Learn how to make a Neapolitan layered pound cake with distinct chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla layers, and topped with classic vanilla frosting. Originally published October 2019. Last updated August 2022.
My mom cooked a lot of different things during our childhood years. But she was known for a few dishes, in particular, that she was often called on to make for holiday parties, my dad's office potlucks, and family gatherings. One of her signature dishes was a three-layer Neapolitan cake with vanilla frosting. She passed away at the beginning of this year and hadn't made the cake for years before then but people still mention it. It was that good. Today, I'm putting an easy twist on her signature cake with new recipe for Neapolitan layered pound cake. It bakes up in one pan instead of three and is full of true chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla flavors. Let's get into it.
If you nostalgic family recipes, check these out, too!
First, what is a Pound Cake?
A pound cake is a staple dessert in most every southern household. It's called such because of the weight of the main ingredients required to make it. Easy to remember, right? Pound cake recipes call for one pound each of eggs, butter, sugar, and flour. And that is where the classic, dense texture comes from. Aside from the basics, you can flavor a pound cake just about any kind of way. In fact, I have a collection of flavored pound cake recipes for you.
What You'll Need for this Recipe
- Cocoa Powder
- Freeze Dried Strawberries
- Granulated Sugar
- Sea Salt
- Red Food Coloring (optional)
- Unsalted Butter
- Vanilla Extract
Tools you'll need to make a three flavor pound cake include a non-stick bundt pan and either a stand mixer or a hand mixer. I also recommend grabbing a cooling rack to bring the cake to room temperature after it's done baking. Lastly, you need to have either a blender, food processor, or perhaps a mortar and pestle to grind up the freeze-dried strawberries.
How to Make Neapolitan Cake
Neapolitan cake consists of three distinct layers: chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla. Sometimes the layers are marbled. To make the beautiful layers of this Neapolitan pound cake, whip up the batter for a basic vanilla pound cake then divide it into three parts and flavor them with chocolate, strawberry, and more vanilla.
For the strawberry flavor, I pulsed freeze-dried strawberries in my blender for a bit then mixed the powder into one third of the batter. This is the same trick that lends fresh strawberry flavor to my strawberry cream pound cake. Cocoa powder provides the flavor for the chocolate batter. And for vanilla, an extra dose of vanilla extract. These batters then get layered into a bundt pan for the perfect finished product you see here. If you don't have a bundt pan on hand, pound cake is also commonly made in a loaf or tube (angel food) pan.
The finished cake is pure perfection. All the flavors come through and don't the layers look so pretty? I hope you'll bake this layered Neapolitan pound cake soon. Sharing is caring so be sure to pin this unique pound cake recipe for later and follow me over on Pinterest. 🙂 Thanks for reading!
Neapolitan Bundt Cake Recipe
Classic dense, moist pound cake with distinct chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla layers
- 1 pound unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 6 eggs
- ¾ cup milk
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract divided
- 4 cups flour
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
- 1.5 ounces freeze dried strawberries crushed into powder
- 6 drops red food coloring optional
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt or tube (angel food cake) pan and set aside.
Cream butter in a mixer or food processor until smooth and a slightly lighter shade of yellow. Add eggs, sugar, extract, and milk and continue mixing until uniform.
In another bowl, mix flour and sea salt. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture and beat until uniform and smooth. It may be necessary to hand stir a couple of times in order to ensure no pockets of flour remain.
Divide batter evenly into three bowls. To one bowl, mix in remaining teaspoon of vanilla extract. To another bowl, mix in freeze dried strawberries and red food coloring. To the other bowl, mix in cocoa powder.
Spread each batter, one at a time, into prepared bundt pan. Bake on middle rack of oven for about an hour and 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into multiple sections of the cake comes out clean.
Meanwhile, to make the frosting, beat powdered sugar and butter together. Add in milk and vanilla extract and continue mixing until fluffy and smooth. Frosting should be thick but not stiff.
Remove cake from pan. Cool completely then spoon frosting over top and allow to drip down sides of cake.