Where there’s ice cream, there has to be sprinkles! This ice cream loaf cake features layers of buttery sprinkle cake and ice cream while chocolate ganache and sprinkles add a delicious and decorative finishing touch. You can use your favorite ice cream flavor, but stick to an ice cream that doesn’t contain a lot of large chunks. (See recipe note.) The cake is pretty solid after freezing, so give it a few minutes before slicing and serving.
Ice Cream Loaf Cake Details
- Flavor: The cake reminds me of these funfetti cupcakes because it’s buttery and sweet with notes of vanilla. The ganache topping is, of course, rich and chocolatey. The ice cream flavor is completely up to you, so have fun with this. Some ice cream options I love for this ice cream loaf cake recipe are chocolate chip, strawberry, pistachio, peanut butter ripple, cookies & cream, and mint chocolate chip. (All flavors I’d recommend for cookie ice cream sandwiches too!)
- Texture: Right out of the freezer, the slices taste frozen (obviously) so I like to let the cake sit out for a few minutes before slicing. I even let the slices sit for another few minutes before serving because I prefer a softer cake with ice cream. Test cakes were MUCH denser even after sitting out and you can read about my recipe testing next.
- Ease: This is a very straightforward cake recipe. You don’t need a mixer or any special equipment, but have some parchment paper or plastic wrap handy for assembly. Slicing the cake into layers takes some time, but don’t stress. As long as you have a very sharp or serrated knife, it’s manageable. Note that a cake leveler isn’t very helpful because this is a denser cake. The hardest part is waiting for the assembled cake to freeze! Or, if you’re indecisive like I am, choosing an ice cream flavor. 😉
How & Why This Recipe Works
My go-to ice cream cake recipe is all ice cream with layers of Oreos and whipped cream on top. Today’s recipe includes actual cake. I prefer softer cakes, so my #1 goal was to start with a soft cake that was still sturdy enough to assemble and serve frozen. It was certainly a tall order and about 7 test recipes later—and that is no exaggeration—I had a workable recipe.
Butter-based cakes, like pound cake, are notoriously heavy and even denser when frozen. I knew this wasn’t the place I wanted to start, so I opted for an oil-based cake. The oil-based sprinkle cake was fine, but it looked and tasted more like quick bread. I swapped oil for melted butter so there could be a little more flavor in the cake. I also switched to cake flour to provide a lighter crumb. I tried using 2 egg whites instead of a whole egg, since egg whites make a lighter cake (see white cake), but that made no difference here. Use cake flour, melted butter, 1 whole egg, and the rest of the ingredients listed below. The cake has great structure, but is still a little soft as the cake slices thaw.
How to Assemble This Ice Cream Loaf Cake
You can watch the recipe video and read the detailed recipe instructions below, but I find step photos to be massively helpful. Let’s start assembling this cake!
Start Assembly: After removing the completely cooled loaf cake from the pan, slice it into 3 layers. This can be tricky, so take your time. I usually stand the loaf upright on one end and slice downward. Be careful and watch your fingers if doing it this way. Line your loaf pan with parchment paper or plastic wrap with overhang on the sides. Place bottom cake layer in:
Ice Cream: Spread half of your ice cream on top. This is much easier if the ice cream has slightly softened and I worked that into the recipe instructions below. I just use a spoon to scoop it out of the container and spread it around. It’s a thick layer of ice cream:
Repeat: Repeat this one more time with middle cake layer and 2nd layer of ice cream.
Finally, place the top cake layer on top then cover and freeze.
Topping, Slicing, & Serving This Ice Cream Loaf Cake
Can it really be a cake without a glorious finishing touch? Top this ice cream cake with a thick layer of chocolate ganache. Since the cake is so cold, the ganache sets very quickly and tastes like a layer of rich fudge. The chocolate ganache instructions are below, but if you’d like to learn more see my separate chocolate ganache post.
Let the ganache cool and thicken for about 10 minutes, then spread onto the frozen loaf cake. The cake is obviously very cold, so I recommend letting it sit for about 3-5 minutes before slicing. (Otherwise you’ll have a heck of a time trying to cut it!) And if you prefer a softer ice cream cake like I do, let the slices “melt” for a few more minutes before serving them. Feel free to add a dollop of fresh whipped cream, too!
Such a fun treat for a summer birthday! (And for the peanut butter lovers, this peanut butter ice cream pie is always a hit!)
