Ancient History

Neo-Neapolitan Cake

    My favorite ice cream when I was a kid was neapolitan. It’s a layered combination of the three most popular kids at ice cream school: Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry. Of course, the chocolate is mined out first, like precious gold. Then the strawberry, then lowly vanilla. It wasn’t until adulthood when I could appreciate the three flavors together.

    I wanted to bake a cake for Valentine’s Day mostly because it’s the one chance for my silicon heart-shaped pan to be rescued from Pots n’ Pans Purgatory. I wanted to do something unique. Neapolitan cake! It would be so easy.

    Take it from the top...

    Normally, I’m a scratch baker, avoiding box mixes if I can. In this case, I made an exception because mixing up three different cake batters from scratch could take all day. Also, I figured it was important that the batters be consistent in thickness and baking times. I used Pilsbury cake mixes because they had identical bake times for each flavor. I got devil’s food, white, and strawberry.

    Mixing up three batters at once was very easy. I lined up three bowls and poured the cake mixes. I put water in each, then oil, then the eggs. It was like a factory assembly line. I mixed white, washed the beaters, mixed strawberry, washed the beaters, mixed devil’s food, washed the beaters. I went from lightest to darkest in case I missed a glob.

    spreading the love

    My plan was to use 1/3 of the cake batter from each flavor. 1/3 + 1/3 + 1/3 = one whole cake. This worked out to be 1 1/3 cups of each flavor. I poured devil’s food, then spread it. Then vanilla, then strawberry. I baked it for 34 minutes, which was perfect.

    But what should I do with the rest of the batters? I made 24 cupcakes, 8 of each flavor. That took up another 1/3 of the batters. The rest of the batter was spread in a pan side-by-side.

    What did I get myself into?

    It was a lot of work. It’s not the kind of cake to throw together on a random Tuesday afternoon. But for special celebrations, it’s a lovely, bright, tasty choice I’d do again. In fact, my plan is to make it again for Ollie’s first birthday.


    Frosting ideas: What’s great about this cake is that you could use chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla frosting. Any would work. I decided on strawberry because I wanted the cakes to be pink for Valentine’s Day. To color the frosting, I threw a few whole strawberries into a standard vanilla buttercream. It gave the frosting a pretty tint and authentic flavor.

    For the cupcakes, I topped them with the strawberry buttercream. I put red sprinkles on some. A few lucky cupcakes got dotted with dark chocolate pomegranate candies.

    Let me know if you try it!

5 comments to Neo-Neapolitan Cake

  • Marie

    YUM! Any leftovers??

  • Amy

    That’s a big project, I admire the effort BUT I feel about neopolitan ice cream the way you feel about cream cheese.

  • How fun! I think you need to talk Bea into a heart cake for her birthday, that way you have more reasons to use it. Question, how do you like the silicone heart pan?? I have some cupcake liners that are silicone, but haven’t tried something bigger. Does the cake hold up well getting it out?
    Charlotte recently posted..The Girls’ RoomMy Profile

    • Gretchen

      Charlotte, I think the biggest issue with larger pans is they are more wobbly when taking out the cake/putting them in. Sometimes, they say to put them on cookie sheets, but I’ve always wondered if it effected the baking time. So I use this big wooden pizza paddle we have to get it out of the oven.

      Also, it’s claimed you don’t need to grease/flour silicon pans, but I found that to be not true, too. I did a quick burst of baking spray to help it slide out.

  • I don’t even like Neapolitan ice cream but I think I would LOVE that cake! And the photos are great!

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