Cakes

Neapolitan Decadence Cake

It’s here! The end of summer is truly upon us. I move into my new college this week (!!) and while shopping for school supplies and fall clothes is always a treat, I’m doing my best to savor summer until the last second.

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Today’s recipe is utterly decadent, as its name suggests. Four layers of alternating rich chocolate and light vanilla cake, filled with sweet strawberry buttercream, and frosted with vanilla buttercream, a chocolate ganache drip, and chocolate covered strawberries. Plus, how could I forget the whipped ganache border piped around the base? This cake is a bit of an endeavor, and is best split between two days of kitchen-time, but boy, is it worth it.

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All of the separate elements of this cake put together are what make it so special. Sure, you could quickly whip up a chocolate or vanilla cake, but the showstopping element of the trio of neapolitan flavors – chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry – is what takes it to the next level.

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The ganache drip is something I’ve only worked with once before, but has proven once again to be a game-changer. The simple combination of heavy cream and semisweet or bittersweet chocolate is easy to pour over the top of any cake, and adds a layer of drama that no piping can achieve.

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You may know that I usually make my strawberry buttercream using dehydrated strawberries from this recipe. But I didn’t have any in the house, so I decided to see how jam would work. I was so pleasantly surprised. A bit of strawberry jam gave the frosting a light pink hue and a delicate strawberry flavor – exactly what this cake needed. Frosted and stacked, it tied the cake’s contrasting flavors together perfectly.

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So, use up those last summer strawberries and indulge before autumn!

xx

Juliet

Neapolitan Decadence Cake 

Prep time: 2 hours

Cook time: 1 hour

Yield: One 3-layer, 8-inch cake

Ingredients

For the vanilla cake

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I used almond milk with a teaspoon of lemon juice to curdle it)

For the chocolate cake

Recipe from La Pêche Fraiche

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

For the strawberry buttercream

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup strawberry jam or preserves
  • pinch of salt

For the vanilla buttercream

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt

For the ganache drip, whipped ganache border, and decorations

  • 4 ounces (1 standard bar) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream, reserve another 2/3 cup heavy cream for piping
  • 8 fresh strawberries

To bake

Vanilla cake

  1. Preheat your oven to 350*F, and grease two 8-inch round cake pans. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Reduce the speed to low and add in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Beat on high speed for one minute.
  3. On low speed, add in your dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk. Beat until just combined. Distribute the batter evenly between your two prepared pans, and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes before popping the cakes out of their pans to cool fully.

Chocolate cake

  1. Preheat your oven to 350*F, and grease two 8-inch round cake pans. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, salt, and egg until well combined.
  2. In a separate small bowl, combine the hot water with the vanilla and cocoa powder, stirring until the cocoa has dissolved fully. Pour into the egg mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.
  3. With a rubber spatula, fold in the flour and baking soda until combined, and distribute the batter evenly between your two prepared pans. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes before popping the cakes out of their pans to cool fully.

Strawberry buttercream

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter on high speed for 1 minute. Add in the powdered sugar one cup at a time on low speed, then pour in the vanilla and spoon in the jam and salt. Increase the speed and beat on high for 3 minutes or until fluffy. To thicken, add more powdered sugar, and to thin, add a splash of heavy cream or milk.

Vanilla buttercream

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter on high speed for 1 minute. Add in the powdered sugar one cup at a time on low speed, then pour in the vanilla and salt. Increase the speed and beat on high for 3 minutes or until fluffy. To thicken, add more powdered sugar, and to thin, add a splash of heavy cream or milk.

Chocolate ganache

  1. In a double boiler (or a small saucepan filled with 2 inches of water with a heat-proof bowl on top), heat the chopped chocolate and 2/3 cup heavy cream on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the chocolate is fully melted.
  2. While the chocolate is melting, lay out a sheet of parchment paper with your fresh strawberries. Dip each strawberry into the chocolate, twisting it to ensure you’ve covered it fully, then lay it to dry on the parchment paper.
  3. Add another 2/3 cup heavy cream to half of the leftover ganache, and whisk vigorously until the mixture is lighter in color and a pipe-able consistency. Place it in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes before piping.
  4. Reserve the last 1/2 of ganache for your drip!

Assembly

  1. Once all of the cake layers have cooled, begin by placing one chocolate layer on your cake board or serving plate. Top the layer with strawberry buttercream, then stack on a vanilla layer. Repeat with remaining cake layers and the rest of the strawberry frosting. Let the cake chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  2. Frost the stacked cake with the vanilla buttercream and chill for another 15 minutes. pour the reserved ganache on top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, allow it to drip off the sides. Place the chocolate strawberries around the top border of the cake.
  3. Spoon the pipe-able ganache into a piping bag and frost a border around the bottom of the cake. Chill at least 20 minutes before serving, and enjoy!

 

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