Zebra Cake

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Hands-on time:
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Yield: 1 9" round cake

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Chocolate or vanilla, chocolate or vanilla? It's an eternal debate for bakers trying to please a crowd. This fun and festive recipe combines chocolate and vanilla batter in the pan to create "zebra" stripes satisfying everyone, especially those who love a touch of whimsy. This cake also bakes up light and tender, ready to accept your favorite icing, and is the perfect size for a small gathering or after school snacking.

Zebra Cake

star rating (37) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 1 9" round cake
Published: 05/17/2010


Tips from our bakers

  • Be sure to use dutched cocoa with this recipe. Natural cocoa will result in a heavy, soapy taste to the cake.
  • This cake makes an excellent snack cake with just a dusting of confectioners' sugar, or even plain. It's hard to resist those fun stripes!


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1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 9" x 2" round baking pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment, and spritz again. Set the pan aside.

2) In the bowl of your mixer, blend the sugar and eggs until lightened, about 2 minutes. On low speed blend in the oil, milk and vanilla until well combined and smooth.

3) In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk to remove any lumps. Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients. Combine on medium speed 1-2 minutes or until the batter is smooth and lump free. Be sure to scrape down the bowl halfway through mixing.

4) Remove 2 cups of the vanilla batter and place it in the measure you used for the liquid ingredients. Sift the cocoa over this batter, and stir well to combine. Be sure to use a sifter to avoid cocoa lumps in the batter.

5) Now for the stripes. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of vanilla batter into the center of the cake pan. Next, spoon 3 tablespoons of the chocolate batter into the center of the vanilla batter. This causes the vanilla batter to spread out. Continue to alternate batters, in bulls-eye fashion until all batter is used. You will now have thin rings of each batter on the outer edges of the pan, thicker rings towards the center.

6) Bake the cake in the center of the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, or until the cake is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, and then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Frost as desired.


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  • star rating 09/12/2014
  • Holly - JoyHouse Baker from Fennville, Michigan
  • I added almond flavor to the vanilla portion and bittersweet cocoa and espresso powder to the chocolate. The rings of batter came out perfectly and made a beautiful design, although I ended up with a bit of extra batter that I baked in a teeny--tiny pan for yummy samples :) I piped two-tone (chocolate and vanilla of course!) buttercream rosettes and polka dots on the top and edges to accent the striped top. I just won a first place ribbon in the marble cake division at the fair! :) This was one of the entries that helped to earn the best-of-show ribbon for overall baking entries for me! Thanks KAF - You guys are my BFF~! :)
  • star rating 11/12/2012
  • Michelle from Wilton, CT
  • Very pretty but dry and tasteless. We were very disappointed:(
  • star rating 01/12/2012
  • Rolling_In_Dough from KAF Community
  • I love this cake. It was so much fun make and it looks great without requiring icing. It makes a great every day cake. My boys loved it. I think next time I will add a little rum to the cake to complement the chocolate. This pattern was so much fun, now I wonder how I could achieve a cow pattern. Thanks KAF!
    It seems that pouring the different batters in haphazard sections (NOT from the center outward) would work. ~Amy
  • star rating 05/11/2011
  • heatherlchandler from KAF Community
  • I had high hopes for this recipe. The presentation was so fun and quirky, I just couldn't wait to bake it! I did read several of the reviews before attempting this recipe, so I was prepared for what some called "bland, tasteless" cake. I even tripled the vanilla to a full tablespoon. The assembly went well, with nice concentric rings of chocolate and vanilla stripes. Baking time was much more than recipe calls for: I needed almost an hour before toothpick came out clean. Upon cooling, the cake collapsed drastically, but I was still hopeful that I could cover the uneven sides and surface with frosting. I am glad I tested this at home before baking for an event: when I cut into the cake, the zebra stripes were more blended than strikingly obvious. And the taste....Ugh! This cake bakes up very tasteless and boring. Even with the extra vanilla, there is not much to give this cake any flavor. The texture is very nice and dense. It reminds me of a heavy pound cake or even a flourless chocolate cake. But there is no flavor! Especially paired with a sweet chocolate buttercream frosting, this cake tastes like flour paste. Sorry, King Arthur, but I have to say that this recipe is a dud.
  • star rating 03/11/2011
  • phusted from KAF Community
  • It lacked personality. Maybe the stripes were unusual, but who cares if the cake doesn't taste special.
    We hope you are able to use your favorite chocolate / vanilla cake recipes to create a zebra cake that will meet your taste needs. Glad you enjoyed the journey of making a cake with stripes. Irene @ KAF
  • star rating 01/24/2011
  • Suzzanna from KAF Community
  • I agree with many other reviewers that this case looks very impressive, but is pretty tasteless. I threw almost the whole cake out. I'm sure I'll use this technique again to make a striped cake, but I'll use another recipe. Even a box mix would taste better. This recipe, as written, is a waste of ingredients.
    Sorry you didn't like this cake. Thanks for your feedback. - kelsey@KAF
  • star rating 01/20/2011
  • cecey9 from KAF Community
  • I have to say I was a bit disappointed with the results of this cake. It looked pretty enough but the texture & taste left a bit to be desired. The chocolate was fine but the yellow was bland. It was crumby but not in a good way - hard to explain but all of my yrs of baking cakes I knew it wasn't right. I also found it to be greasy in feel. Someone else said that in the blog so when I chose the recipe I thought to myself, what are they talking about but after I made it I understood. I am not sure I did anything wrong - I've been baking cakes for more than 3/4 of my life so I am pretty adept at it - I guess ya never know if you don't try it!!
  • star rating 10/06/2010
  • leafpeeper from KAF Community
  • I've made this cake many times & it always turns out great - it's become a requested favorite with my family and friends. I have not had any of the problems mentioned in the other comments (such as oilyness, clumps, lack of taste). I'll be doubling the recipe and trying it as a layered marble cake for my niece's birthday this weekend - hope it turns out as good as the zebra!
  • star rating 08/11/2010
  • bevboyer from KAF Community
  • I love this cake. The presentation is wonderful. Those stripes make the length of preparation worthwhile. It does take a little longer to prepare than an ordinary cake but it is worth every extra minute. My cake did not get oily and the taste was good. I have made this several times and each time it tasted very good. It has a texture like pound cake. Thanks for the terrific recipe. Everyone loved it.
  • star rating 08/09/2010
  • HMB from KAF Community
  • Visually, it's terrific. Very easy to make. Tastewise, blah. Needs more vanilla or something. I frosted it with some chocolate raspberry ganache I had in my freezer leftover from my husband's birthday cake, so that "saved" the cake.
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