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Zebra Cake

Zebra Cake

Isn’t it just a beautiful cake?  Look at those stripes! Don’t they look like real zebra stripes? They do to me.

Looking at the picture you may think that zebra stripes are difficult to recreate in a cake. But trust me, they are not. Follow my no-fail recipe below and you will get those “OMG! How did you make those stripes?” kind of exclamations from everyone you treat a slice of this cake to. I get those all the time. This makes me feel like an artist, which I am not. It’s just the recipe works. I’ve perfected it by trying it many times, so that all of you out there feel like artists, too. Because, you know, I am generous (and very modest, by the way).

Zebra cake is fun to make. If you have kids, mobilize them to help you. They’ll have a blast. Let’s do it.

Zebra Cake

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 40 minutes
Makes one 9-inch (23 cm) cake


4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (8 oz / 250 g) granulated sugar
1 cup (8 fl oz / 250 ml) milk, at room temperature
1 cup (8 fl oz / 250 ml) oil (olive, corn, vegetable or canola is fine)
2 cups (10 oz / 300 g) all-purpose flour
1/3 teaspoon vanilla powder
1 tablespoon (equals 3 teaspoons) baking powder (if not available, substitute with 1 teaspoon baking soda)
2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder (make sure it is not very bitter) such as Dutch-processed (A word of caution: Sometimes I use Hershey’s natural unsweetened cocoa, but since it is BITTER it takes away from the sweetness of the cake, so it may not be your best choice if you want a sweeter cake. Also Remember! Dark zebra patterns won’t stand out with light cocoa powder)

You’ll Also Need
Mixing bowls
Electric mixer or wire whisk
One 9-inch (23-cm) non-stick round cake pan


1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs and sugar. Using a hand-held electric mixer or a wire whisk, beat until the mixture is creamy and light in color.

2. Add the milk and oil and continue to beat until well blended.

3. In a separate bowl, combine and mix the flour, vanilla powder, and baking powder. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and beat just until the batter is smooth and the dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.  (DO NOT OVER-BEAT to prevent air pockets from forming in the batter.)

This is the consistency of the batter: neither very thick not too loose. If the mixture is too thin, add a little more flour.

4. Divide the mixture into 2 equal portions. Keep one portion plain. Add the cocoa powder into the other and stir to incorporate.

5. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

6. Lightly grease the pan with some oil or butter. If you don’t have a non-stick baking pan, grease whatever pan you have, then line it with parchment paper (baking paper).

7. The most important part is assembling the cake batter in the baking pan. This is what you do. Scoop 3 tablespoonfuls of the plain batter (you can also use a ladle that would hold 3 tablespoons) into the middle of the baking pan. Then scoop 3 tablespoons of the cocoa batter and pour  in the center, on top of the plain batter. IMPORTANT! Do not stop and wait until the previous batter spreads—KEEP GOING! Do not spread the batter or tilt the pan to distribute the mixture. It will spread itself and fill the pan gradually. Continue alternating the batters until they finish. The pictures below will guide you through.

This is how the cake will look before it goes in the oven.

8. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 40 minutes. To check if the cake is ready, insert a toothpick in the center. It should come out clean when ready. Do not open the oven door at least the first 20 minutes or the cake will shrink and will not rise.  Remove the cake the oven. Immediately, run a small, thin knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it, then invert the cake onto a cooking rack. Turn the cake back over and allow to cool completely.

9. You can sprinkle the top of the cake with some powdered (confectioner’s) sugar or leave it plain.

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