Zebra cake is probably one of my signature styles. I saw it once online and the second I saw it, I knew I had to try to recreate it. I am a big fan of creating my cakes from the inside out. Anyone can dump batter in a pan and toss it in the oven, but not everyone can create something special with that batter. I suppose it is a skill that can be perfected. Whenever I cut one of these cakes open, people always ask, “How did you DO that??” I’ve even had professional bakers who work in fancy bakeries comment on my flickr photos asking how the heck I created these cakes. There are a lot of factors involved ranging from the consistency of the batter to the pan you use.
I have found that zebra cake works best with a round pan. I’ve attempted it with other shapes, but the nature of the design just doesn’t work so well unless it can flatten out evenly until a circular shape.
You’ll need at least two colors of batter. You can do this by dying batter different colors with food coloring or using different flavors. I’ve done chocolate/strawberry and things like that. This cake is for a Yo Gabba Gabba themed birthday party and one of the monsters is striped two shades of green. I thought this would translate perfectly.
When I mix my batter, I usually follow my recipe up until the liquids. I add about an extra teaspoon of oil and I usually spare a bit of the water. It’s hard to say how much, but I can tell you that you want your batter to be able to hold it’s own. No runny liquidy batter. I add water a bit at a time until it has a pudding consistency.
Separate your batter accordingly and grease your pan well! When I use a springform pan, I cover the bottom in wax paper… if I don’t I inevitably destroy my cake because I’m impatient and can’t wait until it’s cool enough to pop out.
Find two spoons the same size and start building from the center. Three tablespoons of the first color and then to the center of that, three tablespoons of the next color etc. Keep building, always from the center. Never try to smooth the batter with the spoon or shake the pan or try to settle the batter by hitting the pan on the counter. Gravity needs to do this work for you!
As your batter spreads, it’s going to look like a bulls eye. This is perfect.
Once all your batter is in and gravity has drug all the batter to the edges, I give you permission to give it one tiny wiggle, just to even it out. The normal bake time and temp for your recipe should be the same, though you’ll want to check up on it, as with any new experiment!
Extra batter? That’s a snack for you! Duh.
When your cake comes out, if it was a success, you should still have the bulls eye on top! Crispy browned… but when you level off your top, you’ll see the magic!
There, now that wasn’t so hard, was it? Sit back and marvel in your awesomeness. Enjoy your snack.
I wish I could cut this cake to show you the results, but you’ll just have to trust that this came out perfectly!
Here’s a photo of a chocolate/strawberry zebra cake I made:
Well, I hope I did okay for my first tutorial! Please try this out and tell me how it went for you! Ask any questions you may have and let me know if you think I could have done something better!
And guess what… if you mess it up! Marble it! All is never lost when it comes to cake. It’s still going to taste great and your friends and family will still love you just as much!