Zebra cake

A zebra cake is basically a chocolate marble cake. The difference is in the pattern. Instead of the marbling created by running a knife through randomly dropped blobs of vanilla and chocolate cake batter, the zebra pattern is created by pouring small cupfuls of vanilla and chocolate cake batter one on top of the other. The last cupful of batter poured pushes the one below it causing it to spread.

I didn’t invent the idea for the zebra cake. I found the recipe in Farida’s Azerbaijani Cookbook a while back and the link has been in my Food from all over page for months. I’ve been promising myself to try it but it wasn’t until tonight that I had a chance. By “chance” I mean I just happened to have all the ingredients I needed.

Unfortunately, I did not have time to take step-by-step photos. Perhaps, next time. And I’m sure there will be a next time because my kids loved the cake. In my younger daughter’s words, “Astig!


2 c. of all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. of baking powder
1/2 tsp. of salt
4 large eggs
1 c. plus 1 tbsp. of white sugar
1 c. of milk (I used skim milk, the pour and drink kind)
1 c. of vegetable oil
1 tsp. of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s)

Preheat the oven to 350oF.

If you don’t have a non-stick baking pan (I used silicone), lightly brush the sides and bottom of a 10-inch round pan with oil.

Stir the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the eggs and sugar until smooth and light colored, about two minutes on high speed of a hand mixer. Add the oil and milk, and mix for another minute.

Add the flour mixture and mix just until blended. The batter will be of pouring consistency but not thin.

Stir in the vanilla.

Pour half of the batter into another bowl. Add the cocoa powder to one portion and stir lightly to blend.

Assemble the cake. Place the baking pan in front of you. Place the bowl of white cake batter to the left of the pan and the bowl of chocolate batter to the right of the pan. Take two small cups of equal sizes (I used two 1/4 measuring cups). Pour a cupful of the white cake batter onto the center of the pan. Then, pour a cupful of the chocolate batter directly at the center of the cupful of white cake batter. Repeat until all the cake batter has been poured into the pan.

In the original recipe, it says don’t wait for the batter to spread before pouring in the next cupful. I followed that instruction. So, I was working fast pouring cupfuls of white and chocolate cake batter alternately into the pan.

Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean. Mine took exactly 55 minutes to bake.

Cool the cake a bit before inverting onto a plate. It won’t hurt to invert the cake while still warm since the top is dry with a very light crusty texture.

We ate the cake while it was still warm. To be more precise, I inverted the cake onto a plate about 15 minutes after it came out of the oven. When I was slicing it, when the knife went in, steam came out from inside the cake. Did it crumble? No, it didn’t. It’s a great cake, really. Not too fine and airy like a chiffon cake but not too dense like most batter-type cakes.

I’m thinking of applying the zebra technique by creating a cake with three colors. You know, divide the batter into three portions, color one portion with red food color and flavor it with strawberry extract, another with green color and apple flavor, and the third can stay white with the original vanilla flavor. But that’s for another time. :)

  • Dot

    I love, love marbled cake and this is awesome! I can’t wait to try this. Thanks for the great recipes.

  • http://audch.blogspot.com Audrey

    This cake looks so tasty, I’m going to give it a try soon. Thanks!

    • gigi

      sure is ASTIG!!! great idea with the colors as well! panalo n naman ito miss connie :-)

      • http://www.flakydoc.multiply.com Ging

        That looks really cool! Will try that this weekend.

      • sue fabia

        hi connie,

        i am just curious…my question is not related to the zebra cake…do you use a hand mixer or a stand mixer for baking?

        (i know, i know, it has nothing to do with all the baked goodies that come out of your kitchen….curious lang ako.)


