Close up photo of Vegan Neapolitan Cake

Vegan Neapolitan Cake (GF-Option)

This Vegan Neapolitan Cake is a delicious showstopper with a chocolate sponge, a strawberry sponge and a vanilla sponge all with matching flavoured buttercream.

To celebrate the start of Wimbledon, I was challenged to create a summertime showstopper to share with friends and family. After recently sharing the best Gluten-Free Vegan Victoria Sponge Cake and my favourite Black Forest Gateau, I thought it would be fun to turn the best ice cream flavour into a cake. Combine chocolate, strawberry and vanilla and you have something magical. Team each layer of sponge with matching fluffy vegan buttercream all filled with berry jam and you have a cake that is easy to make but special enough to hold centre stage.

Vegan Neapolitan Cake on a glass cake stand
Vegan Neapolitan Cake

Why will I love this Vegan Neapolitan Cake?

This cake is really special, it’s:

  • Delicious, light, fluffy and tender
  • Moist, rich, chocolatey and berry-licious
  • Easy to make in one main bowl before separating into three flavours
  • Naturally vegan and easily gluten-free
  • Made with easy-to-find every day ingredients
  • Fun to decorate and make with friends and little ones
  • Great to bring to parties and gatherings

If you already love this cake, then skip ahead to the recipe card below. Or, first let’s discuss the recipe in more detail.

A half eaten Vegan Neapolitan Cake
Vegan Neapolitan Cake

What ingredients will I need?

The base for all three of the cakes is the same and then we flavour them right at the end before baking:

  • Plant-based milk: use your favourite dairy-free milk like oat, almond, coconut or soya milk.
  • Lemon juice or apple cider vinegar: both work to create a vegan buttermilk which helps to bind the cake batter.
  • Caster sugar: for sweetness. Don’t be tempted to reduce the sugar as this creates the lovely and light texture within the sponges. You could try swapping this for coconut sugar.
  • Sunflower oil: or a light olive oil will also work. The texture of this sponge is moist and light thanks to the liquid nature of sunflower oil so I recommend sticking to sunflower or olive oil.
  • Vanilla essence: for flavour.
  • Self-raising flour: for the rise and light airy texture. If this cake needs to be gluten-free, use your preferred 1:1 GF baking blend with xanthan gum.
  • Bicarbonate of soda and salt: for more rise and flavour.
  • Freeze dried strawberry powder, strawberry essence and pink food gel: for the strawberry layer. I have a delicious freeze-dried powder from Arctic Berries or you can find freeze-dried strawberries and blend them into a fine powder and this adds colour and flavour. As for the essence this is purely for flavour and adds a lot of flavour for just a small amount. If you can only find raspberry essence, this is also fine. Finally, the pink food gel is for colour alone. You can make this cake without it but the strawberry sponge will be less pink. I recommend food gel over liquid colours as they are thicker, more concentrated and you need much less of them.
  • Cocoa powder: for the chocolate sponge layer. You can use cacao or cocoa powder here and make sure you mix it in well.
Taking a slice out of a Vegan Neapolitan Cake
Vegan Neapolitan Cake

As for the buttercream and the filling, we need:

  • Vegan butter: always make sure your butter is softened slightly before making buttercream as this ensures the fluffiest and best textured frosting. This is the block kind of butter as opposed to the spreadable kind and my favourite brands are Naturli or Flora Plant-Based.
  • Icing sugar: essential for most buttercream frostings.
  • Aquafaba or plant-based milk: I always prefer to use aquafaba (the water from a tin of chickpeas) where I can as when it is whipped up it behaves like egg white and adds volume and fluffiness to the buttercream. That said, you can simply use dairy-free milk.
  • Vanilla essence: for flavour.
  • Freeze dried strawberry powder, strawberry essence and pink food gel: for the strawberry layer and these work in the same ways as above.
  • Cocoa powder: for the chocolate buttercream to add chocolate flavour and colour.
  • Strawberry jam: for the middle of the layers.

Finally, to decorate this Vegan Neapolitan Cake:

  • Fresh strawberries: I like to add some on top but this is not essential.
  • Fresh mint: for the colour and flavour contrast with the berries but again this is not essential.

How do I make this showstopper cake?

This cake is actually easier to make than you think:

  • Make the base cake mixture by whisking together the wet ingredients: until smooth.
  • Sift in the dry ingredients: and whisk again till smooth.
  • Divide the batter into 3 smaller bowls: one for each sponge layer.
  • Add all the strawberry components to one bowl: for the strawberry cake.
  • Add the cocoa powder to a second bowl: for the chocolate cake.
  • Leave one batter plain: this is the vanilla sponge.
  • Pour each cake batter in its own cake tin: I use three 6-inch loose-bottomed cake tins for this showstopper.
  • Bake for 22 to 24 minutes: until golden brown, risen and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  • Cool full before decorating: firstly, in the tins for 10 minutes then lift out the tins and cool on a wire rack.
  • Make the buttercream base mix: by beating together the butter, icing sugar, aquafaba and vanilla.
  • Take 1/5 of the mix and add all the strawberry components: for the strawberry buttercream.
  • Take 1/5 of the mix and add the cocoa powder: for the chocolate buttercream.
  • Leave 3/5 of buttercream plain vanilla: for the vanilla buttercream top and inside the sponge layers.
  • Assemble the cake: place the chocolate cake on a plate and top with some vanilla buttercream.
  • Fill the middle with jam and top with the strawberry sponge: repeat to add some vanilla buttercream and jam.
  • Top with the vanilla sponge cake: and fill in any gaps round the sides with buttercream.
  • Work the chocolate buttercream around the chocolate sponge: using a spatula to make swirl patterns.
  • Swirl the strawberry buttercream over the strawberry sponge: blending it into the chocolate buttercream.
  • Top the cake with the vanilla buttercream: around the vanilla sponge and the top of the cake.
  • Swirl together the buttercreams: so they look pretty but not perfect.
  • Decorate the cake and slice: serving to friends and family.
An upright slice of Vegan Neapolitan Cake
Vegan Neapolitan Cake

