This Neapolitan Cake with vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry layers and creamy buttercream frosting is the ultimate summer cake for any party! The Neapolitan look is a classic and will make this layer cake the perfect addition for special events or simply just celebrating the everyday!
Neapolitan Ice Cream
Hey girlfriends! Raise your hand if Neapolitan ice cream is one of your absolute favorites! You and me both! ;) It’s always been a favorite of mine since I was little, which is why I am SO excited for this Neapolitan inspired cake! What a perfect way to celebrate the summer with a spin off of a traditional summer treat! This Neapolitan cake is the ultimate cake to indulge in this summer with vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate cake layers. I am blown away by our super talented contributor Ashley Byma with this one. This cake is so fun for any summer celebration, and such a great way to celebrate the every day during summer!
Neapolitan Cake Recipe
This cake can be put together in a few steps. But as always, don’t forget you can just use this as inspiration for your local bakery as well! To get started, first make sure you preheat your oven to 325 degrees. You will need white cake mix, all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, salt, buttermilk, sour cream, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, eggs, freeze-dried strawberries (processed to a powder), and cocoa powder. Also, make sure you spray three 6-inch cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper. This will ensure your cake will not stick to the pans!
How to Make A Layered Cake
Add the dry cake mix, flour, granulated sugar, and salt into a bowl and mix the ingredients with a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Then switch to a paddle attachment and add buttermilk, sour cream, vegetable oil, vanilla, and eggs. To make this batter perfectly, mix these ingredients on low-medium speed and make sure you don’t overmix the batter!
How to Bake a Cake
Using the 6-inch cake pans you prepped before, pour 1/3 of the batter into one of the cake pans. Pour another 1/3 into a bowl and add the powdered freeze-dried strawberries and mix the ingredients until it is all combined. Then transfer this batter into the prepped cake pan. Pour the remaining 1/3 batter into a second bowl, mix in 1/3 cup cocoa power and ¼ cup buttermilk, and mix these ingredients until combined. Then transfer this batter into the prepped cake pan as well. Each cake pan now has the three flavored layers. Bake the 3 layers for 25-30 minutes or until the middles are set. You can use a toothpick in the middle to see if cake batter comes up. If no batter comes up on the toothpick, the cakes are done! Set the layers aside so they can cool, and wrap them in plastic wrap before putting them in the freezer. This will make sure the cakes are ready to be decorated and ensure they will not crumble when you are decorating!
While the three layers are baking, you can make the buttercream frosting! I LOVE this Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting recipe. It is super easy to make and one of the most delicious frostings I’ve ever had! The ingredients you’ll need are sugar, egg whites, salt, butter, and some vanilla extract. Start by whisking your sugar, egg whites, and salt together until they are combined. Get a saucepan and heat a small amount of water until it starts boiling. Create a double boiler for your mixing bowl and saucepan, making sure you continuously whisk the egg mixture until it heats up. Mix your ingredients in the mixer, making sure you start low and gradually move to high. When the meringue is glossy with stiff peaks, mix in the butter until it’s smooth. Add vanilla and switch out the whisk for the paddle attachment. Switch to medium on the mixer to beat the frosting. Once the frosting is smooth, the buttercream is complete!
How to Make Buttercream
Use the batch of Swiss Meringue Buttercream to make the Neapolitan Buttercream. Use 1 cup of the buttercream you made and mix in ¼ cup strawberry preserves. This buttercream mix will be used to fill one of the layers between the cakes. Get another cup of the buttercream and mix in ¼ cup cocoa powder. This mix will also be used for another layer between the cakes. Leave the remaining buttercream, since it is vanilla, for the outside of the cake. You can add gel food coloring to the remaining buttercream if you want to add color to the outside of the cake!
How to Stack a Cake
To build the cake, take the cake layers out and see if they baked evenly. If the cake layers did not bake evenly, you can use a bread knife and trim the top off the layers. This will make the tops flat and make decorating easier. If you froze the cake layers, let them thaw a bit before trimming them. Once the layers are trimmed, place the strawberry layer on a cake board. You can use a layer of buttercream as “glue” between the cake layer and the cake board if you desire. For the strawberry layer, add the strawberry buttercream with an offset spatula as “glue” so the next cake layer will hold. Add on the chocolate cake layer and use the chocolate buttercream to use as the next layer’s “glue.” Then add on the 3rd vanilla layer and frost the outside of the cake with the regular buttercream. You can use a cake comb for the stripes. On top of the cake, the “scoops” of ice cream are made with the leftover buttercream that was frozen to get the shape. The swirls on top were made using a Wilton 1M top as well.
