Today I’m going to demonstrate how to make Zebra Cake Layers. This is such a great effect with white and chocolate cake batter and is surprisingly simple to create!
By the way, I did not invent the zebra cake. I’m not sure who did–but if you google zebra cakes, you’ll see all kinds of recipes that point to basically the same outcome–very cool looking slices :0) –You’ll see that part in just a second.
First, let’s talk batter– You’ll most often see chocolate and white zebra cakes, but for a fun twist, you can tint your batter with coloring gels!
We went the boxed cake route and bought a box of Duncan Hines Devil’s Food Cake, and a box of Duncan Hines French Vanilla. We chose these because they don’t have pudding in the mix (like Pillsbury & Betty Crocker, which can be a little thick for this project–although I love them for anything else).
We prepared the batter for each cake mix separately and found the batter to be just right for the project. If the batter is too thick, the effect will be more difficult to achieve. If they batter is very thin, it may spread too quickly.
(*** If you would like to try this cake with a scratch recipe, you can choose your favorite white or yellow cake recipe and then divide it approx. in half– you can stir approx 3 tablespoons or so of dutch processed cocoa powder into one of your bowls of batter to create chocolate batter.
Let’s get started!
Two bowls of batter….
We started by dropping 1/4 cup of vanilla batter into the middle of our 8″ pan. It will spread a little bit. Then…
Measure out a 1/4 cup of chocolate batter and pour it in the center of your vanilla batter.
Repeat this process, continuing with 1/4 cup scoops of alternating flavors, each flavor of batter dropped into the center of the previous circle of batter. The batter is thin enough that it does not take long at all for the batter to spread out a little bit.
Continue the process until your pans are approx 2/3 full. (We had a couple of cups leftover, which we used to make extra cake layers for another time.)
Look how pretty!…
Ready for the oven!
Well…here’s where it would have been nice of me to take a picture of the baked layers. They look exactly like the above picture, only…baked. :0) —
I assembled my fat two layer cake as I always do…the bottom layer right side up, and the top layer top side down (with buttercream in between). I’m sure that the zebra effect would look pretty no matter how you stack your layers.
After crumb coating my cake with vanilla buttercream, I used a Wilton star tip 21 (one of my faves) to do a reverse shell pattern with my medium consistency buttercream. I always love a nice reverse shell border, but I now like them even better when piped vertically! You can see that I staggered mine a bit so that neighboring lines fit nicely together. Is it just me or does my cake look like it’s wearing a snuggly buttercream sweater?! :0)
Okay, back on topic again….. it’s time to cut the cake!!! (I said a little prayer after all of that piping that the zebra stripes actually would be there when we cut into the cake!) — Whew!
Hooray! It’s always nice to have a hidden surprise within the cake— if you haven’t tried this method already, write it on your cake “bucket list” –it’s fun–and looks much more complicated than it is, which I love!
*An update~ When this tutorial was first created, the sizes of standard box mixes were larger (around 18.5 oz). Now, they are 16.5 oz. We tested the zebra cake again with the new smaller size and still had great results. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope that you enjoyed the tutorial!