Ice Cream Loaf Cake

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. 

slice of ice cream loaf cake with chocolate ganache

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.
  • 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– just as pictured above. 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. 😉

Video Tutorial

ice cream layered loaf cake with chocolate ganache and sprinkles

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.

melted butter and other cake ingredients next to a photo showing the bowl of sprinkle cake batter

sprinkle loaf cake before and after baking

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:

sliced funfetti loaf cake

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:

spreading ice cream on loaf cake layers

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.

assembled sprinkle ice cream loaf cake before freezing

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 How to Make 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.

Such a fun treat for a summer birthday!

chocolate ganache on top of ice cream cake

slice of ice cream layered loaf cake

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. These shimmery ones hold their color nicely too.
  • 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. 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.
Print
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ice cream layered loaf cake with chocolate ganache and sprinkles

Ice Cream Loaf Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 9 hours, 40 minutes (includes freezing)
  • Yield: 1 loaf cake; 10-12 servings
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

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.


Ingredients

  • 2 cups (236gcake 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 (80gsour 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 50gsprinkles
  • 2 pints (4 cups; about 960ml) ice cream (see note)

Ganache Topping

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 9×5 inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Remove ice cream from freezer. Let it soften for 15 minutes or microwave it for about 20-30 seconds.
  6. 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.)
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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!)
  10. 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.
  11. Cover and store leftover cake/slices in the freezer for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Sprinkles: Feel free to leave out the sprinkles if desired. For the best sprinkles to use in cakes, see details above the recipe.
  5. 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

 

165 Comments

  1. Delicious cake and fun to prepare!

  2. Loved making this cake for a birthday this month! Perfect summer cake and my kids devoured it! I made the cake the night before then in the morning put in the ice cream layers, put it in the freezer and was ready for dessert that night!

  3. Great cake for my ice cream and funfetti cake loving husband! I had a little trouble cutting the cake (it broke in a couple of places while slicing), but once assembled you couldn’t even tell. Simple to put together, fun to eat!

  4. This was so good! I added cooked green apples, cinnamon and allspice into the batter and did 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup white sugar to make an apple cinnamon loaf and left out the sprinkles. I filled the layers with brown butter bourbon truffle ice cream and a butterscotch ganache. I just replaced the semi sweet chocolate with butterscotch chips. I can see myself making many different flavors with this recipe! Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  5. Everyone in my home loved this! The cake part worked well, seemed to be sturdy enough to handle the slicing and assembly. And anything with chocolate ganache is a winner in my book! Thanks for another great recipe!

  6. Hi Sally,
    I was very happy when I saw your august challenge because it’s a cake ,yummy delicious cake.

  7. Hi Sally!
    This baking challenge was incredibly fun. I love the ice cream and cake combination but I’ve never made it because my stepson insists on just ice cream. He doesn’t like to mix desserts. Every year I make him your 5 layer ice cream cake for his birthday. He ate the whole slice in silence and then said, “oh man, I think I’ve found a new birthday cake request!” Thank you for broadening his dessert horizons!!

  8. Laurie Chaplen says:

    Can’t wait to make for my daughters birthday cake. Given the heat here she wants an icecream cake for her birthday and I showed her this and she want it.

  9. I had such a good time making this cake for the August challenge! Putting the cake together was super easy! The directions were spot-on, too! Thanks for including the how-to video. I will make this next time I’m entertaining!

  10. This was a fun, easy cake to make! Unfortunately my store only had pastel sprinkle quins which disappeared! I thought strawberry or chocolate mint ice cream would have been delicious, but was over ruled 2 votes to 1 for vanilla so I pleased the masses; it was still good; you can’t go wrong with a Sally recipe!!!

  11. This is a great recipe! It came together easily and is the perfect summer dessert! I used mint chocolate chip ice cream, and it’s delicious. I was nervous about slicing the loaf, but it ended up being a breeze, and it didn’t crumble at all. It was actually easier for me to cut horizontally rather than vertically. I used a sharp, serrated bread knife that I usually reserve for my sourdough loaves. I can’t wait to make this again with other ice cream flavors!

