Take a walk on the wild side: Zebra Cake

Do you remember the first time you made a marble cake? I do. I remember thinking it was the coolest thing in the world to blob the chocolate batter into the vanilla batter like the 5 pips on a die. Two at the top, two at the bottom and one right in the center, symmetry at its best. Then taking a butter knife and swirling the batters together, it was magical. Of course, being young I just had to…

…over-swirl. Yes, over-swirling the batter so that you lose most of the marbling is a common mistake among marble cake newbies, but once you have that under control, there are few things as satisfying as a well-marbled cake. Except maybe for a fun, flirty, funky Zebra Cake, that is!

Believe it or not, the  snappy intricate stripes in the Zebra Cake are so easy to achieve, you’ll wonder just how hard I “work” in the kitchen. Well, you’ll have to take my word for it that some recipes do require me to bust my buns more than others, but some are so easy and produce such beautiful results they must be sent by those angels who watch over hardworking bakers, and I’ll take one any day of the week. Especially if it means I get to pass it along to all of you, to boot.

I’ve always had an affinity for black and white. I love the high contrast of the stark white and the solid black. My poor mother complained more than once when I was a teen about the profusion of black clothing in my closet, and I still buy several white shirts for each season. Right now I own no less than four white tank tops, and an equal number of white T-shirts, with several white turtlenecks now safely tucked away in SpaceBags until next fall. Hey, white does go with everything!

While studying art in college, my favorite medium was pen and ink. You guessed it, fine black lines on white paper just drew me in (no pun intended) and I felt at home. I think that’s one reason why I love Pysanky so much. Most of my work is bold contrasts of colors and black is a big favorite for my final color. Come to think of it, I now remember my parents having to go talk to my kindergarten teacher about my coloring pages. Apparently in Catholic kindergarten in the 1970s, coloring the snowman on the paper all black was NOT the thing to do. I’m not sure why I did it, but I think it had something to do with a book I used to read about a witch who made black snow. That would definitely be my kind of winter, and I drew what I liked.

As you can imagine, I’ve always loved zebra stripes as a motif. I’ve owned zebra socks, shirts, and hairbands. I never did get a pair of zebra stretch pants in the 1980s, but I would have loved them. I’ve doodled zebra stripes, painted zebra stripes, and I prefer to think of my stretch marks as zebra stripes. (TMI? Sorry!). And now I get to cap off a lifetime of zebramania with BAKING zebra stripes. Man, life is good.

Ready to stripe up your life? Let’s make Zebra Cake!


Combine the milk, oil and vanilla in a 2-cup liquid measure. If you’re baking with school-aged kids, this is a great way to show them about different densities of liquids, as the milk and oil will separate into distinct layers, and the vanilla will suspend. Hey, baking is science!

Preheat the oven to 350°F . Spritz one 9” x 2” round cake pan with cooking spray. Line with a parchment circle and spritz again.


In the bowl of your stand mixer blend the sugar and eggs until well combined and lightened, about 2 minutes. Add the oil/milk/vanilla and blend until smooth.

In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt, and whisk well. Add to the liquids in the mixer and beat for 1 to 2 minutes. Don’t forget to scrape the bowl down partway through the mixing.


Pour 2 cups of the vanilla batter into the liquid measure you used before. The batter is on the thinner side, but this is important to the final outcome of the cake.


Sift the cocoa over the remaining batter in the bowl. It’s important to sift rather than sprinkle to avoid lumps. (Go ahead, ask me how I know.) Remember, you’re using baking powder in the recipe, so you should use Dutch-process cocoa. Powder and process both begin with a “P”, that’s how I remember.


Blend in the cocoa until the batter is smooth and lump-free. This batter is just a tiny bit thicker than the vanilla batter, but still on the thinner side. You’ll see why this is important soon.


Place about 3 tablespoons of the vanilla batter into the center of your parchment-lined pan. The thin batter will begin to spread out. This is just what you’re looking for.


Next, pour about 3 tablespoons of the chocolate batter in the center of the vanilla batter, like a bulls-eye.


Continue to add 3 tablespoons of batter to the center of the last batter circle, alternating vanilla and chocolate batters.


When both batters are finished you’ll have a pan full of lovely rings. It doesn’t look much like zebra stripes yet but just wait, the magic is coming.


Bake the cake for 35-45 minutes, or until the vanilla stripes are golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 to 8 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Peel off the parchment circle.

When the cake is completely cool, ice as desired (this cake is great plain, too) and prepare for  “The Big Reveal” as my fellow blogger Susan says.


How COOL is that!?! As the batter bakes it rises up in the rings and when those rings are sliced vertically, you get ZEBRA stripes!

I like to serve the cake already sliced, like a herd of zebra on the savannah. Susan likes to cut the first piece in front of the guests for the full ohhh and ahhh effect. The choice is yours.


Add some of our whimsical jungle animal sugar decos, grab your pith helmet and your wild cake adventure begins.  Extra points for anyone who lets out a Tarzan yell before digging in!

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Zebra Cake.

Many thanks to the great bloggers and bakers online who inspire us. Zebra cakes have galloped over the Internet in the last few years, causing quite the stir (pun intended). Be sure to check out http://www.azcookbook.com/zebra-cake/. This may just be where it all started~

MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...


  1. Chavi

    That looks so cool! I’ve also seen this technique used with cheesecake. Looking forward to trying it.
    I’ve seen swirled cheesecakes, but never striped. Thanks for sharing that, I’ll have to look into it.
    ~ MaryJane

  2. Sonia

    I’m gonna to try this v v soon. Maybe tomorrow! This cake looks very delicious with zebra design and cream frosting. Those animal sugar decos are super cute! 🙂
    I love all kinds of sugar decos but the jungle animals are just so funny and whimsical! ~ MaryJane

  3. Beth @ 990 Square

    Could you do this technique with two different colors of batter (tinted with food coloring) instead of chocolate? I’m seeing pink and purple little girls birthday cakes. Would you need to add anything to one of the colors?
    I bet you could use gel coloring on a plain batter to make any colors you choose. The ‘net has many recipes for rainbow cakes, which work in the same way for colored layers. Let us know if you give it a try. ~ MaryJane

