I'd seen this cake on a few blogs recently (here and here for example) and I really wanted to give it a try....not so much because I wanted to eat it but more because I wanted to see if I could successfully pull off the technique. In fact, the reviews I read regarding the taste of the cake itself were lukewarm, so this cake is all about looks. Late last week I set out to make the cake so Shane could bring it to work with him on Friday.
The zebra look is achieved by alternately dropping vanilla and chocolate batter into the pan, relying on the weight of each layer to push the one below it out. I won't lie - this takes a decent amount of patience. I think I probably spent 20-30 minutes just getting the batter into the pan, but I'd have to say it's worth it. It looked really cool even before it baked up.
When it came out of the oven the top of the cake had maintained the zebra look. I REALLY wanted to see what the inside of the cake looked like, but I didn't want to cut into it before Shane brought it to work. Luckily for me, he took a few pictures of the inside as the folks at work started to dig in (he didn't have the best lighting to work with as you'll see). So cool - I loved how it turned out! Reviews from his coworkers on flavor were good but I definitely think people were more impressed with the look. I'll probably make this cake again, but as some other bloggers suggested, it might be fun to switch up the cake recipe a bit to improve the flavor.
from Brown Eyed Baker
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk (low fat is fine)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with a circle of parchment paper and lightly grease the bottom and sides of the pan.
In a large bowl, mix together eggs and sugar until mixture is light and creamy and the sugar has mostly been dissolved. Stir in milk, vegetable oil, vanilla and almond extracts.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Pour into wet ingredients and whisk to combine. Measure out just over two cups of vanilla batter and place it back in the medium bowl. Sift cocoa powder over the bowl and whisk until fully incorporated.
Put 3 tbsp of vanilla batter into the center of the pan and let it spread slightly on its own. Put 3 tbsp of chocolate batter in the center of the vanilla. It will push out the other batter and, as it sits for a moment, will also spread itself. Alternating spoonfuls of the two batters, repeat the technique until all the batter has been used up.
Bake for 38-42 minutes, until the cake is light gold and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Let the cake cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then turn out the cake and remove the parchment paper. Reinvert on to a wire rack and let cool before slicing.
Frosting - I used the Hershey's Chocolate Frosting recipe that I find to be both really easy and tasty! Recipe can be found here.