This is just a beautiful cake. I baked it today and wanted to share the recipe with you. I like looking at Zebra cake more that eating it even though it is incredibly delicious. I am not the original creator of this cake, although I wish I were:) I heard that Zebra cake is very popular in Eastern Europe. It could have traveled all the way to Azerbaijan from there long time ago. Who knows.
Zebra Cake goes perfectly well with a cup of strong black tea. By the way, Azerbaijanis are big on tea. It is the most popular drink in the country. We always drink our tea with something sweet, such a cube of sugar, preserve, sweets and cakes.
Looking at the picture you may think zebra patterns are difficult to make. Believe me, they are not. If you follow the recipe carefully you will get similar results, if not better. I experimented with 2 different recipes I had and the one I am posting turned out better that the other. Zebra Cake is easy and fun to make, it’s beautiful and just irresistibly delicious! My daughter loved it, and she insisted we should go to the zoo to see real zebras ASAP! That’s later. Here’s the cake. Enjoy!
UPDATE - JULY 3, 2008: I have made the cake several times after I posted the recipe on the blog to make sure my recipe is 100% correct and the result is what you see in the picture. The only thing I changed is I now say use 2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder and specify which exactly, instead of 4-5 tablespoons I wrote before. Too much cocoa powder will thicken your dark batter. My apologies if you used the old quantity and your dark batter didn’t quite work. Also, if baking powder is not available, you can substitute it with 1 teaspoon baking soda.
PLEASE USE THE FOLLOWING RECIPE WITH CONFIDENCE! IT’S BEEN TESTED AND TRIED BY YOURS TRULY MANY TIME NOW TO GUARANTEE AMAZING RESULTS! ANY QUESTIONS, PLEASE EMAIL ME!
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking 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 (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, 9 inch (23 cm) non-stick round cake pan.
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs and sugar. Using a hand-held electric mixer or wire whisk beat until the mixture is creamy and light in color
2. Add milk and oil, and continue beating until well blended.
3. In a separate bowl, combine and mix 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 OVERBEAT 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 cocoa powder into another and mix well.
5. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
6. Lightly grease the pan with oil. If you don’t have 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 a baking pan. This is what you do. Scoop 3 heaped tablespoons of 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 cocoa batter and pour it 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 by itself and fill the pan gradually. Continue alternating the batters until you finish them. The pictures below will guide you through.
This is how the cake will look before it goes in the oven.
8. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes. Do not open the oven door at least the first 20 minutes or the cake will shrink and will not rise. To check if the cake is ready, insert a toothpick into the center. It should come out clean when ready. Remove from the oven. Immediately run a small thin knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake, then invert the cake onto a cooking rack. Turn the cake back over and let cool. You can sprinkle the top of the cake with some powdered (confectioner’s) sugar or leave it plain.