Cake Decorating 101: Zebra Cake

Decorate on the inside with this zebra cake.
Decorate on the inside with this zebra cake.
Photos by Molly Dunn

You don't always have to decorate your cakes on the outside, sometimes you should decorate on the inside. If you really want your friends and family to ooh and aah over your cake, bake a cake with a spectacular decoration on the inside. Trust me, it's not as hard as it seems.

This week in the Cake Decorating 101 series, we are shifting our focus from the outside of the cake to the inside of the cake. Here's how you can make a zebra stripe cake batter. Once you slice into the cake, the beauty is revealed.

The first time I saw this cake, I didn't think it could be as easy as the instructions made it out to be, but I was wrong - it really is simple.

Use one light and one dark cake batter to create the zebra stripes.
Use one light and one dark cake batter to create the zebra stripes.

The concept of the zebra cake is to create zebra stripes by strategically pouring two cake batters, like chocolate and vanilla, or one dark and one light batter, into cake pans so that once the cakes bake, zebra stripes are created.

Either use two box mixes of chocolate and vanilla cake, or make vanilla cake batter and incorporate cocoa powder into half of it to make a chocolate batter. Either way, you will end up with one bowl of vanilla cake batter and another bowl of chocolate cake batter.

As soon as you have prepared two 9-inch round cake pans with butter, flour and parchment paper, and have preheated your oven to 350 degrees, you're ready to create your zebra stripe design.

As you pour the batters on top of each other, they begin to spread.
As you pour the batters on top of each other, they begin to spread.

I started the design with vanilla cake batter in one pan and chocolate batter in the other; you can start with whichever cake batter you want to. So, pour a quarter cup of vanilla cake batter into the center of the pan, followed by the same amount of chocolate batter into the center of the pan on top of the vanilla batter. Once you pour the chocolate batter on top of the vanilla batter, you will see that each will begin to spread, but not overlap. This is how you create the stripes.

Keep pouring the batter until the pan is filled halfway.
Keep pouring the batter until the pan is filled halfway.

Continue to alternately pour cake batters into the center of the pan until you have filled each pan about halfway. The rings in the center will be thicker than the rings on the outside.

Bake the cakes in the oven for about 30 to 35 minutes. Test with a toothpick to see if the cakes are fully cooked, then place on cooling racks for ten minutes before removing them from the pans to cool completely.

Once the cakes bake, let them cool for ten minutes on cooling racks.
Once the cakes bake, let them cool for ten minutes on cooling racks.

Shave off any parts of the cakes to make sure they are even, then spread a thin layer of any frosting (I chose to use cream cheese frosting) on one of the cakes and stack the other cake on top. Frost the rest of the cake with the remaining frosting. You can swirl the frosting with a teaspoon to make a textured design, or keep it super simple just as it is.

The design is on the inside, so you don't need to go all out on the frosting or icing on the inside.

Everyone is going to love to take a bite into this funky cake.
Everyone is going to love to take a bite into this funky cake.

As soon as you cut into the cake, you will see the beautiful zebra stripes from both of the cakes. This zebra cake is perfect for a birthday party or bridal shower. It's fun, funky and everyone will be asking you how you did it.

Check out the previous installments of the Cake Decorating 101 series:

At-Home Wedding Cake Decorating with Stencils Fondant Dogwood Flowers Covering the Cake with Fondant Fondant Designs Piping & Frosting Baking the Perfect Cake


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