        • http://homecookingrocks.com Connie

          Hand mixer. I used to have a stand mixer, used it only for about 2 months, then the house helper forced the paddle off the grrove without pushing the release latch and it was totally unusable after that. Went back to my trusty 17-year-old hand mixer. :)

          • jinky

            Hi Ms. Connie,

            Its been a while since I last posted a comment here, but been browsing your site regularly..
            I did try baking the zebra cake twice last christmas and it sure was an easy one. On the first try my cake turned out a bit dense, but on the second try it was ok. I got the link here in your site got curious by the name and tried it. She also has a very detailed recipe.
            Tho’ a bit late but thanks for the link…:-)

          • emyM

            that’s impressive…
            got to try this for sure

          • shoppingera

            looks easy and yummy.. gotta try this one soon. thx again.. i’ll wait for you to post the red and green combination.:)

          • claudine charie

            I made it!!! LOL! I really sucks in baking but through this recipe at last my misadventure became an adventure in the kitchen. I was so proud of my myself. I even show it to my hubby before we dig in. Thanks Ms. Sassy:))

          • http://www.homecookingrocks.com Connie

            Great!!! I can imagine the feeling. Must be something similar to the way I felt after the first baking project that didn’t turn out to be a disaster hehehe

          • apple

            Hi Miss Connie!

            I have a question regarding the ovens. I know you use a traditional oven for all your baking.. I do too before in my mom’s house whenever I bake brfore. But I am a newly wed (2 1/2 mos ^_^) and we got this wonderful convection oven a relative gave us for our new home. I don’t know if the result of baking in a convection oven will be the same with using the traditional ones.

            I wanted to try this recipe you posted (actually, I saw the rainbow cake first and immediately fell in love with both!) but I am worried that if I use our oven, I won’t have the same effect.

            Please help!

            Thank you so much!

          • http://www.homecookingrocks.com Connie

            A convection oven is much, much better. The heat is more evenly distributed and cooking time is shorter. I have a convection oven (we brought it from the old house) but it still needs a housing (it’s a built-in type) together with the cooking hob that we used in the old house. We have a secondary (outdoor) kitchen and we plan to use it there. When it’s all set up, that’s what I’ll use for baking cakes. Gas oven is great for stews but for bread and cakes, convection is best. :)

          • apple

            Ok! I got it! Thank you very much and more power! I will definitely try this one out. :)

          • http://loribel_pambid@yahoo.com lorie

            hi connie,
            I try to bake the zebra cake its amazing I got it perfect i followed ur instuctions how to make it and its awesome and of course taste yummy,im always browsing ur site whats the new recipe that you post. your a great cook…. tnx for this i will try again the rainbow cake but i have to buy first a round pan to bake,good job connie..

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          • Carole L WOods

            Good Morning!

            I work in an office with 22 employees and have been making birthday cakes for everyone for several years now. I search for different ideas so I can come up with something different each time and I ran across your Zebra Cake.

            Can this be made as a layer cake using 8 or 9″ round pans and using cake mixes? I like to use cake mixes and add extra ingredients or flavoring to make them a little more original.


          • Connie

            Why should you need more than one layer?

          • Carole L WOods

            Because I just usually do 2 layer cakes and didn’t think it would make any difference. I am still wondering if by using cake mixes it would still have the same marbeling effect.

          • Connie

            You can split the cake horizontally if you want to put frosting in between. A shorter cake might not have a good pattern. Can’t say about ready mixes since I don’t use them. The trick with this cake, really, is the uniform consistency of both the light and dark mixes.

  • http://fahrenheit350.blogspot.com/ Kitty

    That is beautiful!

  • ana

    Hi Connie! i’ve been reading your blog since I got married at 2007 :D so helpful for a new cook like me!Thanks! Anyway my question is about the milk, i dunno if that exists here in France. Can I use evaporated milk?

    • kitkathie

      Hi, Ms Connie. I will be trying your zebra cake today!

    • http://homecookingrocks.com Connie

      Yes, I suppose you can. But I suggest diluting it with water.

      • happy joy

        40 minutes more… makikita ko na (at matitikman) ang outcome ng zebra cake na nasa oven ngayon! thanks for the recipe ms.connie!

