A glance at the ingredients and instructions for this cake, and you might be thinking, “Looks good but too much work!”. Let me assure you though, it’s not as much work as it seems! While you do have to make 2 separate cake batters, they both come together very quickly and each one takes less than 20 minutes to bake. While the chocolate cakes are baking, I prepared the white cake batter so it only took about an hour and a half to prepare AND bake both kinds of cake! That’s not bad, right?! I even had time to wash up the dishes while I was waiting for the white cakes to finish baking. (Washing the dishes is totally optional though!) Then, I went to the park for a run while the cakes cooled, came home, and whipped up my frosting. Excluding cool-time, I’d say you can plan for around 2 hours of active time for this cake.
This cake has all the flavors of neapolitan ice cream – but in cake form. 2 layers of chocolate cake + 2 layers of vanilla cake + strawberry frosting. I debated whether I needed some strawberry cake too, but in the end decided that the strawberry frosting was all the strawberry I needed. The frosting is a simple buttercream frosting kicked up a notch with freeze dried strawberries. I discovered the deliciousness of freeze dried strawberries for frostings back when I made (some ridiculously good!) Strawberry Cupcakes. Freeze dried strawberries pack sooo much strawberry flavor but without all the moisture of fresh or frozen strawberries. I used the same concept here, except I needed my frosting to be a little sturdier since I was making a layer cake this time so I omitted the cream cheese.
Each component alone is delicious, but when they come together magic happens! Seriously, this was one of the best cakes I’ve ever made! The cake layers are light and moist, yet sturdy enough that you don’t have to worry about your cake falling over – even with 4 layers. And it doesn’t even fall apart when you slice it! Definitely keep this cake in mind for your next dinner party or special occasion…or for the next time you have a couple hours to spend in the kitchen. You won’t be disappointed! I chose to frost my cake using an off-set spatula, but if you’re feeling fancy you could pipe it on instead =). Enjoy!
Neapolitan Layer Cake
For the chocolate cake:
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
6 tbsp Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 large egg
1/2 cup black coffee (I used 1 tsp instant coffee + 1/2 cup water)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the white cake:
2 large egg whites
1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
8 tbsp (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup very cold water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
For the frosting:
16 tbsp (2 sticks) butter, softened slightly but not completely room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1.2 oz freeze dried strawberries
1 tsp vanilla
1/4-1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1. To make the chocolate cake, line the bottom of 2 8-inch round cake pans with parchment and spray with nonstick spray.
2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt; whisk to blend and set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, vegetable oil and egg. Beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.
4. With the mixer on low speed, blend in half of the dry ingredients, beating just until incorporated. Blend in the coffee, buttermilk and vanilla just until smooth. Beat in the remaining dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.
5. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Bake, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges, then turn the cake out onto the rack and let cool completely.
6. To make the white cake, line the bottom of 2 8-inch round cake pans with parchment and spray with nonstick spray.
7. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; whisk to blend and set aside.
8. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Increase speed to medium high and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Transfer the egg whites to another bowl and set aside.
9. In the bowl of the electric mixer now fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and butter, and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, beat in half of the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Blend in the water, vanilla and almond extracts. Beat in the remaining dry ingredients just until incorporated.
10. With a silicone spatula, stir in about a quarter of the egg whites to lighten the batter. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites, until the batter is smooth and no streaks remain.
11. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans and bake, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges, then turn the cake out onto the rack and let cool completely.
12. To make the frosting, in bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. In blender or food processor, pulse freeze dried strawberries until ground into a fine powder. Add to butter and beat until combined.
13. On low speed, gradually beat in powdered sugar. Add vanilla and beat until combined. Add in 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream and beat on medium speed until frosting is light and fluffy, a couple minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. If frosting is still too thick, add remaining whipping cream one tablespoon at a time until frosting is creamy, and easily spreadable.
14. To assemble cake, place one of the chocolate cake layers on desired serving plate. Top with ~1/2 cup of the prepared frosting, spreading in an even layer. Top with one of the white cake layers. Spread ~1/2 cup of the frosting over top of white cake. Repeat process with second chocolate cake layer, ~1/2 cup frosting, and remaining white cake layer. Using an offset spatula, spread remainging frosting over top and sides of cake.
*cake from Sweetapolita, as seen on Annie’s Eats; frosting Kendra’s Treats original recipe