A French style of cake, not called Napolitain on account of any association with Napoleon, but rather because it was made in the “style” of desserts from Naples, which were often layers of different colours, textures and tastes.
This style of cake used to be made very huge, as a dazzling piece of showmanship to be set on tables.
Some versions, such as the one pictured, displayed the layers on the outside. This particular version of a Napolitain was called “historié”, meaning “storied”, as in having several stories or levels.
Others would hide the layers inside to delight the guests once it was cut open. These would be a layered cake, square, round or hexagonal. The layers would be baked separately, cooled, and then spread each with different kind and colour of a fruit jelly, preserve or purée. The layers would then be assembled, coated with apricot jam, covered with Royal Icing and decorated.
Today, a far smaller version survives in the “Tranche Napolitaine.”