        • http://roxiegirl.blogspot.com roxiegirl

          hello ms connie, this is indeed an interestingly new twist to the chocolate marble cake. I made one, brought it to the office and it was an instant hit! thanks for sharing!

    • forlornx

      I will like to ask whether you can steam this zebra cake, following your recipe. Will it taste not as good?

      • http://homecookingrocks.com Connie

        I don’t know. Never tried steaming cake except for puto.

        • forlornx

          Sorry to ask again, but is it okay if I used a 8-inch round baking tin? It will be a taller cake but will it in any way affect the texture?

          • http://homecookingrocks.com Connie

            It’s the baking time and temperature that will have to be adjusted to make sure the texture stays the same. Can’t say the texture will be the same if you steam the cake though.

          • mamanina

            hi! this recipe is so perfect for my son’s safari themed birthday party. i plan to make this as his birthday cake…i’ll be trying this recipe this weekend. instead of a 10 inch round baking pan, can i use a rectangular pan? Do you have any idea what size of rectangular pan should i be using? can i also use this method using cupcake molders? thanks a lot :)

          • http://www.homecookingrocks.com Connie

            I don’t think the pattern will look uniform if a rectangular pan is used. Cupcake molders, yes, but only tablespoonfuls of the batter should be poured.

          • http://Facebook.com/NotMadeinaFactory Renae

            I’m wondering, with using, say a 11″x15″ pan, instead of having just the one scoop in the middle, do a scoop on each side, so you have 2 piles of batter? I am dying to use this method for a sweet 16 cake this weekend, and the theme is zebra. They originally wanted marbled and I just cannot get this idea out of my head.

          • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

            If you have tow people pouring the batters at the same time…

        • rheiz

          ms connie, is there no alternative for the cocoa powder? i only have dark chocolate at home, can i melt and use that instead?

          thanks in advance.. ur website is included in my “favorites” :) love ur cookings :)

          • Connie

            Chocolate bars contain more oil than cocoa powder. If you substitute, the choco batter will be heavier than the white batter and will result in an uneven cake.

          • rheiz

            thanks miss connie, i bought a small pack of cocoa powder to use this weekend.. i am going to try this and post it on FB :)

            Happy cooking ;)

          • Lavanya

            I like your zebra cake. I am planning to make it for my kids bdays. however i’m confused- a lot of recipes i have seen and done before shows for when about 2 cups flour used we need 2 of the 9″ round cake baking pans, but from your recipe it seems like you used only one. can you please confirm.

          • Connie

            We’re a small family. We don’t need two cakes. :)

          • yhonna

            hi ms. connie, would olive oil, canola oil or coconut oil work as vegetable oil? this is the only ingredient that i am not sure of right now… and can i use the springform with this?


          • Connie

            Not olive oil not canola oil, definitely, as the flavor is too strong. Has to be neutral tasting. If by coconut oil you mean extra virgin coconut oil, it won’t work either. I recommend corn oil.

            I don’t recommend a springform pan because the batter is very thin and may leak out.

          • YHONNA

            thanks a lot for the tips. good thing i didn’t start yet…

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          • yhonna

            hi! i only have small eggs in my kitchen. will 5 pcs do? thanks!!!

          • Connie

            You can always buy large eggs. :)

          • yhonna

            I wish i can but the ones in the supermarket here are also not large enough. I am in a small city in Mindanao where ingredients are so hard to find. Even those as common as eggs run out in the only supermarket. I miss my Cebu City!!!!
            Oh well, i guess this is where experimenting comes in..

          • Connie

            If you search Google, you may be able to find the equivalent. When you said five, I didn’t want to guess because I’ve never used small eggs for this cake.

          • YHONNA

            thanks again. i really appreciate your time answering my inquiries :)

          • Connie

            No problem. :)

          • YHONNA

            Ms. Connie, i looked into Google and it’s said there that 4 large eggs (2oz per egg) is equivalent to 5 small ones. But it doesn’t follow that 5 large eggs is equivalent to 6 small ones. It is equal to 7 small eggs… Oh well, at least there’s Google to turn to when conversion is needed :)

          • Connie

            I knew there would some something like that. One caveat though — Western standard of what is a “small” or “large” egg may not be the same as ours.