  4. Wei-Wei

    By the way, could you “cover it up” with a top layer of brown batter for an even more “wow” effect? (It’d look plain on the outside, but cut it open and…?)
    I think if you tried to pour a plain batter over the top, it would just sink in to the striped batter and bake altogether, no more stripes. You could ice it in deep chocolate icing, or bake a plain chocolate round, split it and layer chocolate cake and icing around the zebra section. Let us know how it goes if you give it a try. ~ MaryJane

  5. Pam

    Oh this looks so fun! I wonder if this will work with cupcakes..
    I’m sure cupcakes would work just fine, but keep in mind you’d have to fill each one individually. A labor of love, but definitely fun to try. ~ MaryJane

  6. Kristen

    I am going to have to try this. I can just see my kids’ eyes getting big as I slice into it. What fun!! Would it work with three colors? A red, white and blue version would be really cool for the 4th of July.
    I’m sure you can color the batter with gel food coloring to your taste and imagination. Don’t forget to think about the colors blending where they meet too. ~ MaryJane

  7. elizasmom

    So cool! My daughter is obsessed with zebras and her birthday is coming up next week. I guess I know what I’ll be making…
    What a great surprise that would be for her. I’m sure she’ll love it! ~ MaryJane

  8. Lori @ Michigan Momma

    Yup, I’m definitely trying this out TODAY ~ my kiddos are gonna *love* it!

    Do you have a recipe for the frosting you used in the final picture?? Thanks~
    Recipe for the icing I used would be to open one package of King Arthur Buttercream Icing mix and follow directions, but you could certainly use our Fluffy White Buttercream recipe for great results. ~ MaryJane

  9. mary

    Looks like fun!! Can I use buttermilk for all or part of the milk in the recipe?
    Thank you for another “got to bake this right now” recipe.
    Here’s some great info from our baker’s files on using buttermilk in recipes for the regular milk.

    Besides adding an extra ‘tang’ to baked goods, substituting buttermilk for sweet milk has some ‘rules’ to keep in mind.

    If you are thinking about substituting buttermilk for regular milk in a recipe or a prepared mix, proceed carefully, because the extra acid in the buttermilk will throw off the chemistry of the baking soda or baking powder. For each cup of buttermilk you add to a recipe that you are converting, you need to reduce the baking powder and add in baking soda. If the recipe uses enough baking powder, reduce it by 2 teaspoons and add in 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda for each cup of buttermilk. If the recipe uses less than 2 tsp baking powder, then reduce it by 1 teaspoon and add in 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda for each cup of buttermilk.

    Hope this helps! ~ MaryJane

  10. Suzanne B.

    maybe you could do it in Red, White & Blue, in honor of Memorial Day. Remembering our Fallen Heroes and all….I think that’s what *I* am gonna do….

    I love you guys’ cakes….
    What a great thought Suzanne. Keep in mind you might see a bit of purple too where the red and blue meet, but that just adds to the uniqueness of the cake. ~ MaryJane

  11. Nadia

    Zebra Cupcakes??? Wonder if that would work…
    I’m sure Zebra cupcakes would work but you would need to pour each one individually, so it would be a bit time consuming. Bravo to you if you do give it a go! ~ MaryJane

  12. Elizabeth Stevens

    This is so great I can’t believe it! I’m impressed. Can’t wait to make it for the grandkids! Thanks so much, as always!
    Have a fun time. I’m sure they will think you are the greatest Grammy EVER! ~ MaryJane

  13. Jan

    This is way too cool! How do you think it would work in a 9×13?

    I think that would work fine. The baking time will be a bit longer. Frank @ KAF.

  14. Debnev

    @Suzanne B., For your red, white and blue cake, I suspect it would work better if you put a white layer between each color. Red, white, blue, white, red, white, blue, white. That way the red and blue should stay true. Theoretically, anyway. Sounds like a great cake for Memorial Day, or the 4th. I hope it works. : )

  15. MrsM

    What a cool looking cake! I’ve seen this with cheesecake too, but never tried it. Perhaps for the red/white/blue, you could alternate white/red/white/blue so the red and blue turning purple would not be an issue?

    Blue is a very difficult color to maintain. A yellow batter will “green” it off. A white batter will quickly pale it down. Give it a try and let us know how it works. Frank @ KAF.

  16. SoupAddict Karen

    I love this, MaryJane – you are too cool for school! I’ve got lots of cake events this summer, and am always under the gun to produce something fun and unique each time. Cake #1 – solved!
    Shucks, Karen that’s sweet. I’m sure anyone who gets one of your cakes would be thrilled, and now you can be just that much more groovy! We wild women have to stick together to rule the world in our own little ways.
    p.s. Had a great tomato basil cream soup from our cafe for lunch. Yum! ~ MaryJane

  17. señorita

    I love the fact that folks are thinking about cake at the crack of dawn!!!!!!! I am taking cake decorating classes and have been looking for something basic, but at the same time different. This is it! Thanks so much! By the way, for red, white and blue – to keep the red and blue from blending, put a layer of plain vanilla batter in between them – red, white, blue, white, etc. That might work.

  18. Elizabeth

    I am sooo going to play with different color/flavor combos with this! I have 4 boys who love to bake, this looks great and oh so easy!!
    Thank you for the recipe and to Suzanne for pointing me this way :>))

  19. cindy leigh

    what will happen if your cocoa is not dutch processed? Natural cocoa is more acidic. But I think the small amount wouldn’t be a problem with the baking powder that the recipe calls for. Mary@ KAF

  20. Janis

    Too cool! You guys are just loaded with good ideas! We have a raspberry cake recipe that we really like. I will try using raspberry gelatin instead of cocoa. Pink and white stripes!

  21. Anne

    If I wanted the red,white and blue cake, would it make sense to layer it white/red/white/blue/white/red/white/blue, instead of red/white/blue/red/white/blue?

    Does that make sense to you all, or just to me?

    I understand. The best answer is “Maybe”. This is going to be an experiment. It might take several tries to perfect the look. Frank @ KAF.

  22. FRAN S

    Too true! Good thing I left out the photos though. 😉 ~ MaryJane

  23. Ann

    Reading the blog and then the recipe the baking times do not match, the blog says 25-35 minutes and the recipe says 40-45 minutes, which time is correct. This will be a great cake to make and the red, white, and blue is a fantastic idea. Thanks.

