Friday, July 11, 2014

Neapolitan celebration cakes part I - fresh strawberry layer cake

fresh strawberry layer cake vegan

There’s no feeling quite like knowing that there is a celebration coming up which requires cake. Part of my overly-enthusiastic love for Christmas is the quantity of dessert it requires me, the resident pastry chef, to make for various gatherings and parties. You should’ve seen the cakes I spammed my Facebook friends with last year.

Or maybe not. Secondary sugar rush is a serious thing.

I am also happy to make desserts for any other occasion conceivable (trust me—there is no low I won’t sink to if it means I get to make cake); I’ve made cakes for neighbors and schoolteachers and the pseudo-“tea parties” my friends and I would have (and given that we are all avid tea drinkers, it is quite fitting).

So imagine how thrilled I was to hear that, this weekend, my family would be celebrating our grandparent’s fiftieth wedding anniversary. Yes. Fiftieth. Which calls for a huge party. Which in turn calls for a shit ton of cake. 

i am so excited i may vomit friends gif
And this is before I even hit the buttercream. source

It should come as no surprise that I immediately started pestering my mother about how we certainly didn’t need to order a boring old cake from the catering company when Baby June could make cakes from scratch, with maximum customizability and minimum fondant and all that good stuff (also cheap). My pestering having succeeded, I set out to find the best cake flavor for this important occasion.

Then I remembered how our grandmother always bought Neapolitan ice cream when we came to visit (nostalgia: check), and thought of how strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla of Neapolitan ice cream cartons would divide up perfectly among three separate layer cakes, and realized that maximize the time I spent baking, which in my opinion is a total score. The obvious choice.

strawberry layer cake fresh berries no box mix or jello
So smart.

According to Wikipedia, the Neapolitan ice cream we know today originated around the 19th century, when immigrants from Naples, Italy brought their expertise in frozen desserts to the United States. Apparently they came up with this thing where strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla ice cream were molded together to look like the Italian flag.

neapolitan ice cream flavors
Woah... source

Who woulda thunk? source

Or it could just be that those were the three most popular ice cream flavors in the US at the time, and I presume they still are (although I would say those are now more the fodder of the peasantry, since who would choose those pedestrian flavors when you could have this or this?).

And frankly, I agree with this guy on most counts. I quote—

“Dear people who like Neapolitan ice cream: You like horrible things.”

Yeah. I’ll take a bowl of caramelized banana brown butter pecan ice cream over that flavor mashup any day.

Don’t tell my gramma that though.


vegan fresh strawberry layer cake
*Theatrical pause*

This is cake.

This is no sad dish of ice cream; this is a luscious, fluffy, buttery cake covered in sweet frosting and filled with fresh strawberries. This is joy. This is love. This is everything I have ever dreamed of, on a plate. And this is only the first part of three.

Yeah. About that. I prepared and photographed all three cakes the night before the party (thus the piss-poor lighting) and ended up sampling them during the party itself. Meaning I didn’t get any nice artsy shots of the cakes’ interiors. But you can count on the reviews of those who enjoyed the cakes at the party—people who, if I do might so myself, thoroughly enjoyed the homemade dessert (I brought some of those confetti cookies too). This particular cake was probably my second favorite, after the vanilla (coming soon to a blog near you!). It was very moist and dense, but not gummy, and the frosting was just perfect—although the strawberry flavor is not as intense as in a boxed mix, which uses powdered strawberries and artificial flavor and all that weird shit. Not here. This is all-natural.

Okay besides the Earth Balance.

Here’s the recipe.


Strawberry cake
Adapted from Baker Bettie


168 grams • bananas, mashed • ¾ cup

122 grams • nondairy milk • ½ cup

174 grams • strawberry puree • ¾ cup

6 grams • vanilla extract • 1 ½ teaspoons

2 grams • almond extract • ½ teaspoon

274 grams • cake flour • 2 cups

8 grams • baking powder • 2 teaspoons

3 grams • salt • ½ teaspoon

250 grams • granulated sugar • 1 ¼ cups

150 grams • nondairy buttery spread, softened • 2/3 cup


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and greased two 8-inch cake pans.

In a small bowl, whisk together bananas, milk, strawberry puree, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low, add buttery spread one piece at a time, mixing until it looks somewhat sandy, but not doughy.

Add about half the wet mixture and mix on low speed until combined; then, increase to medium-high and beat until lightened in color and fluffy.

With mixture on low speed, slowing add remaining wet mixture until incorporated. The batter may look a little curdled, and that’s okay. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and baked for 23 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cakes sit for ten minutes before removing from pan onto a wire rack. Let cool completely before frosting.


Strawberry frosting

Adapted from Leafy Cauldron


40 grams • strawberries, chopped • ¼ cup

170 grams • nondairy buttery spread, softened • ¾ cups

500 grams • powdered sugar • 4 cups plus 2 tablespoons

6 grams • vanilla extract • ½ tablespoon

15 to 30 grams • nondairy milk • 1 to 2 tablespoons


Blend strawberries in a blender until no large chunks remain. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Place nondairy buttery spread in the bowl of an electric stand mixer and beat until light and fluffy, about 6 or 7 minutes. Add a half cup of powdered sugar and mix until combined. Add vanilla and a bit more powdered sugar and combine once again. Pour in strawberry puree and remaining powdered sugar and beat until thoroughly combined and fluffy.

vegan fresh strawberry layer cake with strawberry buttercream
Why does the cake look like it's floating? No idea.

And do you see those little dots of frosting? Yeah. That’s real profesh decorating skill right there. You can thank my fancy pants new tips for that.

Tomorrow, there shall be more cake. Gluten-free cake, to be specific.


  1. This looks fantastic June! I can only imagine your little cake-workshop at home, and I bet you got to use your new fancy cake making things, right?
    I think you put a great deal of effort into the choice of flavour too, so thoughtful :D And now, I wish I could invite you over, which would be another excuse to rattle up a cake, and then I could be in charge of brewing the tea :P Hope you're having a great weekend miss! Looking forward to part two and three! x

    1. Thanks! Glad you like it! It was like a cake workshop, for the entire day. :) Got to use my new offset spatula too! :D

    2. Sounds like so much fun! If only we could do it for a living hey? ;) x

  2. This looks like a wonderful cake - the color is just so very pretty and the cake recipe sounds absolutely wonderful!