          • yhonna

            Hi again, Ms. Connie. I baked the cake tonight. I found large eggs and bought a 10″ round pan (since I only had 8″ and 9″). I decided I will make substitutions or alterations the next time I do this. For now, I will stick to what the recipe calls for. I bought a new pack of baking powder and also used Hersheys unsweetened cocoa powder.
            My cake didn’t come out nice. Most of the chocolate batter kind of sank to the bottom although I still had the zebra stripes. And, like one comment I read here, it didn’t rise that much. It was only an inch thick (I measured it).
            I just don’t know what went wrong. Maybe baking is really not for me. I’m sad…

          • Connie

            Try checking the expiration date of your baking powder. Or the size of the pan.

          • YHONNA

            It’s a newly-bought baking powder, to expire June 2011. I bought a 10″x2″ round pan for this. I remembered the cake rising when it was baking halfway. My kids’ yayas were even exclaiming, “Te, mu-awas na (Ate, it’s gonna spill out!)! When it was done, it just shrunk.

            It’s ok. We are still eating the cake :) It’s still delicious. Not too sweet (my hubby wanted it sweeter, though) thus, it’s nice to pair either with coffee or soda.

          • Connie

            Oh, it can be the oven temp. Ovens need calibration occasionally because the temp reading might now show the actual temp.

          • yhonna

            Ok, Ms. Connie. Thanks!!!

          • Jean Bondoc

            Hi Ma’am Connie,
            I’ve been a follower of your blog & pinterest board since i got into baking. I’ve tried your cream puffs recipe and very well satisfied with the outcome. I’ve also baked Zebra cake using this recipe, one query though did you use dutch-processed cocoa for this?

          • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

            No. I normally use Hershey’s cocoa.

          • ai

            it’s my son’s birthday this friday, i wanted to bake him this cake. if i’d be putting a filling and frosting what do you think is the best? i’m kind of thinking to use your recipe of choco cream cheese frosting. what do you suggest? i’d appreciate it very much. Thanks.

          • Connie

            A simple chocolate ganache on top.

          • Eiser

            Hi Miss Connie,

            I tried this several times but my cake is not light-colored as in your pic. Not sure if it has something to do with the eggs that I used. Usual eggs here are those with dark shells (not the white ones). I followed the temp u mentioned too and i used thermometer to double check just in case. Good thing it still tastes great :)


          • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

            Some egg yolks are darker than others; just as color of cocoa powder varies (Dutch processed is darker).

          • Eiser

            Must be the eggs and cocoa powder then. I used local cocoa powder too :) Thanks Miss Connie!

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  • http://mintlair.blogspot.com mintlair

    hello ms. connie! I baked this yesterday po. But it wasn’t as nice as yours :( the cake was about an inch thick lang. I don’t know why it did not “rise” that much. Di ko na rin po natapos yung 55minutes baking time because at about 38minutes luto na po yung cake. I’m thinking baka po dahil sa baking powder ko kasi medyo matagal na siya.

    • Connie

      Old baking powder will be a serious issue. :)

      • http://mintlair.blogspot.com mintlair

        I see, ms. connie. How long do you store your baking powder and baking soda? I’ll buy a new one and try this again. thanks, ms connie. :)

        • Connie

          Two months?

  • An Hernandez

    Hi, I tried your Zebra cake for my daughter’s birthday and it was really ASTIG! Many thanks to your very helpful website. :) Now she’s asking me to make a giraffe cake. Hahaha!

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      Just change the chocolate to orange hehehe

  • someya

    Hi made this one today. It tastes great but mine didnt turn out to be a zebra. The layers were mixed into a chocolate cake! Dont know why. Would you plz help me…thank you.