A zebra cake is basically a chocolate marble cake. The difference is in the pattern. Instead of the marbling created by running a knife through randomly dropped blobs of vanilla and chocolate cake batter, the zebra pattern is created by pouring small cupfuls of vanilla and chocolate cake batter one on top of the other. The last cupful of batter poured pushes the one below it causing it to spread.
I didn’t invent the idea for the zebra cake. I found the recipe in Farida’s Azerbaijani Cookbook a while back and the link has been in my Food from all over page for months. I’ve been promising myself to try it but it wasn’t until tonight that I had a chance. By “chance” I mean I just happened to have all the ingredients I needed.
Unfortunately, I did not have time to take step-by-step photos. Perhaps, next time. And I’m sure there will be a next time because my kids loved the cake. In my younger daughter’s words, “Astig!”
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup white sugar plus one tablespoon
- 1 cup milk (I used skim milk, the pour and drink kind)
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s)
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- If you don’t have a non-stick baking pan (I used silicone), lightly brush the sides and bottom of a 10-inch round pan with oil.
- Stir the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix the eggs and sugar until smooth and light colored, about two minutes on high speed of a hand mixer. Add the oil and milk, and mix for another minute.
- Add the flour mixture and mix just until blended. The batter will be of pouring consistency but not thin.
- Stir in the vanilla.
- Pour half of the batter into another bowl. Add the cocoa powder to one portion and stir lightly to blend.
- Assemble the cake. Place the baking pan in front of you. Place the bowl of white cake batter to the left of the pan and the bowl of chocolate batter to the right of the pan. Take two small cups of equal sizes (I used two 1/4 measuring cups). Pour a cupful of the white cake batter onto the center of the pan. Then, pour a cupful of the chocolate batter directly at the center of the cupful of white cake batter. Repeat until all the cake batter has been poured into the pan.
- In the original recipe, it says don’t wait for the batter to spread before pouring in the next cupful. I followed that instruction. So, I was working fast pouring cupfuls of white and chocolate cake batter alternately into the pan.
- Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean. Mine took exactly 55 minutes to bake.
- Cool the cake a bit before inverting onto a plate. It won’t hurt to invert the cake while still warm since the top is dry with a very light crusty texture.
We ate the cake while it was still warm. To be more precise, I inverted the cake onto a plate about 15 minutes after it came out of the oven. When I was slicing it, when the knife went in, steam came out from inside the cake. Did it crumble? No, it didn’t. It’s a great cake, really. Not too fine and airy like a chiffon cake but not too dense like most batter-type cakes.
I’m thinking of applying the zebra technique by creating a cake with three colors. You know, divide the batter into three portions, color one portion with red food color and flavor it with strawberry extract, another with green color and apple flavor, and the third can stay white with the original vanilla flavor. But that’s for another time. :)