    Thanks Ann for noticing the error. The correct baking time is 35-45 minutes. I’ve fixed both the recipe and the blog. Can I blame it on the Benadryl? 😉 ~ MaryJane

  24. Mary E

    Since this only makes one layer, would you need to double it to make a 9 by 13 version? I think you could get by by making 1 1/2 times, but doubling is easier math -wise. You would have some batter left for cupcakes. Mary@ KAF

    I’d double it to make it in a 9″ x 13″, so long as your 9″ x 13″ is 2″ deep. PJH

  25. Mary E.

    On the red, white and blue, why not do red and white stripes like the flag and do just the center in blue, making sure that the last stripe is white.
    Great thinking! It takes a village to make a striped cake, eh? ~ MaryJane

  26. Sindy

    I have done this with cheesecake and everyone was amazed; including me. You don’t see it until you cut into it which makes it even more impressive.

  27. Dee Dee W

    Do you think it would be too much if I made it a two-layer cake? (Doubling the recipe, of course.) My boss loves chocolate anything and I always make him a chocolate cake of some kind for his birthday. I would love to make one of these zebra cakes for him but I would need for it to be a two-layer cake to have enough for everyone at the office. I think it would be cute as a two layer cake. Give it a try. Mary@ KAF

    Or, double the recipe and make a 13 x 9 x 2. I think you’ll get a stronger zebra effect with the 13 x9.
    ~ MaryJane

  28. fer

    Now all I need is for one of the grandkids to want a jungle-themed birthday party! This is just too cool…
    Why wait? Send out an e-vite and have a jungle party to kick off summer! ~ MaryJane

  29. Sue E. Conrad

    Looks absolutely “mahvelous”! Yes, I have had the issues mentioned when making marble cake (too much swirling leading to not enough marbling). This zebra cake takes the cake, though. One question – why the change from the old tried-and-true KitchenAid mixer to a Viking???

    Sue, the test kitchen is split right down the middle – half of us use KitchenAids, half use Vikings. Each to his own! 🙂 PJH

  30. Becky in Greensboro

    My daughters did this over the weekend with rainbow colors and impressed their friends. They made color piles in three sections of a 9×13 pan. Thicker batter makes wider stripes. They used gel-base colors to keep from thinning the batter too much, which causes the colors to blend.

    Personally, I like the vanilla-chocolate idea better!
    I’ve recently seen that done with icing. Make red, blue and yellow icing and blob in randomly into a piping bag. When you pipe it out, the icing blends a bit and makes new colors. Very pretty in pastels. I’ve definitely got it on my list to try. ~ MaryJane

  31. Ellen D.

    I saw the sub for buttermilk. Would I be able to use soy or almond milk instead of regular milk? Would I need to make any additional adjustments? Thanks!
    You could use soy or almond milk without making any changes to the recipe. One of our bakers uses rice milk in many cake recipes and has success with it. ~ MaryJane

  32. Eileen

    This is a very cool technique! I like this effect so much better than traditional marbling. I am also PRO-VIKING bcuz i believe that the Viking mixer is more powerful. (& it has wheels!) I have ALL the xtra attachments & they are great!

  33. Mary D.

    Would the cake turn out properly “IF” Splenda was substituted for the full amount of sugar? Thank you. The Splenda web site suggests substituting for not more than 25% of the sugar called for in cakes. We haven’t tried it, so I don’t know. Mary@ KAF

  34. Nel

    This looks like it would be a lot easier than the checkerboard cake: zebra stripes aren’t supposed to be uniform.

    But it does raise a question/problem I’ve never resolved: is there a recipe out there for a checkerboard cake that would actually taste good and be moist and tender? The recipe that I got with the box (more than 20 years ago?) makes a dense, somewhat dry and unappealing cake. When I’ve tried recipes that have a thinner batter and make a lighter, more moist cake, I didn’t get neat squares – more like a checkerboard cake that Salvador Dali would paint, if you can follow that.

    I think I tried your vanilla/chocolate layer cake recipe (from this blog) because I knew it would taste good, but if I remember rightly, the batter was too thin and things ran together when I took the concentric circle form our of the batter. Tasted great, but instead of ‘wow’ the reaction was more, ‘Um… what were you trying to do with the black and white thing here?’

    As a lover of black and white, have you ever found the perfect recipe for checkerboard cake – something moist and delicious but at the same time stiff enough (I guess) to give the neat squares? It’s one of my baking ‘grails.’
    I have to confess I’ve never made a checkerboard cake, I’ve never had the right pan set. This batter is pretty thin, so it wouldn’t hold up well when you take out the rings. BUT, you might want to try our Golden Vanilla cake, and add a bit of the cake enhancer, I think that may work well. ~MaryJane

  35. kevin

    Could a pancake portioning cup be used to simplify things?
    Ohhh, I bet that would work well. You would need one for each color of batter, or just one would help speed things up. I thought about a turkey baster, but never did try it. ~ MaryJane

  36. Vermontmary

    This does indeed look “mahvelous”! I wonder if it would work as a tube cake, or even in a bundt pan. Would I double the recipe? You would need to double the recipe for a bundt cake. I don’t know if you would get the zebra effect in a Bundt. Give it a try and let us know. Mary@ KAF

  37. Debbie H.

    As I was looking for the jungle animal sugar decos, I came across the “jungle” cupcake liners. Could you use this same technique for cupcakes? I’m wondering if you would run out of room for the stripes before you had enough batter in the cupcake liner (if you know what I mean!). What do you think?
    Word on the street, or at least in the bakers pod is that cupcakes would probably be more trouble than it’s worth. It would involve a lot spooning small amounts of batter into each cup, and you wouldn’t get as many stripes. BUT, if you have the patience, do give it a try. ~ MaryJane

  38. Judith Carr

    I am also a zebra-fanatic and the cake is aethetically wow! But what does it taste like? Chocolate? Vanilla? Both? If it tastes like an Oreo, I am going to make ten of them!
    Hi Judith,
    I wouldn’t say it tastes like Oreo, more like a milk-y, mild chocolate flavor with vanilla tones. Quite good and light. ~ MaryJane

  39. sher

    would like to try this with all butter or 1/2 butter and oil…is there any reason to not try this change? thanks in advance.
    I’d try the 1/2 & 1/2 version first. The batter needs to stay on the thin side in order to flow properly.
    Let us know here how it goes. ~ MaryJane

  40. Hollie

    Hi there,
    Was going to make a very girly, fru fru, pink, sassy bday cake for a client on saturday and they wanted 4 layers with white and chocolate. I was thinking of doing this instead (they are flexible and would love it). Do you think it would be good with espresso filling?
    Great idea. It would be excellent with an espresso filling and I’m sure they will be impressed. Have fun!
    ~ MaryJane

  41. Tara Clark

    For those wanting to do a Memorial Day cake maybe try doing just red and white stripes and then frost blue and use some cute star candies on the sides; that is what I would try to avoid color blending issues.