Best Sprinkles to Use in Cakes
I’ve been baking cake and cupcake batters with sprinkles for quite awhile and have learned exactly what works—and what doesn’t. Here’s what I know:
- Use confetti quins if you can. They’re usually sold as little discs, but you can find other shapes such as stars or hearts too. This type of sprinkle rarely bleeds color in cake batter.
- I really like these rainbow sprinkles if you’re looking for traditional jimmies. (Not sponsored, truly what I personally use.) They don’t bleed color too much, so they also work well in the batter of confetti cake. They aren’t crunchy, so they taste nice as decoration or garnish too.
- Do not use nonpareils (the little balls) in cake batter because they are notorious for bleeding color. Save them for decoration or garnish.
- Naturally colored sprinkles are wonderful in cookies and as decoration, but—depending on the brand—can lose their color in cake batter.
See Your Ice Cream Loaf Cakes!
Many readers tried this recipe as part of a baking challenge! Feel free to email or share your recipe photos with us on social media. 🙂Print
Ice Cream Loaf Cake
- Prep Time: 45 minutes
- Cook Time: 55 minutes
- Total Time: 9 hours, 40 minutes (includes freezing)
- Yield: 1 loaf cake
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
This ice cream loaf cake features layers of buttery sprinkle cake and ice cream while chocolate ganache and sprinkles add a delicious and decorative finishing touch. For best success, review recipe notes and video tutorial before beginning.
- 2 cups (236g) cake flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 Tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup (80g) sour cream (or plain yogurt/Greek yogurt), at room temperature*
- 2/3 cup (160ml) whole milk, at room temperature*
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup (about 50g) sprinkles
- 2 pints (4 cups; about 960ml) ice cream (see note)
- one 4-ounce (113g) quality semi-sweet chocolate bar, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces; 120ml) heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
- optional: sprinkles for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 9×5 inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
- Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk the melted and slightly cooled butter, egg, granulated sugar, sour cream, milk, and vanilla together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then whisk to completely combine. Avoid over-mixing. Fold in the sprinkles.
- Pour the batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake loaf cake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, covering loosely with foil about halfway through to prevent the top from over-browning. Poke the center of the cake with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. Oven times will vary between ovens. My cake usually takes 55 minutes. Cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack.
- Slice cake into layers: The video tutorial above is a helpful visual for the next few steps. Carefully remove cooled cake from loaf pan. (You will use the loaf pan again in the next step.) Place on a cutting board and using a very sharp or serrated knife, slowly slice horizontally into 3 even layers. As shown in the video above, I usually stand the loaf upright on one end and cut it down vertically. Feel free to use a ruler for precision. A cake leveler isn’t very helpful because this is a denser cake.
- Remove ice cream from freezer. Let it soften for 15 minutes or microwave it for about 20-30 seconds.
- Assemble & freeze cake: Line loaf pan with parchment paper or plastic wrap with enough overhang on the sides to lift the ice cream loaf cake out of the pan after freezing. Place bottom loaf cake layer into lined pan. Slowly and carefully spread 1 pint of softened ice cream in an even layer on top. Top with center loaf cake layer. Slowly and carefully spread 2nd pint of ice cream evenly on top. Place top loaf cake layer on top, pressing it down gently so it really sticks to the ice cream beneath it. Cover assembled loaf cake with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and freeze for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. (If freezing for longer than 1 day, let it sit for 10 minutes at room temperature before pouring ganache on top in step 9.)
- With about 15 minutes left in freezing time, make the ganache topping: Place chopped chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it begins to gently simmer. (Do not let it come to a rapid boil– that’s too hot!) Pour over chocolate, then let it sit for 2-3 minutes to gently soften the chocolate. With a metal spoon or small rubber spatula, very slowly stir until completely combined and chocolate has melted. The finer you chopped the chocolate, the quicker it will melt with the cream. Set aside for 10 minutes to thicken as you complete the next step.
- Remove loaf cake from the freezer and using the parchment overhang on the sides, carefully lift it out of the loaf pan. Parchment may tear, but do your best to remove the whole cake. Use a knife to loosen it from the pan if needed. Remove parchment from cake and place cake on a cutting board.
