Neapolitan Rose Cake

I am very proud of this cake but looking at it will always tear on my heart strings just a little. Last year my husband lost one of his grandmothers and it was the first close death that either of us had ever experienced. I will never forget understanding that grief could feel heavy just as if you were wearing it like a blanket. She passed away in January and when her birthday came up in April, we wanted to do something to help us celebrate her life.

My son had a really hard time grasping the concept of never being able to talk to her again. He asked us if he could make her a birthday card and then attach it to some balloons so she could reach it in heaven. We all thought it was a beautiful idea and came together to remember her on her special day. We went to a park, said a prayer for Grandma Jessie, and sent off some balloons with Mason’s card attached.
When we got back home we shared this cake. My husband told me that his grandma loved Neapolitan ice cream and that she always left one flavor in the container and ate her favorites. While making this I couldn’t help but be hit with so many memories. Meeting her for the first time and her showing me around her beautiful garden, her bringing me flowers on my very first Mother’s Day and her kissing my sons tiny fingers. Thyler scaring her in the grocery store by pretending to steal her purse, she was so feisty and would try to sock him.

I remembered her letters, I wrote to her on Mother’s Day, her birthday, and around Christmas. No matter what the card said she always included a hand written note. I am so thankful that I saved every single one. The cake was beautiful, her favorite flavors, covered in roses that will always remind me of where she was happiest. Beautiful, just like her.

Neapolitan Rose Cake

Ingredients

  • Chocolate Batter:
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (4 oz.) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup boiling water or very hot coffee
  • Yellow Cake:
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (6 oz.) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened -- but still cool (not melted at all)
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
  • Strawberry Cake:
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (6 oz.) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened but still cool (not melted or partially melted)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dry strawberry Jell-O
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon strawberry extract (optional)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
  • Chocolate Frosting:
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 2 - 2/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla
  • Vanilla Frosting:
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • Strawberry Frosting:
  • 1 heaping cup strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon milk or cream

Instructions

  1. Have ready 3 greased and floured 9 inch round cake pans.
  2. Prepare the chocolate cake first. In a mixing bowl, stir together flour through cocoa powder. Add the oil, milk, egg, vanilla and stir until well mixed. Stir in the boiling water or coffee. Beat with an electric mixer for about 30 to 60 seconds or until smooth, then pour into the pan. Bake for about 30 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a rack and let cool completely.
  3. While chocolate cake bakes, wash out the mixing bowl and beaters and start preparing the other two batters. Try to time it so they’re ready to go in the oven a little after the chocolate cake is ready. You don't want to let the batters sit too long.
  4. For each of the two batters, measure out the flour, baking powder and salt in separate bowls. Set aside
  5. Working with two mixing bowls, put the butter and sugar for each batter in a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar in each bowl. Add one egg to each bowl and beat until light and fluffy, then add the flavorings. To one bowl, beat in the vanilla. To the other, beat in the strawberry Jell-O, and both extracts.
  6. With a big spoon or a heavy duty scraper, add the flour and milk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour, to the yellow batter and mix by hand until smooth. Batter will be thick. Repeat procedure with the strawberry batter.
  7. Put the batter into two cake pans and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert and let cool completely.
  8. To assemble, frost and stack the cakes so that the chocolate is on the bottom, vanilla is in the center and strawberry is on top
  9. Chocolate Frosting:
  10. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over low heat. Add the cocoa, stir until the mixture is smooth and thick. Remove the pan from the heat and place the coca mixture into a medium size bowl. Let it cool slightly.
  11. Add the milk and vanilla alternately with the powdered sugar to the bowl until you have the spreading consistency you desire.
  12. Vanilla Frosting:
  13. In a small bowl, beat together butter, sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt until light and fluffy.
  14. Strawberry Frosting:
  15. Place strawberries and lemon juice in a food processor and process until smooth.
  16. Place puree in a small saucepan. Over medium heat, bring mixture to a simmer, stirring often. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until you have about ⅓ cup of strawberry puree mixture. Remove from heat.
  17. If you don't want seeds or skins in your buttercream, strain the strawberry puree through a fine mesh strainer at this point. (I do not strain mine.) Allow to cool to room temperature
  18. In a large mixing bowl, add butter and strawberry puree. Beat together with a mixer until mixture is smooth.
  19. Add in the powdered sugar, and beat on medium-high until mixture is smooth and creamy.
  20. Add your milk or cream and vanilla and beat again to combine. Test your buttercream now. If it's still too thick, continue adding milk or cream, 1 tablespoon at a time until buttercream reaches desired consistency.
  21. *To make the rose design, create a really tight and small letter eye with a fluted tip.
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Neapolitan Rose Cake

Neapolitan Rose Cake

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