  42. Becky

    This was too intriguing. I’ve got it in the oven right now and can’t wait to see my own zebra cake! So much for my resolve to cut down on sweets!
    Time to phone your BFF’s and have an impromptu jungle party. They’ll help eat cake and keep you on track. ~ MaryJane

  43. wink

    The process looks like something even I can follow. My son has a b-day at the end of this month and he loves animals so I will do this. Thanks so much, Dave.

  44. Linda

    For the Memorial Day version, you could just do a red and white stripe and then frost it in blue with little star decorations. Then you wouldn’t have to figure out how to maintain the difficult blue batter. This is a wonderful cake, thank you for the idea.
    Everyone has such great ideas, thanks for sharing! ~ MaryJane

  45. LaJuana


    I saw the zebra cheesecake a few days ago on the above site. She refers to the recipe as a Japanese cheesecake…like yours, it looks intriguing and I’ve got to try one…or three…soon!

    Thanks for all of the details and the extra bit about the buttermilk…I do love using buttermilk and never knew the science required to make changes. You all are tops at KA!
    I think a striped cheesecake is definitely on my Honey-do list. ~ MaryJane

  46. Kate G.

    Solution to the red/ white/ blue….why not red/white repeated, topped with blue icing and white piped on stars (or star sprinkles)? Great technique, however, to add to one’s rep.!

  47. Deb K

    A couple of folks commented about a red/white/blue striped cake, which might result in too much color-bleed, so here’s another thought: how about a red & white striped cake with blue icing and white nonpareils (or white chocolate chips) sprinkled over the icing?

  48. Emilie

    I just took this out of the oven and it is SO cool! I couldn’t wait to slice it and sure enough, it looks just like your picture. And it was a cinch to make. We’re going to try it naked at first, but will probably frost it next time. Do you guys have a preference as far as icing type/flavor?

    I like vanilla or chocolate for the icing, but it would also go well with mocha. ~ MaryJane

  49. Jay

    Looks great! I like the way the stripes are so close to each other, I don’t usually get my colored batters to turn out so neat and tidy.

    To everyone thats wondering about using different colours, just google “how to make a rainbow cake” or look for rainbow cakes on google images. You’ll find quite a few photo’s & how to’s.

  50. Ann Lewandowski

    This idea is so cute along with all the other posts that have been added. I must try this also. I would love to move to Conn. and work for your company. I love the stimulation of all your imaginations. It gets me so excited. It must be fun to work with a team like yours. Keep the ideas coming. We surely appreciate it. Ann

  51. Mary

    That is absolutely gorgeous, and I’ll have to make it soon. Can’t do it right now, as I’m getting ready for my daughter Annie’s birthday, and this year she wants either a strawberry cake or yellow cake with strawberry frosting. I came looking here this evening for ideas as I’m drawing a blank. What is really giving me a hard time is the frosting, I’m thinking either a buttercream or a cooked frosting, and finding a way to flavor the frosting with strawberry puree. I’m not looking for a bright pink color, but just light pink with real strawberry flavor. I’ve tried this in the past, and it always came out too thin. She had a wonderful real strawberry cake 3 or so years ago, and has been clamoring for one for her birthday for so long, I’d really like to deliver the goods this time around. Any one have a tried and true recipe for me, please?
    HI Mary,
    I hope someone does have a recipe for you that’s more specific than this, but I’ve had success with a basic buttercream using shortening, butter (50/50 each) confectioners’ sugar and strawberry puree in place of any liquid. I didn’t measure I was just goofin’ around, but it was delicious. Hope it helps a bit. ~ MaryJane

  52. Katy

    Like everyone else, I was excited by the ‘fun-ness’ of this recipe. We have just finished eating our cake. The stripes worked perfectly & it looks excellent. Somehow I got long, horizontal air pockets though. Usually air pockets are vertical, so I don’t know what happened. Another time, I might use a whisk to mix the cake, rather than get out the stand mixer. That would decrease the mixing, & lessen the chance of air. I iced it with chocolate frosting. The effect was great. Not the greatest flavour cake, but sure a good presentation. Good texture.
    I can’t believe that 45 people posted comments here, before me – without actually trying to bake the cake!!!

  53. Elaine

    MaryJane you have done it again!! This is the next project in the queue to “take down” the sister-in-law baker!!! What would I ever do without you?
    Rock on girlfriend! Went to Yama on Sat. night, oh so delish! Hope you are coming up soon for another night out. Shan is in Michigan at World Finals right now, wish the team luck!
    P.S. 19 chickens, 3 dogs, and a kitten on the way. Let the fur and feathers fly! Come visit soon. XOXO ~ MaryJane

  54. Leslie Limon

    I LOVE it! I love all things animal-print and this cake is just too darn cute! Can’t wait to make it! 🙂
    Hi Lemon Leslie! Have a great time with the cake. 8) ~ MaryJane

  55. Anitra

    Don’t mean to be dense here, but…
    1. Exactly HOW would you do a 9 x 13 cake with this method? Would it be retangular “rings” instead of circles?
    2. If you make a 2-layer, would you have to worry about lining them up at all? Thanks.
    Hi Anitra,
    You’d still pour the batter the same way, but it would eventually “straighten” out when it hit the edges of the pan. You’d still get the stripes effect.
    For the 2 layers, every piece you slice is a bit different in pattern, so each layer would be unique and you’d never be able to line them up. Just put a good thick layer of icing in the center of the cake and let each layer speak for itself. Hope this helps. ~ MaryJane

  56. Lexi

    Man, if I hadn’t JUST taken a pound cake out of the oven, I would TOTALLY make this right now!

