Neapolitan gateau

This is a cake version of my partner’s favourite ice cream from childhood: a Neapolitan (or Harlequin), an ice cream block with layers of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla ice cream.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I made this cake for our birthdays (a day apart, so it happily served 2 purposes!).

For the flavours here I have gone for:

  • vanilla and lemon sponge*
  • lemon buttercream
  • strawberry buttercream
  • strawberry purée brushed over the sponges
  • white chocolate and strawberry shards

*A full guide, with recipes and tips on making various cakes, including the Victoria Sandwich cake that I used in this case, can be found at my key cakes post here.

I went for three layers of cake here, using 4 large eggs and the all-in-one method. I just added the grated zest of 3 lemons and a teaspoon of vanilla bean extract to the mixture.

This amount gave a good depth of sponge in the 7″ layers.

To get the effect I wanted, you first crumb-coat the cake with a thin layer of the lemon buttercream and chill fully so the buttercream firms up.

You then simply spoon or pipe alternating bands of the lemon buttercream and strawberry buttercream all around the cake. This is easier putting the cake on a turntable, I went for thicker bands of the lemon buttercream than the strawberry.

You then hold a palette knife or ruler vertically against the cake, only gently pressing onto the buttercream, and rotate the cake to give a smooth finish. You can go round again if you want. You then chill the cake.

Buttercream tips: maximising flavour, minimising sweetness

I am not a fan of the sickly sweet buttercreams that taste of little other than sugar, so when I make buttercream I reduce the amount of icing sugar: so rather than go for twice the amount of icing sugar to butter, I go for no more than equal quantities of each.

Not only is the buttercream leas sweet, yet still unctuous, the other benefit is that this gives you a lighter, more mousse-like buttercream.

As I often do, I beated in some melted white chocolate into the buttercream: not only do you get that wonderful flavour of white chocolate, it acts as a stabiliser so that you can add more flavour to the buttercream without it splitting: in this case, lemon curd and fresh strawberry purée.

The final buttercreams are certainly rich from the butter (they need to be!), but they are also very tangy from the lemon and the strawberry.

The proportions do not need to be exact with buttercreams, but here I used roughly:

  • 400g unsalted butter, very soft
  • 400g icing sugar, sifted
  • 300g lemon curd
  • 150g strawberry purée
  • 150g white chocolate, melted and cooled

(1) You simply best the butter and icing sugar for several minutes until it is very light. Add most of white chocolate and beat in for another minute or so.

(2) I took about a third of the butter cream and beat in just over half of the strawberry purée with the rest of the white chocolate, adding a little of the purée at a time until fully combined. The rest of the buttercream had the lemon curd beaten into it.

NB: the remaining strawberry purée was spread over the cake sponges before adding the buttercream filling.

White chocolate shards: creamy and tangy!

The white chocolate and strawberry shards are simply melted white chocolate poured ovnto a sheet of baking parchment.

You then sprinkle over dried strawberries and let them sit on top, gloriously suspended in the chocolate.

Once the chocolate had set, you just snap them apart.


Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

10 thoughts on “Neapolitan gateau”

  1. I know that you have said what you actually did, but is it possible to have a proper recipe for this unless there is one and I am missing it somehow? Including the buttercreams please? It looks delicious.


    1. Hi, I have added more about the recipe. There is a link in the post to my main recipes post for the Victoria Sandwich cake, although I made a similar cake a whike ago with a whisked sponge, which was very nice. Kind regards.


  2. Hi Philip Have made several of your gorgeous cakes for my husband and friends, family ,neighbours, also for charity fundraising. I wonder do you realize how ALL who eat these delectable treats are in awe of your expertise! I was quite anxious at first and I have baked most of my life from very young but the recipes are so precise and as always if you follow the recipe don’t open the door , use correct tins and oven temps all is well. THANK YOU for the truly amazing array of all things edible I do so enjoy baking these treats for others and still am speechless when I see the end result. With kindest regards Sue.


    1. Hi Sue thank you so much for your very lovely comments. They really made my day and have given me a lift. I am so pleased you have enjoyed the recipes. Best wishes.


I love to hear your comments:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: