Striped Delight: Zebra Cake

Earlier this week, I received an email from King Arthur Flour advertising a sale. At the bottom of the email, there was a photo and blurb promoting a recipe for Zebra Cake, a fantastical-looking creation with wavy black and white stripes. I checked out the KA Flour Baking Banter Blog and was surprised to see how easy it was to achieve the striped effect. I couldn't wait to try it for myself.

I won't spend any time describing how to make the cake, since the photos and explanation on the Baking Banter Blog pretty much cover everything. My stripes are a little wider than the ones in the King Arthur photos, but I did get a wonderful zebra stripe effect.

I made a double batch of batter and baked two 9-inch round cakes. I had considered putting the double batch of batter into a single 9-inch by 13-inch rectangular pan, but I wasn't sure how the stripe pattern would work out in a rectangle and I didn't want to risk it. I'm really glad I didn't. I cut one of my round cakes radially (cuts radiating from the center outward, as one would normally cut a round cake into wedges), and all of the slices looked like the photo above, with a beautiful wavy stripe pattern. I experimented with the other cake and and cut it orthogonally (into squares). Instead of parallel zebra stripes, I got what looked a lot like wood grain, as you can see in the picture below.

So, if you make this cake in a rectangular pan and cut square slices, you'll get wood grain. While it's sort of interesting looking, it looks messy and random. I think the reason the zebra cake looks so neat is the fact that the parallel stripes look organized and deliberate. The wood grain looks more like something you might have achieved by accident with a regular marble cake.

As far as the flavor of this cake, it's pretty meh. Although it was very moist, it didn't taste like much of anything. I would strongly suggest that if you try making this recipe, you should definitely add some frosting to give the cake a flavor boost (I would have frosted the cake if I had thought frosting would survive the commute to work on a 90+ degree day; I generally avoid bringing anything with frosting to work during hot weather). With some frosting, I'm already thinking that this would make a really fun two-layer birthday cake for kids. And heck, now if anyone ever requests a wood grain cake, I know how to make that, too!

Recipe: Zebra Cake from King Arthur Flour.


bd20009 said…
the wood grain is pretty darn funny. maybe for an 80s party - it would be reminiscent of wood paneling in the rumpus room
Louise said…
I'm glad you tried this as I looked at it. I'll have to make it for the novelty, but maybe kick it up with ganache. Sometime when you are looking for a really tasty, but really easy, chocolate cake, think of trying this -- No frosting needed. Susan Purdy includes this in her "Piece of Cake" book as Marvelous Mud Cake and adds an extra egg yolk plus 1/4 cup of sour cream. Maida Heatter had it in her "Book of Great Chocolate Desserts" and said she like to use it at demonstrations because people were eager to make it at home. I bake it in a kugelhopf pan.