Neapolitan cake is an easy 3 layer cake. Its vanilla, chocolate and strawberry flavors are simply delicious. I’m sure everyone will love this Italian layer cake!
3 delicious cake layers with vanilla filling, cream cheese frosting, chocolate ganache and wafer decoration. All this makes it a perfect Neapolitan Birthday cake or small Neapolitan Wedding cake! This flavor combination makes it a lovely Valentine’s Day Cake, too.
If you love chocolate, strawberry and vanilla flavors, you will definitely enjoy this cake! A combination of soft cake sponges, vanilla cream and crunchy wafers will make you asking for one more piece of cake.
And to be honest, Neapolitan cake recipe is much easier than you think! We will guide you through making this Italian Neapolitan cake recipe with step-by-step process photos.
What is Neapolitan Cake and its history
Neapolitan cake is simply a tribute to Neapolitan ice cream or Harlequin ice cream. The ice cream comes with three layers of chocolate, vanilla and chocolate that was named in 19th century.
Interesting fact that first Neapolitan ice cream had layers that represent the flag – green pistachio, white vanilla and red cherry. However, when it was introduced in the United States, it was changed. Chocolate, vanilla and strawberry were the more popular flavors in America.
On the other side, the flag of Naples is black, red and white. So it might be that chocolate, strawberry and vanilla layers are representation of Neapolitan flag.
Anyways, through time it was chocolate, strawberry and vanilla flavor combination that was more popular. I made this Neapolitan cake from scratch, and I must say it’s truly delicious combination of flavors!
There are different Neapolitan cake ideas, including ice cream cake and marbled cake with strawberry, vanilla and chocolate flavors.
Are these flavors your favorite now? Our certainly are, so I decided to create this Neapolitan cake with cream cheese frosting, chocolate ganache and wafer decoration.
How to make Neapolitan cake
This cake recipe is easy, because you need to make one batch of batter for strawberry and vanilla layer and one batch of frosting.
The chocolate cake sponge is made separately. But it is so much worth it! It’s deep chocolate flavor and color make a perfect bottom sponge. And I think this is my favorite layer!
I’ve tested the basic sponge, adding just cocoa, but it tasted and looked bland to my linking. I wanted more chocolate flavor, so I decided to make a chocolate sponge from scratch.
You will need 2 or 3 spring form pans that are 6.3 inch (ca. 16 cm) in diameter. Layer the bottom of the pans with parchment paper, because it will be easier to remove from the pan.
Easy vanilla cake batter is made with butter, sugar, room temperature eggs, milk, self-raising flour, sour cream and vanilla extract. You will need hand or stand mixer to make it. Then divide the batter in half.
If you make this cake for larger pans, you should make an extra batter or multiply all ingredients by two. Otherwise your sponge cakes will be too thin. Adjust the baking time according to the size of your cake!
For strawberry cake, add strawberry preserves and red food coloring to one part of the cake batter.
Bake three sponges in the oven, preheated to 350 F /180 C. Check with an inserted toothpick – if t comes out clean, it’s ready. It will take about 30 minutes, but 3 sponges may not cook the same time. So keep checking on them!
Let the sponges cool on wire racks, and remove from the pans.
Oh, and I used store-bought vanilla cake cream powder, to make an easy filling for Neapolitan cake.
Layer the chocolate, then strawberry, then vanilla sponge on top with white vanilla filling in between. Then frost the sides of the cake.
I am a fan of cream cheese frosting instead of buttercream frosting! Just mix cream cheese with powdered sugar and vanilla. Divide in three bowls. You will need to add melted chocolate in one, then pink gel food coloring to another.
I tried to add strawberry preserves to cream cheese frosting. But it make it thinner and more difficult to frost, so I decided to go just with a gel coloring.
Frost the bottom chocolate sponge with chocolate frosting, then the middle with pink frosting and top with leftover vanilla frosting. If you want, you can also frost it like ombre cake.
I decided to top the Neapolitan cake with melted chocolate and decorate with different wafers. However, you can top your Birthday cake with funfetti, strawberries and chocolate chips!