    I should have checked my email this morning…
    There’s always tomorrow, ♪♪♫♫♫♪♪ for dreams to come true ♪♪♫♫♫♪♪. ~ MaryJane

  57. Cecelia

    Wow! I love your writing style on this blog, and can’t wait to check my mail everyday to see if there is something from King Arthur.

    Just one question. Is there some type of measuring spoon that you use to measure out the 3 tbsp. of batter, or do you meticulously spoon it out with a tablespoon? (Or use a scant 1/4 cup?)
    Great question! For the yellow cake batter, I poured from a plastic measuring cup so I wasn’t super meticulous about measuring, and for the chocolate I used a scant 1/4 cup dry measure. Both methods worked just fine. The 3 tablespoons is more of a guide about how much batter to use. Once you measure it a few times, you can eyeball it the rest of the time. Don’t make yourself crazy over it though, it will still stripe up just fine. ~ MaryJane

  58. Min

    Anyone want to hazard a guess as to why the two batters separated – chocolate on the bottom, vanilla on the top? Looks lovely but not quite what I wanted.
    It sounds as though your chocolate batter was much thicker than than ours. The pattern relies on a thinner batter to work. Molly @ KAF

  59. mary g

    Made this cake yesterday & the stripes were perfect! But the cake was not as tender or flavorful as I expected. I think I may have underbaked it a bit……. I’ll definitely try again, however is it possible to adjust other vanilla cake recipes to work for this cake?
    Thank you for your help.
    You could experiment as long as the batter is thin. It needs to be thin to make the zebra pattern. Molly @ KAF

  60. Maria S.

    I made this today and it came out perfectly. For the person who asked abt what measuring spoon to use: I used 2 ice-cream scoops–one for the vanilla and one for chocolate. Will definitely make this again as my kids loved it!

  61. Maria S.

    I made this cake today and it turned out really well. I would definitely make this again as the kids loved it.
    I used 2 icecream scoopers to measure out the batter and it worked great!

  62. Erin in PA

    Just pulled this out of the oven for a co-worker’s birthday treat tomorrow. Going to ice it with a cooked vanilla frosting – it should be a hit! Thanks for the inspiration!
    Have fun, I’m sure they will think you are baking goddess! ~ MaryJane

  63. KimberlyD

    I like the look of this cake. I should of read my email before I made my dad his birthday cake, pineapple upside down cake. I can see this be my next cake when I need to make something to bring to potluck dinner at my church. I agree with Kate G on the red, white, blue cake, for our flag don’t have blue stripes, so blue icing with white stars I think would look more like our flag, just my two cents on this. LOL! Which also sounds like something I will make also. Also an idea if you do a cheesecake do red white cheese cake strips and serve with blueberries. I love to make cheesecakes, they are always a hit when I bring them.

  64. Jade

    Can butter be used instead of vegetable oil in the zebra cake?
    You could try substituting melted butter for the oil, but getting the zebra pattern relies on the batter being thin. Molly @ KAF

  65. Eleanor Gruenebaum

    I made it last night and frosted it this morning. When I made it I had a lot more “white” left over and ran out of the chocolate so the center of the cake was missing the zebra pattern. I see that in the future I’ll have to use more white than brown but the recipe seems to convey an equal amount of each. Still, the pattern came out fine and it was a real conversation piece. I missed the flavor of butter in the cake. Because there was so much oil used, I found the cake part was actually rather tasteless. Is there a way to make the cake recipe with butter? Ellie
    You could try substituting melted butter for the oil, but getting the zebra pattern relies on the batter being thin. Molly @ KAF

  66. Janice

    Made this cake this afternoon. Made me smile when I cut the first piece. What a FUN cake. Thanks for sharing this technique.

  67. Tracy

    I would imagine ice cream scoops would work well for measuring out each color, as long as you have 2 of them of course. 😉 Looking forward to baking this over the weekend for our memorial day picnic.
    Fantastic idea! The teaspoon sized scoops would work great for this. Thanks for sharing. ~ MaryJane

  68. Tiena

    I made this cake yesterday. It is so much fun to see the inside when you cut into the cake. I had the same problem as Eleanor, more vanilla than chocolate batter. I just scooped some vanilla into the remaining chocolate to even things out. You can’t tell in the finished cake.
    I also split my cake and put a filling in the middle, switching the top and bottom around to get a flatter surface to ice. I noticed when cutting the cake that my chocolate and vanilla stripes don’t line up now. It’s kinda neat looking.

  69. sue epstein

    I just took my cake out of the oven so I haven’t tasted it yet. It looks great. Took a couple of minutes past 45 minutes but of course each oven is slightly different. One “problem” however. I made the cake EXACTLY according to the recipe but ran out of chocolate batter. I had to take more of the white batter and add extra cocoa to it so that I didn’t end up with a white bulls-eye in the center.

    What a great idea! I’ve done cheesecake like this in the past but never thought of doing a regular cake like that.

    With regard to doing it in red, white and blue, I volunteer at a canteen for soldiers and someone brought in a vanilla cake with tinted red batter The cake tasted pretty good but no one wanted to eat it. The red color really was offputting. I think a red, white and blue cake might not look as great as everyone thinks. I’d be curious though to hear from anyone who tries it.

  70. sue epstein

    Well, the cake cooled off enough to cut it and taste it. I’m afraid it’s a big disappointment. As I said before, I made it EXACTLY according to the recipe. I did have to add a little more cocoa to some of the white batter because I ran out of the chocolate batter in spite of the fact that I measured 3 tablespoons each time.

