Neapolitan Cake

Neapolitan Cake | browneyedbaker.com #recipe

Let’s talk neapolitan ice cream. Yay or nay? I was seriously terrified of neapolitan ice cream when I was a kid. I would only entertain vanilla or chocolate as possible ice cream options, so if I was at a birthday party and someone whipped out a carton of neapolitan, I had a legit meltdown. You could scoop me the chocolate and/or vanilla, but oh my goodness, if you got even a speck of strawberry into my ice cream, I lost my mind. I don’t know why I was so opposed to strawberry; I’ve always loved strawberries! However, something about strawberry ice cream just didn’t seem right to my little mind.

Of course, I eventually got over it (fresh strawberry ice cream is now one of my favorites!). So over it, in fact, that I made an entire cake based on the neapolitan flavors.

Neapolitan Cake | browneyedbaker.com #recipe

To say that this cake was a labor of love is a massive understatement. I had seen some neapolitan cakes online, but they all consisted of cake from a box mix, and freezing the other half, neither of which I wanted to do. So, off to create single-layer cakes for each flavor. Trust me when I tell you that this was easier said that done. Over the course of three days, I must have made 9 or 10 different cakes, trying to get them just right.

The good news? It finally happened, and if you like strawberry, chocolate and vanilla, you are going to go bonkers over this cake. I thought that the flavors would be perfect for a fancy-pants Mother’s Day cake, and decided it needed some fancy-pants frosting work, as well.

Neapolitan Cake | browneyedbaker.com #recipe

I remembered seeing a ruffle cake online and definitely felt that a frilly finish was perfect for Mother’s Day. I mirrored the cake layers with the frosting on the outside, going with strawberry, then chocolate, then vanilla. It makes for a super impressive cake and is a lot less difficult than I imagined (albeit a bit time consuming).

I describe in the instructions below how to achieve this look, but I also had my Chief Culinary Consultant take a short video of me while I was frosting the cake to give you a visual:

Neapolitan Cake | browneyedbaker.com #recipe

I’m so glad that I’ve grown up enough to appreciate the combination of strawberry, chocolate and vanilla.

We’ll just ignore all of my other weird food tendencies ;-)

Neapolitan Cake | browneyedbaker.com #recipe

One year ago: Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Two years ago: Strawberry Cream Cheese Crumble Tart
Four years ago: Toffee Pretzel Bark

Neapolitan Cake

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours

Inspired by neapolitan ice cream, layers of strawberry, chocolate and vanilla cake, frosted with the same flavors using a ruffle design.

Ingredients:

For the Strawberry Cake Layer:
⅓ cup whole milk
⅓ cup strawberry jam
3 egg whites, at room temperature
½ teaspoon strawberry extract (optional)
4¾ ounces (approximately 1¼ cups) all-purpose flour
6 ounces granulated sugar (approximately ⅔ cup)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into cubes
Red or pink food coloring (optional)

For the Chocolate Cake Layer:
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg
½ cup whole milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup boiling water

For the White Cake Layer:
½ cup whole milk, at room temperature
3 egg whites, at room temperature
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 tablespoons cups cake flour
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into small cubes

For the Vanilla Frosting:
1½ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
3¾ cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons heavy cream
4½ tablespoons vanilla extract

For the Strawberry Frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons strawberry jam
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon strawberry extract (optional)
Red food coloring

For the Chocolate Frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Directions:

1. Make the Strawberry Cake Layer: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one 8-inch round cake pan, line the bottom with a round of parchment paper, grease the parchment, then flour the inside of the pan, tapping out excess; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, jam, eggs and extract (if using); set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt on low speed to combine. With the mixer still on low speed, add the butter and combine until the mixture resembles coarse sand, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add two-thirds of the milk mixture to the flour mixture and beat at medium speed for 1½ minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the remaining milk mixture and beat for 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl again and beat on high for another 20 seconds. With the mixer on low add a few drops of food coloring until the desired color is reached (I used 8 drops of red food coloring.)

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 20 minutes, then turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely..

5. Make the Chocolate Cake Layer: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one 8-inch round cake pan, line the bottom with a round of parchment paper, grease the parchment, then flour the inside of the pan, tapping out excess; set aside.

6. Whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add the egg, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the boiling water and mix on medium-low speed until combined (batter will be thin). Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

7. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 20 minutes, then turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

8. Make the White Cake Layer: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one 8-inch round cake pan, line the bottom with a round of parchment paper, grease the parchment, then flour the inside of the pan, tapping out excess; set aside.

9. Whisk together the milk, egg whites and vanilla extract in a medium bowl; set aside.

10. Mix the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Add the butter and continue beating on low until the mixture resembles coarse sand, 1 to 2 minutes.

11. Add all but ¼ cup of the milk mixture to flour mixture and beat at medium speed for 1½ minutes. Add the remaining milk mixture and beat for an additional minute.

12. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 27 to 35 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes, then turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

13. Make the Vanilla Frosting: Using the wire whisk attachment of your stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and add the vanilla, mixing until incorporated. Whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.

14. Make the Strawberry Frosting: Using the wire whisk attachment of your stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, mix in the strawberry jam, heavy cream, vanilla extract and strawberry extract (if using), then increase the speed to medium-high and whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.

15. Make the Chocolate Frosting: Using the wire whisk attachment of your stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and add the heavy cream and vanilla, mixing until incorporated. Add the melted chocolate and whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed to incorporate all of the chocolate.

16. Assemble the Cake: Place the strawberry cake layer on a serving plate and spread with about ½ cup of the strawberry frosting. Top with the chocolate cake layer and spread with ½ cup of the chocolate frosting. Top with the white cake layer and apply a crumb coat to the entire cake. Refrigerate until the crumb coat has set, about 30 minutes.

17. Frost the Cake: Fit three separate pastry bags with a #103 decorating tip. Fill each bag separately with the strawberry, chocolate and vanilla frosting. Starting with the strawberry frosting, hold the bag vertically, with the tip perpendicular to cake; use a swift back-and-forth motion 1-inch wide to make the ruffle, moving up the side of the cake as you go, going up about one-third of the way up the cake. Continue around the entire cake, then repeat with the chocolate, then the vanilla. Use the same technique to make a ruffle design on the top of the cake.

18. The cake can be kept at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 4 days. It can also be frozen, with slices wrapped individually, for up to 1 month.

(Chocolate Cake adapted from Hershey's;
White Cake adapted from i am baker;
Strawberry Cake adapted from The Toasted Sprinkle;
All frosting recipes from Brown Eyed Baker);
Ruffle frosting design from Martha Stewart