Citrus Neapolitan Cake

The Citrus Neapolitan Cake.  This is a cake I’ve been thinking about for a long time.  It’s such an effort (bake three cakes, make four batches of frosting)…that I wanted to make it when I felt inspired OR a special event/occasion came up.

My love for all things Neapolitan comes from…I don’t know where.  As a young mother, I would consistently buy Neapolitan ice cream.  Either in the IGA or at home putting away the groceries, I’d remind all persons within the sound of my voice, “Three flavors, one container, everybody’s favorite!”  Without exception, there’d be a voice of opposition, “NO!  It’s not myyy favorite.”  Kids…what do they know?

When I started baking cakes and creating little cupcake beauties, I’d go online and see what other bakers were putting together.  The Neapolitan Rose cake is gorgeous and I had to try it – almost immediately.  The level of work put into that cake was staggering.  Hot tip:When baking the Neapolitan cake, don’t split each recipe in half (half chocolate, half strawberry, half vanilla).  Go ahead and bake three full cakes.  Build and frost one that’s needed right now and freeze the remaining three layers.  Next time a special something cake is needed, all that’s left is the icing.  

Taking the Neapolitan one step further…I love citrus flavored foods (and the actual citrus fruit itself – love Little Cuties).  Lemon cake…that’s yummy all day long.  Now, what about orange and lime?  This had to be yummy.  Back to my Google search and the Citrus Neapolitan Cake was nowhere to be found.  Ok then, I’ll do it myself.

Epic fail #1.  I went to the states to visit our oldest daughter and watch her walk as she graduated with her BA in Art History and Curatorial Services (sounds high fallutin’).   Her dad and I are so stinkin’ proud of her hard work and stick-to-it-ness.  When planning her graduation party, I decided to bake three different cakes; keeping in mind our family motto, “anything worth doing is worth overdoing”, this seems right on target.  I wanted to construct this particular Citrus Neapolitan cake.  Recipes are thin when it comes to orange cake and especially lime cake.  I thought I could bake a cake using jello as a coloring agent and flavor additive.  Oh boy. Colossal fail.  There are no pictures since these “cakes” went straight from the 8” round pans and into the rubbish bin.  This post and this post focus on our combined baking efforts.  Anyway….

Fast forward six weeks and a walk up to our favorite Starbucks.  I was once again inspired to take a run at this elusive Citrus Neapolitan.  Call me, Captain Ahab but I will lash myself to the buttercream.

I gave myself permission to stop and think.  In the quiet.  By myself.  And it dawned on me…simply, follow the yummy lemon cake recipe, but exchange the citrus for each separate cake batter.  Eureka!  Baking the same cake recipe ensures consistent cake density and uniformity that would less likely occur if using three different recipes. 

I baked two layers of lemon, two of lime, and two of orange.  I froze one layer of each flavor and stacked then frosted the remaining three layers.  I got stuck on how to order these three and opted to follow the rainbow sequence.  Also, it tasted great!  Hot tip: When freezing a layer of cake that has cooled to room temperature, sprinkle the plastic wrap with powdered sugar before placing the cake on the wrap.  Sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar.  This will prevent the cake from sticking to the plastic and does not alter the taste of the cake since powdered sugar will likely be a component of the frosting.


That is just what I did.  I also added gel food coloring to highlight the differences in the layers and visually support the lime, lemon, and orange flavored layers.

The frosting is a consistent American Cream Cheese Buttercream with a bit of Swiss Meringue Buttercream folded in.  I like the smooth texture.  The coloring of the citrus roses echoes the color of each layer in the cake. 

I’m ok with the results.  It’s not perfect.  I would like for it to be perfect.  This is a real stumbling block for me and awareness of its existence isn’t enough.  I want to be a more relaxed.  And, when it comes to things I’m producing – cupcakes, quilts, grades…I want perfection.  It’s ridiculous and I own that part.  I’d like this to be different.  Perhaps cake will teach me to truly embrace what I often share with clients and friends.

“I am enough. I have enough. I do enough.”  For inside any given moment and breath – I am all three.

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7 Responses

  1. John Murphy says:

    You are all three, and that in itself brings perfection to all you do.

  2. I am loving your blog! Thanks for the link to FB, or I’d fall off on reading it.

    • Julia Murphy says:

      Thanks Ari-Asha; that means alot. I never would have guessed that cupcakes and cakes would bring me back. Also, my friends at the Starbucks love my “American cake.”

      Bless their hearts.

  3. Jenn says:

    I found your blog through facebook and I really enjoy reading it! This citrus neapolitan cake sounds and looks amazing…I love citrus cakes!

  4. Julia Murphy says:

    Thanks Jenn; I appreciate your feedback so much. I really loved baking this cake and putting it together. I tend to forget the amount of work that goes into something this fun. Let me know how your Citrus Neapolitan turns out!

  1. January 4, 2015

    […] preparing a multi-colored cake…such as the Citrus Neapolitan Cake or the Rainbow Cake, I always, even now after having baked each several times over, bake a […]

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