    When I checked it after 42 minutes it wasn’t quite done so I left it in for another 3 minutes and it was done then. When I cut into it, most of the chocolate had dropped to the bottom and you could see some of the zebra striping on top. The cake is neither light nor moist, but looks a little like your pictures. In spite of using high quality Dutch process cocoa as suggested, the cake is dry, heavy and soapy tasting. What a disappointment!
    Hi Sue,
    I’m so sorry to hear you had trouble with the cake. I made it several time, both here and at home, and never had the stripes sink, or a soapy taste. Are you use the cocoa is dutched? Natural cocoa will definitely give you a soapy taste. ~ MaryJane

  71. deede

    I made this cake Tuesday night for a Wednesday event at work. I held back on the last little bit of batter and made a four-inch zebra cake for my four-year-old grandson.
    Everybody loved the design! The flavor–not so much. Kinda bland; the cream cheese icing had to carry it.
    I believe I’ll have to experiment and add more vanilla or other flavorings next time.
    I was thinking maybe Princess cake flavoring? Any ideas?
    Hi Deede,
    Yes, the cake is definitely a very milk chocolate-y mild flavor. You could certainly add the Princess flavoring to replace the vanilla or almond oil. Take the ball and run with it, baby! ~ MaryJane

  72. Annalise

    This looks absolutely fabulous! I love that KAF shares all the “easy” secrets for the rest of us. I can’t wait to try it this weekend!

  73. sue epstein

    Yes, Mary Jane, I used high quality Dutch process cocoa. I need to serve the cake tomorrow night so I think I’ll put a thick chocolate fudge frosting on it to give it some taste. Sorry!
    I’m sorry too Sue. I hope you do give it a try again sometime. ~ MaryJane

  74. Christi B

    I LOVE the look of this cake and will definitely be trying it with pink and white for fairy princess cakes. I’ll post when I do it so others can see. It reminded me of a recipe that was posted in a recent FamilyFun magazine for Rainbow cupcakes that might help inspire those looking to do cupcakes: http://bit.ly/boJz1k

  75. Margy

    What a fun cake! I’m thinking of trying it as cupcakes, but instead of using a spoon to drop the batter, I may try putting it into two pastry bags and pipe it into the cups as a type of assembly-line affair–I always fill cupcakes this way; might just be me (read: klutz! ;-D) but I get better distribution and less mess that way.

  76. Jolene

    This is too cool! I am so going to try to make this with different colors of batter for my three little cousins the next time I go visit. They are going to love it. I can’t wait. I might even have to make one before hand but just for “practice”.

  77. kim

    I made the cake this afternoon. After reading all of the comments about the taste being bland, I decided to add some butter, so I replaced half the oil with melted butter. It seemed to be thin enough until I tried to spoon it into the pan…. no spreading. I ended up with a more traditional marbled cake than a zebra cake because the batter just sat there and didn’t spread out. While it wasn’t the prettiest, it was mighty tasty and moist. (Oh, I also used 2 tsps of vanilla instead of one.)

    I was thinking of trying again and using the Fiori Di Sicilia flavoring and coloring the batter two different colors.
    Thanks Kim for sharing the results of your testing. For those seeking a stronger flavor than the original mild chocolate, try a few drops of coconut or peanut butter extra strong flavoring, or whatever suits your tastes. Be sure to let us know how the Fiori comes out Kim. ~ MaryJane

  78. MyKitchenInHalfCups

    Baked this cake yesterday with a friend on skype.
    Made it as a 6 inch, 4 inch and one in a ramekin. The best – and they were wonderful – strips were in the 6 & 4 inch; the ramekin didn’t strip very much, much like a cup cake I think. Wouldn’t do small or cup cake size again.

    This is a visually fabulous cake. Very nicely moist.
    The flavor was disappointing to me. So, I want to try the buttermilk. Also think I’ll try some spice/flavor: coffee & cinnamon or cinnamon & allspice. Perhaps adding vanilla bean: to the batter; wonder if warming/steaming the buttermilk with vanilla bean would intensify the flavor.

    Melting butter sounds good too.

    I did get some rather large holes in the cake: perhaps giving the batter several knocks after it’s separated would reduce/eliminate holes.

  79. Tina in Northern Virginia

    I am going to make this tomorrow…I have all the ingredients assembled. One question: When I start the alternating batters, do I wait for each color ring of batter to spread out before I add the next color batter or just put one on top of the other? Thanks, sounds like the whole country will see this cake appear at picnic tables…..

    Yes. Each addition will cause the previous layer to spread. Frank @ KAF.

  80. Anna M.

    I made this cake for a friend’s graduation, and am pleased as punch with how it turned out (as my Mom says, I’m so NOT a Martha Stewart). Along with the vanilla, I added a few drops of Fiori di Sicilia, which is expensive for a student’s budget but was definitely worth it. Maybe a few drops of a cinnamon or orange oil would also add a nice flavor, for the critics out there?? I think mine tastes subtly lovely, and I followed your cookie decorating tip from Easter, and pulled a toothpick inward through the top (very shallow to leave the layers intact below) so the rings looked like a flower.

    Let’s just hope my friend likes it!!

  81. cindy leigh

    I made this cake, and wow, it did not turn out well for me. I noticed while it was baking, the edges rose up first, then the center. Odd, never seen that before. I let it bake the recommended length, did the toothpick test, and cooled it. It slowly sunk down to about 1 1/2 inches high and was very dense inside. Kinda greasy texture, too.
    It made me a bit squeamish that the batter had a cup of oil and a cup of milk for only one layer (one round pan) and 2 cups of flour. i think that’s why it ended up kinda like a greasy hockey puck. I double checked all the instructions and ingredient amounts, so I know I did not make a mistake there.
    I might try the technique with a different type of batter.
    I’m so sorry to hear that the cake didn’t work out for you. I’ve made it several times and didn’t have any sinking or density issues. I’m wondering if your leavens were fresh or perhaps it was slightly underbaked? ~ MaryJane