Is this cake gluten-free and nut-free?

To make this cake gluten-free, use your preferred gluten-free self-raising flour that contains xanthan gum. This cake is naturally nut-free just check that your plant-based milk and butter do not contain nuts.

How long will this cake keep?

Store this cake in the fridge for 3-5 days in a sealed container but best enjoyed at room temperature so allow the cake to sit for 20 minutes outside of the fridge. You can also freeze the sponge layers, wrapped well for up to 1 month. Allow to thaw and decorate as above.

A slice of Vegan Neapolitan Cake on a small palte
Vegan Neapolitan Cake

I love this cake, what else can I make?

I hope you are going to love making and eating this Vegan Neapolitan Cake and for more showstopper cakes, how about my:

Vegan Neapolitan Cake (GF-Option)

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This Vegan Neapolitan Cake is a delicious showstopper with a chocolate sponge, a strawberry sponge and a vanilla sponge all with matching flavoured buttercream.

Ingredients

    Ingredients: For the Sponge Cake:
  • 360ml plant-based milk
  • 1 ½ tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 120ml sunflower oil
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 315g self-raising flour
  • ¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp freeze-dried strawberry powder
  • ½ tsp strawberry essence
  • A drop of pink food gel
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • For the Buttercream Filling:
  • 250g vegan butter, softened
  • 500g icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp aquafaba or plant-based milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tbsp freeze-dried strawberry powder
  • ¼ tsp strawberry essence
  • A drop of pink food gel
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2-4 tbsp strawberry jam
  • To Decorate:
  • Fresh strawberries
  • Fresh mint

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 160Fan/180*C and line three 6-inch cake tins with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the plant-based milk and lemon juice and let it sit and curdle for 5 minutes. Now whisk in the sugar, oil and vanilla.
  3. Sift in the flour and bicarbonate of soda and add the salt. Whisk to a smooth batter with no specks of flour.
  4. Divide the batter equally between three bowls. To the first bowl, add the strawberry powder, strawberry essence and pink food gel and whisk to combine. To the second bowl, add the cocoa powder and whisk till smooth. Leave the third bowl vanilla.
  5. Pour each batter into a cake tin and smooth over the top. Bake for 22-24 minutes, until risen and golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  6. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin then lift out carefully and cool fully on a wire rack. Place in the fridge before icing.
  7. For the buttercream, add the softened butter to a large bowl of a freestanding mixer or electric handheld mixer and beat for 1-2 minutes till smooth. Now gradually beat in the icing sugar, vanilla essence and aquafaba, and continue to mix for 2-3 minutes till really fluffy.
  8. Take 1/5 (approx. 150g) of the buttercream and place in a small bowl. Stir in the strawberry powder, essence and pink food gel and mix to combine. Take another 1/5 (approx. 150g) of the buttercream and place in a small bowl with the cocoa powder and mix till smooth, adding a splash of aquafaba or milk, if needed. Leave the remaining buttercream vanilla, and place half of this in a piping bag.
  9. If the cakes had domed, slice off the tops so they are level. Place the chocolate sponge on a serving plate and pipe on some vanilla buttercream. Smooth over with a palette knife, making an indent in the middle. Fill this with some jam.
  10. Place the strawberry sponge on top and repeat with buttercream and jam. Top with the vanilla sponge. Now, fill in any gaps round the sides with vanilla buttercream before swirling on the chocolate buttercream over the chocolate sponge, the strawberry buttercream over the strawberry sponge and the vanilla over the sides of the vanilla sponge and over the top, too.
  11. Decorate with strawberries and mint and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes to set the buttercream. Use a sharp knife to slice and enjoy straight away. Keep the cake in the fridge, covered well for up to 3-5 days.
  12. Unfrosted cakes can be kept in the freezer, wrapped well, for up to 1 month., Allow to thaw before decorating as above.
Close up photo of Vegan Neapolitan Cake
Vegan Neapolitan Cake

I look forward to hearing what you think of this Vegan Neapolitan Cake and if you do make it, I’d love to see your creations so please tag me – I’m @nourishing.amy on Instagram and use the hashtag #nourishingamy. I’m also on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest  – please say hello!

With Neapolitan cake love x

p.s. this recipe was originally sponsored by Tala but this blog post is not sponsored, I simply love this recipe and wanted to share it online, too! I love the Tala range of bakeware and cookware and all opinions are my own.

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