- Pour and spread ganache on top. Garnish with sprinkles if desired. Ganache will set quickly since the loaf is so cold. Let the cake sit for 3-5 minutes to slightly soften before slicing. (Slicing will be VERY hard to do otherwise!)
- Using a very sharp or serrated knife, cut into slices about 3/4 inch thick. Cake will be hard since it’s frozen, but softens as the minutes go by. I like it better when the cake and ice cream are a little softer after a few minutes.
- Cover and store leftover cake/slices in the freezer for up to 1 week.
- Make Ahead Instructions: You can make this ice cream cake ahead of time since it needs to freeze. Freeze assembled cake for up to 3 days. See end of step 6. It’s best to add ganache topping soon before slicing and serving. If absolutely needed, you can top with ganache then carefully cover and place back into the freezer for up to 8 hours. Let it sit at room temperature for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Cake Flour: Sometimes a cake flour substitute works in recipes calling for cake flour, but it’s best to use real cake flour here. The cake tastes a bit dense if using the substitute. You can find cake flour in most grocery stores in the baking aisle.
- Sour Cream & Milk: Full fat sour cream and whole milk are strongly recommended for the best taste and texture. A full fat plain yogurt would work instead of the sour cream, though the cake may not taste as tender. Same goes with a lower fat or nondairy milk.
- Sprinkles: Feel free to leave out the sprinkles if desired. For the best sprinkles to use in cakes, see details above the recipe.
- Ice Cream: You can use any flavor ice cream, but I recommend avoiding ice cream with large chunks in it. Slicing the cake will be very difficult (almost impossible!) if you have to slice through large chunks in the ice cream. I used chocolate chip ice cream, which has thin and small pieces of chocolate throughout.
Keywords: ice cream loaf cake
Reader Comments & Reviews
I have loved the other recipes I have tried on this site. This cake was a miss for us. The freshly baked cake itself looked and smelled lovely, and the assembly instructions were easy to follow. But, the completed ice cream cake was dry and bland – my guess is that freezing the cake makes it so. We did let it soften for 15 min before eating as recommended, but the cake still was dry and rather tasteless. The whole thing looked very festive, though. Again, all other baked goods I’ve made on the site have been delicious.
I am hoping for a birthday confetti cake recipe for a loaf pan. Would this be a good one and just skip the ice cream part..? Thanks!
Hi Miranda, you can certainly do that. Enjoy!
I have made this twice with great results! My son requested one for his birthday- could I double the recipe and bake 3 layers in 8 or 9 inch round pans?
Thanks for any ideas! I always love your recipes and thoughtful tips. Big fan!!
For some reason ice cream was softer and cake was frozen solid. Very good though.
The chocolate makes it a winner!
When I went to slice it one layer fell apart. Its in the freezer now so we will see how it turns out.
I think the bottom layer was cut to large. Looking forward to seeing how it turns out even
though top layer is a bit short
Hey Sally! Do you think that any cake recipe would work for this? Or was this cake made specifically to bake in a loaf pan? I’d like to make a chocolate version of this with mint Oreo ice cream for my sons birthday!
Hi Melodee, this cake recipe was crafted specifically for a loaf pan and to be frozen. Here’s what Sally says about it: “Start with a soft cake that was still sturdy enough to assemble and serve frozen. It was certainly a tall order and about 7 test recipes later–-and that is no exaggeration–-I had a workable recipe. Butter-based cakes, like pound cake, are notoriously heavy and even denser when frozen. I knew this wasn’t the place I wanted to start, so I opted for an oil-based cake. The oil-based sprinkle cake was fine, but it looked and tasted more like quick bread. I swapped oil for melted butter so there could be a little more flavor in the cake. I also switched to cake flour to provide a lighter crumb. I tried using 2 egg whites instead of a whole egg, since egg whites make a lighter cake (see white cake), but that made no difference here. Use cake flour, melted butter, 1 whole egg, and the rest of the ingredients listed below. The cake has great structure, but is still a little soft as the cake slices thaw.”
You could also try this ice cream cake recipe and make it mint chocolate Oreo!
My kiddo wants to have this for his birthday, but with chocolate cake instead. Would there be an easy way to convert the recipe to chocolate cake without making it too dense?
Hi Marco, we don’t have a chocolate cake version of this. You could start by using this chocolate cake recipe (maybe halving it or using only 3/4 of the batter because it will yield too much as written), but we’re unsure how it will turn out since we haven’t tested it. Let us know if you do give anything a try!
