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  • Sarah Cohan

Neapolitan Layer Cake


This cake is what 6-year-old dreams are made of. A quintessential celebratory birthday cake, or just something extra special for when you’re up for a challenge in the kitchen. You can decorate it any way you’d like (Petals! Piping! Sprinkles! Candy!) and it’s the perfect combination of flavors - dark chocolate and ultra sweet strawberry.

It’s got a few different steps (making two different types of cake layers and two different types of frosting - kind of), so if you want to do it over the course of a few days you can make the cake layers in advance and freeze them. It’s always easier to cut/level chilled layers anyway. You can either use two cake pans for each cake type and bake them a little less, or use one cake pan for each (just make sure it’s at least 2” high, if not more), bake them a little longer, and then cut the layers in half to get two. (Fat Daddio’s Anodized Aluminum cake pans are my favorite - check out all my favorite cake tips/tools here and here; more are referenced in the recipe below.)

Also, instead of making two completely different frostings, I decided to make the vanilla frosting, fill the cake, and then turn the rest into the strawberry frosting for the outside of the cake. Regarding the vanilla frosting, I’m completely in love with Sweetapolita’s toasted marshmallow frosting, so I adapted that a bit to use here. I really like how white it ends up, since so often vanilla frosting is actually tinted yellow because of the high butter content (I’m not a fan of shortening in frostings). The color is key here given the Neapolitan goal. I also prefer how you can use a bit less powdered sugar than you might otherwise, because of the sweetness of the Fluff. And…it’s Fluff. It makes everything better, right?

I really enjoyed the process of making this cake, and sharing and eating it was just as delightful. And you can use components of this recipe for other projects in the kitchen - a chocolate cake with strawberry frosting and chocolate covered strawberries perhaps? It’s a great recipe to have in your arsenal, for adults and children alike.

Happy Baking!

Adapted from Sweetapolita

MAKES one 9” 4-layer cake

CHOCOLATE CAKE LAYERS

INGREDIENTS/SUPPLIES

  • 3/4 cup hot coffee (or hot water w. 1tsp espresso powder)

  • 1.5 ounces semi or bittersweet chocolate, chopped or callets

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons flavorless oil (vegetable, canola, grapeseed, etc.)

  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla

  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional, but it bumps up the chocolate flavor for sure)

  • 1.5 eggs - weigh 2, whisk to combine yolks + whites, then remove 1/4 of the weight - or, if you don’t have a scale (Boo! You should!) remove about 1.5 Tablespoons)

  • 1 and 1/3 cups AP flour (165g)

  • 1.5 cups sugar (300g)

  • 3/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon cocoa (68g)

  • 1.5 teaspoons Baking Soda

  • 3/4 teaspoon Baking Powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • One or two 9” cake pans (if using one make sure it has at least 2” high sides)

  • CAKE GOOP! and a silicone brush

  • Hand whisk, measuring cups + spoons, pyrex measuring cups

  • Stand mixer with beater attachment

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F and goop-up your cake pan(s).

  2. Add 1.5oz chocolate to 3/4c hot coffee and let sit for 1 minute, then whisk to combine.

  3. Mix in bowl of stand mixer: 165g AP flour (1.33c), 300 white sugar (1.5c), 68 dark cocoa (3/4c + 1TB), 1.5 tsp baking soda, 3/4 tsp baking powder, and 3/4 tsp salt

  4. In a measuring cup, add - then whisk together: 3/4c buttermilk, 3/4c oil, 1.5tsp vanilla, 1/4tsp almond extract, and 1.5 eggs.

  5. Add coffee/chocolate mixture to your buttermilk/eggs mixture. Whisk to combine.

  6. With the mixer running on low, slowly pour in your liquid mix into your dry ingredients. Let mix for 1 minute on medium speed (essentially as fast as possible without major splatter), stop to scrape the sides and bottom, and mix for 1 more minute. The batter will be very thin - don't worry!

  7. Distribute evenly between your cake pans either by scooping equal amounts with measuring cups, or by weighing the pans.

  8. Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate the pans in oven. If you’re using two cake pans start checking after 5 more minutes; if one, after 10 more minutes. Bake until a tester in the center comes out clean, and/or using my tips on HOW TO TELL WHEN MY CAKE LAYERS ARE DONE.

  9. Let the cakes cool in their pans for 10-15 minutes before turning them out. Let them cool completely before using or storing in the freezer.

  10. If storing to use at a later time, chill them in the freezer until they can be handled easily without bending. Wrap them in plastic wrap and then tin foil. Label & freeze.

  11. If using them imminently, chill them in the fridge so they will be easier to level. If you've used one cake pan, make sure to level before you slice the layer in half to form two.

STRAWBERRY CAKE LAYERS

INGREDIENTS/SUPPLIES

  • 1 stick butter, room temperature

  • 1 cup sugar (200g)

  • 1.5 ounces strawberry jello powder*

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 and 1/3 cups AP flour (165g)

  • 1.25 teaspoons Baking Powder

  • 1/8 teaspoons salt

  • 1/2 cup whole milk

  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla

  • 1/4 cup seedless strawberry jam (mixed until smooth)

  • One or two 9” cake pans (if using one make sure it has at least 2” high sides)

  • CAKE GOOP! and a silicone brush

  • Medium mixing bowls/pyrex baking cups

  • Hand whisk

  • Stand mixer with beater attachment

*If you want to avoid gelatin you could probably try using a Strawberry drink mix like Quik instead of Jello, or perhaps you could skip this altogether and use a 1/2tsp of strawberry extract and some pink food coloring instead. But - I can’t speak to how well this will turn out because I haven’t tried it! If you try it please let me know.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F and goop-up your cake pan(s).

