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Neapolitan Cake

A lovely old-fashioned three-layered cake from the pages of Nana Ling's cookbook.
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Neapolitan Cake

Nana Ling called this a Rainbow Cake, but it definitely looks more like what we’d call a Neapolitan Cake these days. So, to avoid confusion, let’s stick with calling it Neapolitan Cake.

Neapolitan Cake

This Neapolitan Cake is the first recipe on this blog and was baked late on a Friday afternoon, with Miss Y and Miss Z assisting.

After one cracked egg on the floor and plenty of fighting about who gets to lick which beater, we did eventually get to enjoy a slice of this lovely Neapolitan Cake in our backyard courtyard.

Making Neapolitan Cake

The recipe is dated 26 January 1940 and, interestingly, identifies “Yo Yo” as the source of the recipe.

Was a toy yo-yo marketer somehow responsible for distributing rainbow cake recipes? Did Nana Ling have a friend nicknamed Yo Yo who gave her the recipe? I was puzzled about this one until my Aunty Pam told me Nana Ling was part of a member of a “radio club” and possibly gathered recipes from that source. Nana Ling’s radio name was “Sun Bonnet Blue” which makes “Yo Yo” sound like another radio name.

Any other theories? I’d love to hear them, or anything you know about radio clubs, in the comments below.

stirring colours for neapolitan cake

And eating it too!

It may take a little extra effort to make this three-layered cake, but that just makes the next stage even more enjoyable. Eating it!

eating neapolitan cake

Nana Ling’s Neapolitan Cake recipe

Keep scrolling for the tested and tweaked version.

neapolitan cake recipe
Neapolitan Cake

Neapolitan Cake

A lovely old-fashioned three-layered cake from the pages of Nana Ling’s cookbook.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Australian
Keyword: neapolitan cake
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 52 minutes
Servings: 12 people
Calories: 554kcal



  • 225 grams butter
  • 225 grams sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 90 ml milk
  • 340 grams flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 3 teaspoon cocoa
  • 3 drops red food colouring

Buttercream icing

  • 175 grams butter
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk



  • Beat butter and sugar till white.
  • Beat eggs, then beat with butter and sugar mixture.
  • Add milk and vanilla essence.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder and mix in quickly and lightly, not beating.
  • Divide mixture into three parts. Leave one plain. Mix cocoa into one. And colour the other part.
  • Cook each part separately in a hot oven for 12 minutes. I’ve used a ring tin. If using a round tin, you may need to cook a little longer.
  • When cold, join parts with jam, ice and decorate.

Buttercream Icing

  • Beat butter until white, then gradually add icing sugar and milk.


Calories: 554kcal | Carbohydrates: 71g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Cholesterol: 113mg | Sodium: 259mg | Potassium: 101mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 49g | Vitamin A: 905IU | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 2mg
Recipe Rating

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Vicki Doyle

Friday 24th of November 2023

Hi Libby,ohhh you have taken me back with this "Rainbow Cake" Mum always made this in a rectangle pan with Mock Cream filling & always iced all over with pink icing & tiny silver balls ( they called them cashews but that isn't the spelling of them it started with caus???) Just absolutely love your site it brings back so many beautiful memories of my childhood, Thankyou so much..

Libby Hakim

Monday 27th of November 2023

Aww, you're so welcome. You're thinking of cachous! Still love those. x

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