  82. Nenegoose

    Zebras coming out of the veldt (sp.):
    I had planned to make this cake just the way it had been written up by KA, but after reading the comments, some of them somewhat negative, I decided instead to try the recipe I had printed out from a German recipe site the very same day (5/25/10). I just devoured my second piece of this cake, and could go for more, a lot more (but I’ll be virtuous and refrain). It is nice and moist without being oily, and the flavor is mild but definitely “there”, and it made a good zebra pattern. K.A. bakers, please understand, this is just a tweek of your recipe as you presented it, not a criticism, since I have not even attempted your recipe; that will be next.
    The German name for the recipe is “EIERLIKOER-MARMORKUCHEN”, but it really is a Zebra Cake.
    Here are the translated ingredients, and the method is a typical zebra cake method:
    ~ Melt 8 oz. butter (2 sticks)
    ~ Add 5 oz. (1 c.) powdered sugar and stir till creamy
    ~ Add 5 large eggs, one at a time, till fully incorporated
    ~ Add and incorporate, one item at a time
    + 1 c. eggnog (I made my own with rum; Ponche Cuba is fine also)
    + 1/2 c. milk (I used 2%)
    ~ Sift over and mix in well:
    + 7 oz. (1-1/2 c. flour)
    + 6 level T. cornstarch
    +1 t. baking powder
    Divide dough in half and to one of the 1/2s:
    ~ Add 2 T. cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s)
    ~ + 4 T. rum (I used dark Cruzan Rum) [tried to use Cruzan Vanilla Rum, but couldn’t get the bottle open].
    Now proceed as outlined in KA’s Zebra Cake.
    I used a 9-inch square cake pan, brushed only with a mixture of 2 parts canola oil : 1 part liquid lecithin (works all the time, even with intricate patterns).
    Sorry to be so wordy. This is what happens when you are touched by zeal and passion.

  83. John Watters

    Just made the Zebra cake and it is wonderful! Added 1/4 tsp of Fiori di Sicilia to both the cake and the icing (a cream cheese chocolate thin one). One technical point is to emphasize that the measure for each batter must be carefully cleaned-out when adding to the ‘rings’ so that the amounts come out evenly. I used Hershey’s dark alkali process ‘coco’ with success — it’s nice and dark. It’s great to surprise everyone when cutting it, my niece even guessed the name from its appearance.

  84. Tina in Northern Virginia

    OK, I made it this am…it’s great. A couple of things I did: I use a KA mixer, I started with the paddle but changed to the whisk since the batter is thin and the whisk worked better. I used 3 jumbos (one a double yolk) and it was fine. I used a 9″ X 2.5″ , greased springform, it was perfect and I can carry it easily. Now the kicker…I rummaged through my drawer of kitchen utensils for long unused items….a small sauce ladle is perfect for dipping the batter. I had two so there was one for each batter. Each ladle was 3 Tb capacity…no muss-no fuss. They have handles so I could work easily. This cake will not survive the night so tomorrow I will make another for the picnic. Bravo King Arthur.

  85. SMJ

    I baked this cake for a party. I doubled up the amounts on the recipe and made 2 9-inch cakes and a 6-inch (for fun) with the leftover batter. I leveled the 9 inch layers and frosted/ filled a 2-layer cake with the chocolate buttercream recipe from this website. It turned out delicious, and people loved it. The zebra stripes were lovely and it was an impressive looking cake after stacking and decorating. Thanks again KAF.

  86. Sonia

    Hello, I made this 2 days back (skipped the icing on top) and it came out so well and beautiful. My hubby and I were fascinated by zig-zag design of zebra cake. 😀 From my experience, I can say it tastes better next day. Even my friends loved it so much. Thanks heaps for wonderful recipe! 🙂

  87. Jeanne

    I just made this cake. It turned out great, and everyone loved it, but I thought it wasn’t sweet enough (didn’t ice it, but had whipped cream if anyone wanted it, which no one did). I think it would work with any recipe that’s a thin batter, and I would love it at Xmas in a red and green pattern too! Love the red, white and blue idea for the 4th!

  88. Gyongyi Gulyas

    I baked the cake. The zebra pattern looked really cool and the cake tasted good, but the center of the top really protruded and was not even. Looked like a dome. Do you have a suggestion what might have casued it?
    Cakes bake from the outside towards the center. The center will usually be higher then the outside. If you do not like this appearence you may use cake strips item 7262. Using these will help to keep your cake level. JMD @ KAF

  89. MINA

    Thank you so much for your this recipe!!

    I got a e-mail from this site n saw it, Zebra Cake.

    So, I checked and baked it today for dessert after family’s dinner timd.

    Everybody satisfied and ate all~at time!!

    Thank you again for your appreciately recipe^^

  90. Melissa

    I made this last night for family dessert. The stripes came out perfectly, I simply placed both batters in 2 cup glass measures. I poured for a three count with each color and it worked out well. I did add some extra vanilla, and a bit of Kay Star White Chocolate Extract to the chocolate batter, though I would love to try some Fiori di Sicilia or Princess Cake and Cookie flavor, when I get back to Vermont to re-stock! I added a couple of drops of orange flavoring to the icing and it was quite good! I think I’d like to try it with some of your cake enhancer next time.
    All in all, it’s a fun cake, and the kids were certainly wow-ed!

  91. Ricardo Neves Gonzalez - Petrópolis, R.J. - BRAZIL

    I´d baked this curious cake and it turns absolutely niceee!
    Now i´m baking the cake on English Cake retangular pan. It works welll!
    Nice post, as ever!!

  92. Kristin A.

    I am just now reading the comments & it seems everyone read my mind! I just pulled a red, white & blue version out of my oven. It’s cooling as I type. I’ll share pics as soon as it’s cool enough to cut into. I did red, no tint, blue, red, no tint, blue, etc. No purple issues. Can’t tell if there was any bleed. Crossing fingers it worked out!

  93. karen

    I made it! The cake recipe for the chocolate and vanilla – the cake was not a wow tasting cake but the zebra stripe came out fine.

    I made a white cake and with gel color did a red, white, and blue cake and it was the best. Will make again with different colors. The did not mix together at all.

    Thanks for sharing your tips and success with the All-American cake! Irene @ KAF

  94. Liz Krummrich

    So very disappointed. The batter was easy to make. I added 1 teaspoon of espresso powder to the chocolate to add a little flavor. The layering of the 2 batters went smoothly. I used a 4 oz oxo measuring cup for one batters and a small ice cream scoop for the other. I guess I didn’t bake it long enough but the toothpick came out clean. It was a little gooey in the center but on top of that the cake had no flavor. I love the concept so I will try to make again but will use a different batter recipe. Thanks to KA for the zebra idea

  95. Pam JWM

    We just finished eating this for my son’s 2nd birthday and it was delicious! We loved the zebra stripe effect! Instead of oil, ours had melted butter, plus a bit of extra milk added to the chocolate batter to make it as runny as the yellow. We also topped it with rolled fondant, our first time trying that method. This was my 7 year old daughter’s end-of-year homeschooling project for the unit she chose to do on cake baking and decorating, and it was a great project for her!
    Thanks for yet another awesome recipe!
    Thanks so much for sharing your melted butter results. Please tell your daughter that she earns extra points from me for trying fondant, even practiced bakers are intimidated by it!
    ~ MaryJane

  96. JJ

    A suggestion for cupcakes. How about following the recipe as is in a regular cake pan (round or rectangular). After the cake has cooled use a round biscuit cutter to cut out pieces and place in a cupcake paper and frost.