How to Make a Drip Cake
This white chocolate drip should be made and completed when the cake is all assembled, frosted, and chilled. All you will need are some Wilton bright white candy melts and heavy whipping cream. Add 1 cup of the bright white candy to a bowl, and add ¼ cup heavy whipping cream to another microwave-safe bowl (a glass measuring cup works great). Microwave the cream in 30-second bursts for about a minute. Make sure you keep an eye on the cream because it can bubble over quickly! Pour the cream over candy melts and let them sit for about 3 minutes before stirring. Make sure you continue to stir until you have made the “drip” consistency. What I do is test the mix on the side of a bowl to make sure I have the consistency I like. If needed, microwave the candy melts for 15 seconds until fully melted. Add the mix into a plastic squeeze bottle and squeeze at a 45-degree angle around the top edges of the cake. This will give you the drip frosting look that is super cute!
I never knew making a layer cake like this would be so fun! The celebration is definitely worth the amount of dishes in the sink afterwards! ;) Even though there are many steps, the outcome is SUPER fun, and this is a recipe you’ll want to keep around for every summer occasion. This 3 layer cake has become one of my new summer favorites for sure! What party do you think this Neapolitan cake would be perfect for? Comment below! I can’t wait to hear about your summer plans!
- For the Neapolitan Cake
- 1 box white cake mix
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk room temp
- 1 cup sour cream room temp
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 whole eggs room temp
- 1 oz freeze dried strawberries processed to a powder
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- ¼ cup buttermilk room temp
- For the Neapolitan Buttercream
- 1 batch Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe & instructions found here
- ¼ cup strawberry preserves
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- For the White Chocolate Drip
- 1 cup Wilton bright white candy melts
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
- For the Cake
- Preheat oven to 325° F. Spray three 6-inch cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the dry cake mix, flour, sugar, and salt. Mix until combined.
- Switch to the paddle attachment and add buttermilk, sour cream, vegetable oil, vanilla & eggs. Mix on low-medium speed just until combined but do not overmix.
- Pour 1/3 of the batter into one cake pan.
- Pour another 1/3 into a bowl and add the powdered freeze fried strawberries. Mix just until combined; then transfer to prepared cake pan.
- Pour the remaining 1/3 into a second bowl and mix in 1/3 cup cocoa powder and ¼ cup buttermilk. Mix just until combined; then transfer to prepared cake pan.
- Bake all 3 layers for about 25-30 minutes or until the middles are set. Insert a toothpick in the middle of the cakes to test.
- For the Buttercream
- Set aside 1 cup of buttercream and mix in strawberry preserves. This will be used to fill one layer between the cakes.
- Set aside another cup of buttercream and mix in cocoa powder. This will be used to fill one layer between the cakes.
- Remaining buttercream (vanilla) will be used to frost the outside of the cake. You can tint the buttercream using gel food coloring if desired.
- For the White Chocolate Drip
- (Complete after cake is assembled, frosted, and chilled.)
- Add 1 cup of candy melts to a bowl.
- Add ¼ cup heavy whipping cream to microwave-safe dish (I use a glass measuring cup) and microwave in 30-second bursts for about 1 minute. It can bubble over quickly so keep an eye on it!
- Pour over candy melts and let sit for about 3 minutes before stirring. Continue stirring until fully combined and you have the desired “drip” consistency (I recommend testing on the side of a bowl first). You may need to microwave for another 15 seconds for the candy melts to fully melt.
- Add to plastic squeeze bottle and carefully squeeze at a 45-degree angle around top edges of cake.
- If the cake layers do not bake evenly, you can use a bread knife to trim the top off and make it flat which is easier for decorating. If you froze the cake layers, you will need to let the cake layers thaw just a bit before trimming.
- Start with the frozen/semi-thawed cake layers, and place one layer (strawberry) on a cake board. You can use a spoonful of buttercream as “glue” between the cake layer and cake board if you like.
- Starting with the strawberry cake layer (already “glued” to the cake board with buttercream), add your 1 cup of strawberry buttercream and level with an offset spatula.
- Add your second cake layer (chocolate) and repeat with the one cup of chocolate buttercream, then top with 3rd (vanilla) cake layer and frost the outside with the vanilla SMBC.
- The stripes were made using a cake comb; and the “scoops” of ice cream are frozen SMBC.
- Swirls were made using a Wilton 1M tip.