eating Neapolitan ice cream are long gone, since I'm not so indecisive about ice cream that I need three flavors mixed together anymore, but the memories of those cardboard containers of striped blocks of strawberry, chocolate and vanilla ice cream are vivid.

I remember that there were two ways of scooping the ice cream, depending on what you felt like.  First, you could run the ice cream scooper across all three stripes, for a trio of flavors in one pretty scoop.  Or, perhaps you were only in the mood for one flavor, and in that case, you would carefully scoop down into your favorite, taking care not to mix the colors.









Neapolitan ice cream is believed to have originated from Italy in the 1800s, when immigrants from Naples created the ice cream to resemble the color blocks of the Italian flag.

And while I haven't bought a carton of the ice cream in years, as a maker of cakes and sweet pretty things, I'm always thinking of ways to turn just about everything into a cake, and I loved the idea of a cake with those pretty stripes.  Not to mention, chocolate, strawberry and vanilla really do taste lovely together.








I will admit, this cake is a bit labor-intensive, considering you are making three cake batters and three buttercreams - all from scratch - so it does take some time to prep everything.

The bottom layer is dark chocolate with a subtle hint of espresso, frosted with salted dark chocolate espresso buttercream.

Next is vanilla, rich and fragrant, seemingly simple; although I always think vanilla doesn't receive the credit it deserves.






And strawberry to top everything off.  I macerated fresh strawberries with sugar until juicy, and blended them into a puree to mix right into the cake batter, with a little of the sweet red juice reserved for the buttercream.  The strawberry cake and buttercream are naturally colored, and the pink is ever-so-subtle, although you could always add a few drops of pink food coloring if you'd like the pink to be a little more bold.






Pretty polka dot paper straws with a bit of tissue paper transform into paper "candles" for an easy, but beautiful topper for your cake.  Or instead of tissue paper "flames", little paper hearts can be glued to the tops of the straws to top your cake for a show-stopping Valentine's centerpiece.

So, is the cake worth the extra effort?  Well, I may be a teeny bit biased, but I think the stunning cake speaks for itself.  And in the kitchen at my office, the cake has now been reduced to nothing but a few pink, black and white crumbs.





Neapolitan Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 and spray three 8-inch pans with non-stick spray.  All cakes should be baked for approximately 22-28 minutes, or until the centers spring back and a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool the cakes completely, in the pans, set on wire racks and covered loosely with clean kitchen towels.

Strawberry Cake.
  • 8 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
Combine the strawberries and sugar in a bowl and toss until coated.  Let sit until the berries are juicy, then blend until smooth.  Reserve 1/4 cup of the strawberry puree for the buttercream.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Add the eggs, vanilla, olive oil and strawberry puree (except for 1/4 cup) and whisk until smooth.  Pour into a cake pan and bake as directed above.

Vanilla Cake.
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Add the eggs, vanilla, oil, milk and sour cream and whisk until smooth.  Pour into a cake pan and bake as directed above.

Chocolate Cake.
  • 2/3 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened, special dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder.  Add the egg, olive oil, boiling water and vanilla and whisk until smooth.  Pour into a cake pan and bake as directed above.

Strawberry Buttercream.
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder
  • 1/4 cup reserved strawberry puree (left from cake)
  • cream, if needed
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for two minutes until smooth.  With the mixer on low, add the powdered sugar and meringue powder and mix until combined.  Add the strawberry puree and whip on medium high for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy, adding a little cream if needed for consistency.

Vanilla Buttercream.
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons cream
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for two minutes until smooth.  With the mixer on low, add the powdered sugar and meringue powder and mix until combined.  Add the vanilla and cream whip on medium high for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy.

Chocolate Buttercream.
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened special dark cocoa powder
  • 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for two minutes until smooth.  With the mixer on low, add the cocoa powder, powdered sugar and meringue powder and mix until combined.  Add the vanilla, espresso powder, salt and cream and whip on medium high for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy.


Assembly and Decorating.

Remove the cooled cakes from the pans and brush free of crumbs.  Have all your bowls of buttercream ready, along with an icing spatula, a bench scraper, and three piping bags.

Place the chocolate cake on a cake board.  Frost the top of the cake with about 1/4 inch of chocolate buttercream, then spread a thin layer around the sides of the cake.

Place the vanilla cake on the chocolate, and repeat with frosting the top and sides with the vanilla buttercream, taking care not to mix the buttercreams.

Repeat with the strawberry.

Take your bench scraper and run it around the sides of the cake to smooth out the thin crumb coat of buttercream.  Chill the cake for 20 minutes.

Fill your piping bags with each flavor of buttercream, and snip off the ends.  Starting at the bottom with the chocolate, pipe the buttercream around the cake in 3-4 rows to fill in the chocolate section - this is not supposed to look pretty, but there shouldn't be any gaps between your rows; you want every row touching the next.  Repeat with the vanilla, then the strawberry until the sides of the cake are covered in piped rows of buttercream.

Now, take your bench scraper and lightly run it around the side of the cake to smooth the buttercream and blend the rows together.  Wipe the bench scraper clean, and repeat several times until the buttercream is pretty and smooth.  Your colors should blend together seamlessly and easily.

Smooth out the pink buttercream on top of the cake and you're done!

For the paper "candles" snip pretty paper straws into different lengths and stuff the ends with tissue paper.

Recipe and Design by Curly Girl Kitchen

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