  2. Beat your stick of butter, 200g sugar (1c) and 1.5oz strawberry jello on medium high for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.

  3. Add 2 eggs, mixing until fully combined after each.

  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together 165g AP flour (1.33c), 1.25tsp BP, and 1/8tsp salt.

  5. In another bowl, whisk together 1/2c whole milk and 1.5tsp vanilla.

  6. To your stand mixer bowl, add 1/3 of the dry mixture and mix on low until no flour traces remain, then add 1/2 of the wet mixture and mix on low until fully combined. Repeat twice then finish with the last of the dry ingredients.

  7. Add 1/4 cups strawberry jam and mix on medium until combined.

  8. Distribute evenly between your cake pans either by scooping equal amounts with measuring cups, or by weighing the pans.

  9. Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate the pans in oven. If you’re using two cake pans start checking after 5 more minutes; if one, after 10 more minutes. Bake until a tester in the center comes out clean, and/or using my tips on HOW TO TELL WHEN MY CAKE LAYERS ARE DONE.

  10. Let the cakes cool in their pans for 10-15 minutes before turning them out. Let them cool completely before using or storing in the freezer.

  11. If storing to use at a later time, chill them in the freezer until they can be handled easily without bending. Wrap them in plastic wrap and then tin foil. Label & freeze.

  12. If using them imminently, chill them in the fridge so they will be easier to level. If you've used one cake pan, make sure to level before you slice the layer in half to form two.

VANILLA & STRAWBERRY FROSTINGS

INGREDIENTS/SUPPLIES

  • 5 sticks butter, room temperature

  • 320g Marshmallow Fluff (~3.33 cups)

  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

  • 2 Tablespoons vanilla (clear if you can find it, but not imitation)

  • Pinch salt

  • .5-1 ounce strawberry jello powder

  • 1/4 cup seedless strawberry jam (mixed until smooth)

  • Pink food color

  • Stand mixer w. beater attachment

  • Silicone spatula w. extra butter or shortening*

*A tip to more easily scoop & add fluff - use a silicone spatula and grease it before using - the Fluff will fall right off!

DIRECTIONS

  1. Beat 5 sticks butter and 320g fluff on medium-high 4-5 minutes until completely smooth and fluffy.

  2. Add 4-5 cups powdered sugar - start by adding 2 cups (mix on very low to start or it will explode everywhere!), then add 1 cup, mix and add 1 cup more, then add in 1/4 cup increments to taste. Mix on high until completely smooth and fluffy.

  3. Add 1/4 cup heavy cream, 2TB vanilla, and a pinch of salt.

At this point you’ll be using about 1.5-2 cups of the mixture for the filling for the cake. After you’ve used that much, you’ll continue to turn the frosting into strawberry.

  1. Add .5 ounces strawberry jello powder and mix on high about 10-15 seconds. Check to make sure it’s not too gritty for you, then add more if you’d like - to taste, up to 1 ounce. (See the note above in the ingredients section of the Strawberry Cake recipe if you want to avoid using gelatin).

  2. Add 1/4 cup seedless strawberry jam, and mix on high until combined.

  3. Add pink food color until you achieve the color you desire!

PUT IT ALL TOGETHER!

ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS/SUPPLIES

  • 3/4 cup seedless strawberry jam (mixed until smooth)

  • Bread knife

  • Turn table

  • Cake board or carrier base

  • Offset spatula

  • Piping bags/tips and decorations as desired

DIRECTIONS

  1. If you used two cake pans for each recipe, start by leveling your cake layers: http://www.seriouseats.com/2017/05/how-to-level-a-cake.html. If you only used one for each, level them and then use the same technique to cut each layer into two.

  2. Spread about a tablespoon of frosting in three triangular dollops on the center of your board or plate, then place your first chocolate cake layer centered on top. Press down gently to make it stick with the frosting as glue.

  3. Spread half of your strawberry jam evenly over the chocolate cake layer.

  4. Place your first strawberry layer on top of the jam on the chocolate layer.

  5. Spread about 1.5-2 cups of the vanilla frosting evenly on top of the strawberry layer - enough so that the thickness of the frosting layer is almost equivalent to the thickness of your cake layers.

  6. Repeat placing your second chocolate layer, covering with the rest of the jam, and placing your second strawberry layer.

  7. Place in the fridge while you turn the rest of the vanilla frosting into strawberry frosting, using the instructions above.

  8. Crumb coat the cake with the strawberry frosting, then return to the fridge to chill for 20 minutes. Don’t know what that means? Check it! http://bravetart.com/blog/CrumbCoat

  9. Coat the whole cake with a thick layer of frosting, and decorate as desired!

The cake will keep up to 48 hours in *cool* room temperature conditions, up to 5 days in a covered container in the fridge, or up to 3 months in a box/container in the freezer that is well-wrapped with two layers of plastic wrap and one layer of aluminum foil.

custom desserts

sarah@thesweeteryboston.com

boston, massachusetts

© 2014 by Sarah Cohan