How to plan and store layer cake
I suggest you plan to make the layer cake at least 2 days ahead of celebration. You can bake the sponges and leave them cool up until another day.
The next day prepare the filling and frosting. Frost the cake and leave it in the fridge for 2 hours to set. Decorate with chocolate and wafers and serve.
Store Neapolitan Cake up to 3 days in the fridge. Keep in mind that if you don’t cover the cake, the white frosting can have a yellow hue. It’s ok to taste!
Other Birthday Cake ideas
And if you think this is a pretty small cake, you should check our 2 tier Peach cake with cream cheese frosting and chocolate shards.
Oh, and if you love chocolate, you should check our Vegan chocolate cake! Who wouldn’t love chocolate Birthday cake? Well…I would love for sure!
We are sure this Neapolitan layer cake will be a show-stopper at your celebration! Don’t forget to follow us on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook! And if you make this layer cake or one of our other cake recipes, tag us to let us know. We love to see what you are baking!
Festive Neapolitan Cake
Vanilla and strawberry cake sponges
- 160 g unsalted butter softened - 2/3 cups
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 100 g sugar ½ cup
- 2 eggs large, room temperature
- 215 g self-rising flour 1½ cup
- 160 ml milk ⅔ cup
- 1 tbsp sour cream at least 25 % fat
- red food gel coloring
- 1 tbsp strawberry preserves
Chocolate cake sponge
- 168 g vegetable oil ¾ cup
- 100 g sugar ½ cup
- 1 egg large
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 35 g cocoa powder unsweetened - ⅓ cup
- 95 g self-rising flour ¾ cup
- 125 ml milk ½ cup + extra for mixing vanilla cake cream
- 125 ml water ½ cup
Filling and frosting
- 1 pack vanilla cake cream powder
- 400 g cream cheese 1 ⅔ cup
- red food gel coloring
- 50 g dark chocolate chopped, or chips - ½ cup
- 100 g dark chocolate chopped, or chips - 1 cup
- 1 tsp butter
- wafers for decoration
- Preheat oven to 350 F / 180 C.
- Place butter and sugar to the mixing bowl. Using hand mixer, beat until pale and incorporated.
- Mix in egg, one by one with electric mixer.
- Sift in flour.
- Beat with hand mixer just until combined.
- Add milk. Beat with electric mixer until creamy consistency.
- Divide mix into 2 bowls.
- Place 1 part in the spring form baking pan, the bottom layered with parchment paper and sides smeared with butter.
- Add strawberry jam to another bowl with batter. Proceed with mixer until just combined.
- Add red gel coloring.Beat until you have pink batter.
- Bake sponges in separate pans, layered with parchment paper, up to 30 minutes in the oven. Check with a wooden skewer - if t comes out clean, it's ready.
- For the chocolate sponge, add egg, oil, sugar, vanilla and cocoa in a bowl. Beat until incorporated.
- Add milk and sifted flour. Beat until incorporated.
- Bake chocolate sponge in a pan, layered with parchment paper, up to 30 minutes in the oven. Check with a wooden skewer - if it comes out clean, it's ready. Let them cool completely before frosting.
- Prepare vanilla cream according to package instructions.
- Put the bottom chocolate cake on a serving plate. Add 1/2 of vanilla cream filling in the center.
- Add pink sponge on top and add remaining vanilla cream. Place vanilla sponge on top.
- Mix cream cheese with powdered sugar, add few drops of vanilla extract.
- Add 1/3 of cream cheese frosting to another bowl. Melt 1/4 of chocolate in microwave or Bain Marie and slowly incorporate it in cream cheese until smooth.
- Add 1/3 of cream cheese frosting to another bowl and mix with red gel coloring until bright pink.
- Using an offset spatula, frost the cake from bottom with chocolate, then pink, then leftover white frosting. Frost the top with white frosting, too. Leave the cake to set in the fridge for 2 hours.
- Melt chocolate, mixed with 1 tsp of batter and pour it on top of the cake. Make the drips, pushing to the sides with offset spatula or spoon.
- Decorate Neapolitan cake with wafers.