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. Is there a good non-dairy substitute for sour cream and heavy whipping cream?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi C, you could try a dairy-free yogurt in place of the sour cream, although we haven’t tried this ourselves and are unsure of the exact outcome. For the ganache, you can use the came amount of full-fat canned coconut milk in place of the heavy cream. Let us know how it turns out for you!

  2. Family loved this ice cream loaf. Next time I will add at least a pint of extra ice cream. The Merlot Ganache was the perfect topping.

  3. Dannielle E. says:

    A fun and simple recipe with room for a lot of experimentation! I used strawberry cheesecake ice cream as this was a gift for a friend and she loved it! Such a great great for the summer.

  4. Hi Sally! Me and my family really liked the ice cream loaf cake. I used vanilla ice cream for the cake. The chocolate ganache is a great topping! I used rainbow sprinkles in and on the cake. I made it for my parents anniversary and they loved it. The ice cream loaf cake is good for any occasion. The cake is so good and I hope I can make it again.

  5. John Ardolino says:

    This cake was a hit!

  6. Delicious! What a fun summer treat and so easy to customize the flavor profile. I struggled a little to cut the loaf into equal pieces but it still turned out great.

  7. Really tasty cake. Perfect for a hot day. If I make it again I might try it in a round cake pan. Would that work?

    1. Hi Eve, it definitely would but the cake may taste a little denser that way. I’m unsure of the best bake time.

  8. Hi Sally, wondering if I could cover this in your homemade caramel instead of the chocolate ganache ? Am using a sticky bun ice cream that has notes of caramel and cinnamon and I think the caramel flavor would pair well.

    1. Should be absolutely delicious! To keep the caramel thinner on such a cold frozen cake, I would add a little more heavy cream to it. (Such as 2/3 cup (160ml) instead of 1/2 (120ml).)

  9. This was a lot easier than I anticipated! Mine wasn’t a pretty since I didn’t have rainbow sprinkles (I used chocolate instead), but my kids said it was their favorite cake ever and if they could only eat one food for the rest of their life, this would be it!

  10. This was so good! I didn’t have any birthdays to make this for, but I’m sure it would be perfect for one. What a good alternative to a traditional homemade ice cream cake!

  11. I wasn’t in the mood for ice cream cake so I did the August 2020 challenge: Homemade Breakfast Pastries. Turned out fabulous!
    I made the dough Saturday morning and refrigerated, rolled and folded Saturday night and refrigerated, then shaped and baked Sunday morning. I liked that I could stretch it out over the weekend and not do everything in one day and take all day. Really helped prevent stressing over time. Another great recipe!

    1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Patti, We are so glad that you enjoyed the recipe!

  12. make this for my husband birthday cake. it was easier than i expected and a big hit!

  13. This recipe was so fun to make! The cake had great flavor and loved the festive sprinkles baked inside!

  14. This was so fun to make! Make sure to pick the right ice cream — I accidentally went with cookies and cream and I think plain vanilla or as Sally used, the chocolate chip ice cream, would have worked better. Cookies and cream is good, but didn’t pair so well with the light funfetti cake.

  15. Mary Jo Carson says:

    As always instructions perfect! As always my cutting needs improvement! Cake delicious.

  16. This was great – the ganache put it over the top for me to 5 stars! We typically are a simple ice cream cake house – but this was a fun treat. I did use fast free greek yogurt (that is what I had on hand, forgot to purchase full fat) with whole milk and I thought the cake came out well. I also bought those round sprinkles – which added a nice crunch. We used Cookies & Cream Ice Cream, which tasted good, but the large chunks of cookie were sometimes difficult to slice through! I appreciated being able to make the cake a couple of days ahead of time for a Sunday family dinner. Thanks for another great recipe. Looking forward to September already!

  17. Kristin Miles says:

    It took longer due to the freezing process but was so worth it!

  18. LOVE this recipe! So simple and fun to make! I will need to add more ice cream tho next time. I don’t think I quite added a pint in each layer, so I’ll definitely do that next time! Thanks, Sally!

  19. The cake is delicious on its own, but add ice cream and ganache, oh my, it’s sublime. I omitted the sprinkles, my husband and I don’t care for them.

  20. Lauren Collier says:

    Fun to make and I enjoyed the challenge, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I would make it with milk chocolate ganache rather than semi sweet – the bitterness of the semi sweet just didn’t seem to fit the flavor profile in my opinion.

  21. Kathleen Prudencio says:

    Exactly what your expect from ice cream cake!

  22. Diane Schmidtke says:

    I used salted caramel ice cream with the cake. It was a big hit with the family.

  23. This was pretty easy and a great summer treat! I think next time I might use a little more ice cream and add another layer of ganache.

  24. The cake was super simple to whip up and simply delicious. I made it for my husband’s birthday and my two year old loved helping, especially dumping the sprinkles in. Thanks for a great recipe, Sally!!

  25. My kids and I had a blast making this fun cake on a hot August day! This recipe is definitely a keeper; it was so easy and delicious!

  26. Krystal Turner says:

    It was a fun project that I did as part of the baking challenge.

    The good: The cake came out great and I layered with strawberry ice cream.

    The bad: The ganache did not set right for me and was still soupy when adding to the cake.

    To consider: there are multiple “wait” steps so make sure you have a day or two to assemble.

  27. This was delicious and a huge hit at a family dinner party! Thanks for another great recipe- you are my go-to for baking!

  28. What a fun recipe. It was easier than I thought. Hardest part, like was mentioned, was cutting the three layers. Mine was not as pretty as Sally’s but it tasted really good and the cake was soft and moist. I transported it to my book club and it was ready to slice when I got there. Everyone loved it! This would be a fun birthday or celebration cake.

  29. Carrie Kuntz says:

    I have Celiac and love to try new recipes. Your ice cream cake calls for cake flour, can I use Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour by adding a cornstarch component to it, if so how much cornstarch and how much sifting should I do? If not what do you suggest? I love your recipes and I’m willing to try and covert to non-gluten when possible. Thank you!

    1. Hi Carrie! Thank you so much. I don’t want to make any promises or predictions of outcome since I haven’t tested the recipe that way. You can certainly try it. And if you do, let us know how it turns out for you. I would definitely sift the mixture a few times before using.

  30. This recipe was easy to make and so much fun to devour especially since its so hot and humid!!I hope next time I’ll have a birthday to make it for. Delicious!!

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