This was a great combination of my son’s two favorite things – funfetti and ice cream, so I made it for his birthday. I made the cake one day and layered the ice cream the next day. I didn’t have any problems cutting it after viewing the video. I would also make the cake without the ice cream for another time, it was very good. We all love it. Thanks!
Can I use chocolate chips instead of the sprinkles?
Hi Safiya, we can’t see why not. We’d recommend using mini chocolate chips if possible so they are better dispersed throughout the cake (more in each bite!). Use the same amount as the sprinkles.
This is a delicious recipe! My son and I each made 1 for Christmas, and the recipe was easy to follow. The end result looked just like the photos. We are still enjoying them today! Thank you for designing great recipes that regular people can succeed with!!!
Would definitely try again
My cake took longer to bake. It fell apart some when i tried to cut it. The cake seemed dry. I did something wrong but i don’t know what it was. Kids enjoyed it though. Still wondering what my mistake was.
Hi Judy, we’re happy to help troubleshoot! How did you measure your flour? Be sure to spoon and level to ensure you don’t accidentally use too much flour, as even a little bit extra can produce a drier cake. Over baking the cake, even slightly, can also produce a drier cake. Finally, this post on how to prevent dry and dense cakes might also be helpful for next time. Thanks so much for giving this recipe a try — we’re glad your kids enjoyed it!
Could you make this cake with traditional round cake pans?
Hi Katie, it definitely would but the cake may taste a little denser that way. We’re unsure of the best bake time.
Made this for the August challenge and it was pretty easy to make. Ice cream cake isn’t really my thing but my daughter loves it and told me this was better than Dairy Queen.
Tasted really good, took a while to set but worth it :)))
So easy and so delicious! 🙂
i’m a ten year old and i love baking would i be able to do this?
This cake was very dense, as Sally advised. I personally prefer a lighter cake. The overall flavor of the cake alone is good. I do agree with M. Rich that the cake lost its flavor when combined with the ice cream. I used Blue Bunny Cookies and Cream ice cream. Maybe just plain vanilla would not alter the taste as much? This was fairly easy to make, and my children of course gobbled it up!
This was such a fun recipe to make for my fiance’s birthday! I was surprised by how easy it cut. I used vanilla on the bottom layer and I think I may have put too much pressure on when assembling because I couldn’t really see the vanilla layer when I cut it, it seemed like it blended in with the cake. But I could definitely taste it!
Made this for the August baking challenge and it came out great! The cake was a little crumblier than I anticipated which made it a bit challenging to cut, but luckily it was easy enough to spackle everything back together with the ice cream during assembly. I did use the Greek yogurt instead of the sour cream so maybe that effected the cake texture? Other than that I kept the recipe the same. It was super delicious and perfect for the heat wave we had this past weekend! Only thing I might do differently next time is add a bit more salt to the batter to help offset the sweetness- however that is just my own personal preference!
Maybe a drizzle of salted Carmel in between layers
Overall, it was just okay. I thought the cake on its own was quite delicious (snuck a crumble or two while slicing). However, when combined with the ice cream and then frozen – the cake flavor was totally lost. In the future I may make the cake as a standalone.
This is a winner! I used confetti quins as Sally suggested, which is the key to success in a confetti cake! I enjoyed this delicious cake with the ice cream layers! Definitely don’t skimp on the ice cream. Thank you Sally for the wonderful video to guide me through. This is the perfect summer birthday cake!
I really enjoyed the experience of making something like this for the first time 🙂 the cake was very soft and delicious 🙂
This was a fun, but slightly more challenging recipe than anticipated. I think quality/type of ice cream must really matter with this recipe since the brand I used tended to go soft almost immediately after being removed from the fridge and made it extra difficult to cut into individual slices without it melting excessively or falling apart. As for flavor, I used pistachio almond ice cream, which was a fantastic combo and added a nice bright green contrast to the cake.
Great tasting cake and recipe! Next time I would sift the dry ingredients together, as my cake flour seemed to clump a little. I don’t have a lot of experience with cake flour, so I’m not sure if that’s the norm.
This was such a fun recipe! Definitely a potential family birthday dessert option!!
My ganache didn’t set up but it tasted amazing. Empty plates and everyone raved!!! Thanks Sally for another great summer recipe!