Zebra Cake

Recipe by MaryJane Robbins

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.

30 mins
35 to 40 mins
1 hr 10 mins
one 9" round cake
Zebra Cake


Prevent your screen from going dark as you follow along.
  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, beat the sugar and eggs until lightened, about 2 minutes. On low speed beat in the oil, milk, vanilla extract, and almond extract until 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 and espresso powder 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 to 40 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; we're partial to the frosting paired with our Vanilla Cake Pan Cake recipe.

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!