    You do lose the joy of peeling the paper away for the “reveal” but it would be a nice way to get your stripes and cupcake too.

    Great serving suggestion, thanks for sharing! ~ MaryJane

  97. Jacquelyn

    These European cakes are beautiful! I made one back the beginning of April after seeing it featured on the AZ Cookbook blog. It was really good and loved by all and didn’t make it a full 24 hours!!

  98. Kay

    I made this for a jungle-themed baby shower, and everyone loved the cake and found it very tasty … a double recipe (with a little bit taken out for a tasting cupcake) fit in my 9″ x2″h pan, but the layers got pretty scrambled because it took a long time to get up to temp in the middle. Or maybe it was because I thinned the chocolate out a little with some creme de cacao and thickened the vanilla a bit with flour to even them out– not really fair to comment with changes, I know! anywho, what I ended up with was YUMmy and very cute. Scrambed stripes or not, the zebra concept was there, and with mocha frosting and little marzipan zoo animals surrounded by fresh mint leaves, it looked the part inside & out. Thank you for another gem of a recipe!
    Awesome cake Kay, thanks for sharing your creative ideas. I Love the idea of the zoo animals. ~ MaryJane

  99. Lea Kiapos

    I made this cake in a traditional Bundt pan – as an experiment. I doubled the recipe, and substituted evaporated milk for the regular milk (had none in the house), and increased the baking time. It turned out fantastic! Tasted good, looked fabulous, and was impressive. Instead of frosting, I just generously dusted it with powdered sugar. I will definitely make it again, and when I do, I will make 1.5x instead of 2x the recipe as it rose above the rim of the pan. (I just sliced that part off so it was flat on the plate) Thanks for yet another great recipe!

  100. Jil

    I doubled the recipe for this cake to make a layer cake. It was good but the cake was very dense. Almost like a pound cake. It also took a long time to do the alternating scoops of batter for the two layers. I made it for a birthday cake and everyone loved it but I don’t think I will do it again. There are so many other good pound cake and chocolate cake recipes to make.

  101. Karen

    My daughter and I had fun making this cake! – doubled to give one to a neighbor. It was fun – a little bland but fine. A couple of days later I am noticiing how oily it is. Guess next time will use melted butter – it would give more flavor and maybe be more stable in the cake.

  102. Jinnie

    My darling Grandbabie Annabella (4 years old) made this cake today with a little help. She’s a pro in the kitchen and I love having her help. She’s been in charge of the eggs in all our recipes since she was 2! She’s learning fractions, kitchen safety and to listen closely and follow instructions. Our cake came out beautiful! Bella ‘carefully’ measured and poured the batters into the pan single handedly. We haven’t cut it yet (except for leveling the top and that was yummy)
    so we don’t know how striped it is. (What we cut was all blended chocolate.)
    I want to thank you for a nice recipe and morning activity. We look forward to trying other KA recipes.
    I can just picture the two of you working together on this! Very cute! I sense a life time of baking for Annabella thanks to you. Happy baking! Elisabeth @ KAF

  103. Sheila

    I’m a bit behind on my reading & it’s probably far too late for the mother looking for a good strawberry cake recipe, but this one is very popular in my house. As you can see from the note I’ve lightened it from the original recipe. Serves 12.

    1 pkg white cake mix (2 layer)
    1 Tbsp flour
    1 pkg strawberry gelatin powder (4 serving)
    1/4 C oil, *
    1 C water, *
    1/2 C frozen strawberries, thawed & mashed
    2 eggs, *
    3 oz butter, *
    3 3/4 C icing sugar
    1/2 C frozen strawberries, thawed & mashed

    Blend cake mix, flour, & gelatin.

    Add oil, water, and strawberries.

    Beat in each egg. Bake in G&F 9″pans @350 for 25 – 30 minutes.

    Combine icing ingredients. Spread on cooled cake.

    *Note: original recipe called for 3/4 C oil, 1/2 C water, 4 eggs, and 1/2 C butter

    Thanks for sharing, Sheila – PJH

  104. Cheffy

    I made this today, but it didn’t rise that much..
    With humid weather, baking soda and baking powder can lose their oomph more quickly. It may be time to replace them. Hope this helps. ~ MaryJane

  105. Kakugori

    Awesome cake! Even though I knew exactly how it should come together, I’m still amazed at the fantastic rings the batter made. The only problem is that now I don’t want to frost it and cover up the beautiful top of the cake.
    (I’m also thinking of other flavors…for instance, this first time I substituted carob powder for the cocoa. Next time, perhaps a Neapolitan cake with some strawberry rings?)

  106. Liz in MD

    I know this is a little late, but my husband and I have just moved and I’m a bit behind in reading the blogs.

    For all the people wanting to use butter instead of oil, what about clarified butter? If my memory serves me correctly, once you remove the solids from melted butter, what’s left remains liquid at room temp. Would that work instead of oil?
    Hi Liz,
    Clarified butter, or ghee, doesn’t remain liquid at room temperature, more of a soft solid but you could give it a try in addition to some oil. Let us know how it goes. ~ MaryJane

  107. Lisa B

    What could you do to make the stripes wider and more pronouced?
    Do fewer rings by pouring more batter each time. That may be just the trick! Elisabeth

  108. JT

    How well would this work in a bundt pan (I use the Anniversary pan from Nordic Ware). Other than doubling (or tripling) the recipe, what adjustments would I need to make to the time and temperature?

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      Yes, you can double this recipe and make in a bundt pan. Baking temp would be 350°F and baking time would be in the 50 minute range. Enjoy! ~ MJ

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