It all started so innocently. I was browsing the King Arthur Flour site (#bakingnerd) looking for something to make with my 3-year-old son, Gus, and stumbled upon this recipe. It’s called Zebra Cake and it has stripes inside. Sold!
I was shocked by how simple it was. Make a vanilla cake. Add cocoa powder to half of the batter. Dollop puddles of alternating batters in a pan. Bake. Slice for the big reveal. Hmm. Seemed too good to be true.
But guys, it WORKED! It really worked!! I was charmed. Gus was charmed. We spread it with frosting and gobbled it up. (Scroll down for the full how-to.)
And then, months later, I made the mistake of asking him what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday. The conversation went something like this:
Me: Hey, Gus, what kind of birthday cake do you want?
Gus: A zebra bear.
Me: A zebra bear??
Me: Do you want the zebra part on the inside or the outside?
It seems that Gus had fond memories of that zebra cake, too, but had decided to up the ante a bit. Luckily, about a week after this conversation, the lovely folks from Wilton, who know everything there is to know about cakes, were visiting our offices. When they wrapped up their presentation, they asked if there were any questions. I piped up and told them about my zebra bear cake challenge. They suggested this awesome pan. And a few weeks later, I actually pulled it off.
But that’s not what you’re here for.
While I spent way too much time attempting to craft a zebra bear birthday cake, I’d suggest that you make a regular zebra cake, which is sure to impress pretty much anyone, except a demanding 3-year-old.
Yes, I’m the type of person who would consider making a zebra bear cake, but when I tell you this process is easy, I’m serious. It’s. SO. SIMPLE. You can use the King Arthur recipe (which makes one 9-inch round cake) or you can use your favorite yellow or white cake recipe and flavor half the batter with cocoa powder. You could also absolutely use a boxed cake mix for this. (I promise not to tell.) And don’t limit yourself to black and white (or brown and white). You could color half the batter red. Or blue. Or divide the batter into thirds and leave one third white, color one third red, and color the remaining third blue for the world’s most patriotic zebra. You do you.
No matter your color combination, the process is still the same.
1. Make your two (or more) batters.
2. Spoon a bit (the King Arthur recipe calls for 3 tablespoons) of one of the batters into the center of the pan.
3. Top with the other batter, pouring the second batter into the center of the first cake batter blob.
4. Repeat, creating concentric circles, until you use all the batter. You will have skinny rings on the outside of the pan and larger circle shapes toward the center of the pan. That doesn’t seem like it should work, but it will. NOTE: Don’t worry if your batter blobs aren’t all the same shape or size. Zebra stripes aren’t perfect, so imperfect stripes are just right.
This all seems a little complicated when it’s written out, but if you’re a visual learner like I am, this should clear things up. See? Easy! Also note that my blobs were far from perfect.
When it comes out of the oven, it'll look like this, which doesn't seem that impressive, but have faith. NOTE: You see that crack? It's not a big deal. That's what frosting is for.
Top it with you favorite frosting, cut yourself a slice, and admire those stripes!
Now it's your turn to make it! Tag your zebra cake photos with #RRMagFan