  12. We loved this challenge. We had never made an ice cream cake before. The instructions were so perfect and all your helpful hints made for a flawless baking challenge. Thanks to the team at Sally’s for a Great Challenge.

    As always,
    Cheryl

  13. Such a fun, easy summertime dessert!

  14. While the process of making the cake was fun, I was a bit disappointed because the cake was dry. I followed instructions exactly (I always do the first time making a recipe). Not sure if I would try this again. Maybe I will but with ice cream on the side. 🙂

  15. Ashley Nowak says:

    This cake is simply delicious as I tried pieces that fell off as I was cutting it into layers. I will definitely be making it again and plan to try Sally’s buttercream frosting. As far as the ice cream combination, I felt as though the amazing taste of the cake was hidden in it’s frozen state.

  16. a bozo says what says:

    Lovely cake! I am well aware this is for the August Baking Challenge. I tried it and it was DELICIOUS!!! Good quality ice cream helps as well. Am definitely having a shot at it for August Baking Challenge although I am not too confident I will win. Thanks for this awesome recipe though!

  17. Fun recipe to prepare with my daughter. She choose chocolate peanut butter ice cream, and the peanut butter overpowered the cake. Her choice. I would have chosen either chocolate chip or cookies and cream, like Sally suggested. Definitely would make again for summer gatherings.

  18. This was really easy spread out over 24 hours. I made Sally’s no churn ice cream and added strawberries which worked well and was delicious with the ganache. I cut up the extra cake and individually wrapped for future desserts. I would definitely make this again!

  19. I am not usually a fan of cake in my ice cream cakes, a particular ice cream store has a terrible one, but this cake kept it’s flavour and texture out of the freezer.

  20. Leanna Armstrong says:

    Loved the recipe and how easy it was to make. Next time I’m going to try to change everything to chocolate. Chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream, chocolate ganache.

  21. This cake was so easy to make and was a complete hit! Great recipe.

  22. Candace Smith says:

    This is (as always) a great, easy to follow recipe. However, it has confirmed the fact that I just don’t care for ice cream cake. 🙂 Like one of the other reviews said, the texture and taste of the cake before freezing was AMAZING – so buttery and light – but freeze any cake (and put something liquidy like ice cream on it) and it is (in my opinion) not nearly as good. If you are an ice cream cake fan, this is a great cake for you. As for me – I will make Sally’s cakes and have my ice cream on the side. 🙂 !!

  23. My teen and her friend made this one and we loved it! Our sprinkles bled into the cake batter and it ended up being a bit blue, but in a good way. Thanks for another great recipe, Sally!

  24. I had a blast making this recipe. I’ve never made an ice cream cake before, but I’ve cream is one of my favorite things EVER so this was my dream baking challenge recipe. The video made it so easy to follow, and it ended up being really tasty!! I used a caramel swirl ice cream and it was perfect. Thanks Sally and team!

  25. The cake was delicious and definitely a kid favorite, even though I had difficulty cutting it evenly. Good news that it didn’t show once I reassembled it with the ice cream.

  26. wowzers. deLICIOSO. Made it for Sally’s Baking Challenge and am sending a photo ASAP. only problem was when I bit it the ice cream went through my teeth and that gives me the willes. Thanks for the amazing recipe though! (and make sure to double enter my name into the baking challenge ). Thanks sally & co.!

  27. Calling me an amateur baker would be generous, but I was actually able to do this and do it well! (Except for putting the ganache on attractively, that was an unholy mess) When I saw this recipe I knew it would be perfect for my daughter’s 4th birthday, and it was! Everyone loved it. I used cookies n cream ice cream, but we discussed the endless possibilities of ice cream flavors that could be used and would compliment the cake. My sister has already requested this cake for her birthday. Thank you, Sally!

  28. Geri Dilbeck says:

    Thanks for another great challenge! The possibilities are endless, however I used bright white vanilla ice cream to highlight the colorful sprinkles. This is a happy cake 🙂

  29. My kids enjoyed this! I don’t care for frozen cake so I just made the cake with ganache and served the ice cream on the side which worked well. It was a denser cake but with a nice buttery flavor

  30. Jenni Nagler says:

    So fun to make and delicious!!

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