Neapolitan Marble Cake. One batter, three incredibly delicious flavors. Because sometimes you want a little chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry and this beautiful marble cake features all three! Tender, moist vanilla cake with swirls of chocolate and strawberry cake. Fancy looking yet surprisingly easy to make, everyone loves this soft, fluffy marble cake!
If there’s any cake I love making, it’s a marble cake. Seriously what’s not to love about a cake with a cool design and two, in this case three(!), delicious flavors! The “fancy” design might make you think it’s hard to make but it’s super simple.
If you love marble cakes and are a fan of molasses and warm spices, check out my yummy Molasses Marble Cake! I tend to go for molasses more in the fall and holiday time, but for sure go for vanilla, chocolate and strawberry literally all year long!
This Neapolitan Cake recipe features:
- A soft, moist crumb: It’s made with buttermilk which gives its delicious, tender texture.
- Vanilla: The base of the cake is a delicious vanilla cake batter.
- Chocolate: No need to chop chocolate, just mix a bit of cocoa with some oil or melted butter, mix it with the base batter and you have your chocolate swirl.
- Strawberry: Fresh strawberries and strawberry jam add some fresh, in season sweetness!
- Swirls: A simple table knife mixes all three flavors and colors together!
ABOUT THE MARBLE CAKE BATTER
As mentioned, you only need to make one batter for this cake which is a vanilla cake batter. That batter gets divided into three bowls. Keep one bowl vanilla then add cocoa to one bowl and strawberries to the remaining bowl.
FOR THE VANILLA BATTER: Just leave 1/3 of batter as is.
FOR THE CHOCOLATE BATTER: To the third portion of batter, you’ll stir in some cocoa powder that’s been mixed with with canola oil.
FOR THE STRAWBERRY BATTER: Stir in 1/2 cup lightly pureed strawberries. Lightly pureed meaning just lightly pulse them in a food processor or blender. Lightly pureed will give you nice little specks of strawberries throughout the cake. Strawberry jam will give batter a little bit of color and more strawberry sweetness and flavor.
Strawberries have to be my favorite fruit to bake with in the summertime. If you’re with me, definitely add my Roasted Strawberry Crumb Bars to your baking list!
ADDING FOOD COLORING TO THE STRAWBERRY LAYER
This cake is called a Neapolitan cake because of the three different flavors. I left my strawberry batter natural which gives the cake little hints of pink color and little bits of berries.
If you want more of a pink/classic Neapolitan color, just stir in a few drops of pink or red food coloring to the strawberry batter. Start with one or two drops and stir together. Add another drop if you want a deeper color.
HOW TO MARBLE YOUR CAKE
Once you have your three batters, use a tablespoon to drop the batter into a checkerboard patter. You’ll have enough batter to make two layers of the checkerboard pattern. For the second layer, be sure to drop different color batter on top of the existing colors.
Use a table knife to swirl from side to side down the length of the pan. Rotate the pan a quarter turn and, with a clean knife, swirl again. Definitely resist the urge to keep swirling so that the flavors don’t mix together too much. Less is more here.
SWIRLS AND MORE SWIRLS
Swirling the flavors together is definitely my favorite part of making this cake. If you love the look and taste of swirled desserts, definitely try my aptly named Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies or my Tahini Brownies filled with lots of creamy, rich tahini-chocolate swirls!
Pop your cake into a 350 degree oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. You’ll want to rotate your pan halfway through baking to ensure even baking. Let the cake cool in the pan for about ten minutes and then transfer to a baking rack to cool completely.
THE FINAL PRODUCT
Ta-daaaa! It’s pretty too to pull your cake out of the oven and see the pretty designs the cake baked into. It’s also fun to cut into the cake to reveal the swirls inside. The best part though is, of course, eating it!
Top this Neapolitan Marble Cake with icing or leave it plain. If you want icing but don’t want to cover up all the pretty swirls on top, you can simply drizzle some icing rather than coating the entire top.
Hopefully I’ve convinced you to make this super delicious Neapolitan Marble Cake! The only thing you’ll need to decide is whether to make it for breakfast, dinner or as a snacking cake. I vote for all of the above. It’s got the best fluffy, moist texture and all the flavors. Cannot wait for you to make it!
Neapolitan Marble Cake
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 3 ⁄4 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2/3 cup buttermilk room temperature
- 1 ⁄4cup cocoa powder preferably Dutch processed
- 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil or melted butter
- 1/2 cup strawberries lightly pureed
- 1 1/2 tablespoons strawberry jam
- a few drops of pink or red food coloring optional
- FOR THE ICING
- 3 tablespoons butter room temperature
- 1/4 cup cream cheese room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar sifted
- 3 teaspoons milk
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan, line it with parchment paper leaving excess paper hanging over the sides along the length of the pan and butter the parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk to combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl using a hand held mixer), beat the butter and sugar 4-5 minutes, til light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until combined then add the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go. Add flour alternatively with the buttermilk. Divide the batter into thirds.
- In a small bowl, mix the cocoa and canola oil until smooth. Add the cocoa mixture to one of the three bowls of cake batter and stir til combined. To another bowl of batter, stir in the pureed strawberries and jam. Add a couple of drops of food coloring (if desired) until desired color is achieved.
- Spoon the three batters into three alternating spoonfuls (vanilla, chocolate strawberry) across the prepared pan. It should look like a checkerboard. Place different color batters on top of the existing batter to create a second layer of batter.
- To marble the cake, use a knife or skewer to run swirls from side to side and top to bottom. Turn the pan and swirl the knife through the batter one more time. Avoid over swirling.
- Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until a cake tester comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Transfer pan to a rack to cool 10 minutes. Turn out cake from pan and cool completely on the rack.
FOR THE OPTIONAL ICING
- Blend the butter and cream cheese in a bowl. Beat in the vanilla and add the powdered sugar a bit at a time. Add the milk and blend until smooth. Drizzle or pour over cake.