Neapolitan Loaf Cake

Neapolitan Loaf Cake
I can’t stop thinking about ice cream and berries. Perhaps it’s premature summer on the brain? There’s an amazing ice cream shop in our neighborhood, and anytime it’s the slightest bit warm with a few rays of sunshine, the line will wrap around the block. Believe me—it’s always worth the wait. And berries are finally priced where I feel no guilt buying them because I didn’t have to pay for their airfare halfway around the world to make it here.

I turned my current obsessions into a simple dessert with a lot of color and pattern. To make this Neapolitan loaf cake, I revisited a marble loaf cake recipe and set aside some of the vanilla batter not only for chocolate, but for strawberry too. I wanted to amp up the pink, so I added a tiny drop of gel food coloring. As I dolloped alternating flavors of batter into the pan, I could barely contain my excitement to see the first slice.

Neapolitan Loaf Cake
Adapted from Food & Wine March 2003

Makes 1 loaf

Non-stick cooking spray
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature, plus 3 tablespoons melted
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch processed
1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
5 medium strawberries, hulled
1 drop pink gel food coloring
Confectioners’ sugar before dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray, line with parchment paper and then spray the paper.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter and cocoa powder until smooth.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the room temperature butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, vanilla and milk until fully combined. Fold in the dry ingredients. Stir 1 cup of the batter into the cocoa powder mixture.

Puree the strawberries in a food processor. Stir 2 tablespoons strawberry puree and gel food coloring into 3/4 cup of the batter.

Dollop the batter, alternating colors into the prepared loaf pan. Tap the pan on the counter to smooth the batter, so it is even in the pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F and bake for another 40-45 minutes until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If the cake starts to brown too quickly, cover loosely with foil while baking.

Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

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