Yesterday, I finally made Farida's gorgeous Zebra Cake. I'd come across her spectacular looking cake sometime last year and had promptly bookmarked it. I remember being rather intrigued by the wonderful zebra-striped pattern of her cake and wanting to make it right away. In spite of being very eager to try it out in my kitchen immediately, I finally got around to baking it only last night. The cake turned out pretty well considering that it was my first attempt. The texture was perfect- the cake was soft, light and very moist. Taste-wise, I found it to be just alright. It was missing a little something, but I can't quite put a finger on what it was. However, it looked so pretty that I'm willing to overlook the fact that it was not flavorful enough. I'm sure that with a little tweaking, that can be rectified. In any case, this cake’s all about the looks- I'm definitely going to be making it again!
I followed Farida's recipe and instructions very carefully but ended up making a few changes (based on what I had on hand).
I had enough batter to bake 1 round 9-inch cake and 2 mini heart-shaped cakes.
1 cup sugar (I would add more the next time)
1 cup oil
1 cup milk (I only use 2 % milk so I used ¾ cup of that, and to add some richness, I also added about 3 tsp of ricotta cheese because I had a tub that was nearing its expiration date.)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda (optional)
A pinch of salt
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa (I used Hershey’s)
2 oz Hershey’s baking bar (optional)
Line a 9-inch round baking dish (I do not have a cake pan) with foil and grease it. (I also greased 2 other small heart-shaped pans that I had since I found that I had more than enough batter for just the baking dish alone.)
In a large bowl mix together the sugar and eggs till creamy and light yellow. (I use my hand mixer for this.) Add the oil, milk and vanilla extract and mix well again.
Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in another bowl and whisk together. Add to the wet ingredients, a little at a time, making sure that everything is incorporated well and the batter is lump-free.
Pour half of the batter into another bowl. Each bowl will now have roughly 2 cups of batter. To one half add the cocoa powder. (I also melted 2 ounces of chocolate and added it to the brown batter as a result of which it got a little denser/thicker than the white batter. I'd recommend adding a tsp or 2 of milk to thin it out a bit.)
Pour the vanilla and chocolate batters alternately into the center of the baking dish. I used 2 ladles (1/4 cup measurements) for doing this. (Farida has explained the process very well in her post.) Repeat until all the batter has been used up.
Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes. Check after 35 minutes or so. The surface of my cake was done before the rest of it was, so I covered the top with some foil and continued to bake it for another 10 minutes till it was all done. Cool. Slice and serve.
The cake was pretty plain and not as sweet as I'd have liked it to be. Next time, I'll definitely increase the amount of sugar (by another ¼ - ½ cup), and maybe I'll use a frosting of some kind (nutella would work well, I think) although that would cover up the lovely pattern on top of the cake. I might even try replacing the oil in the recipe with butter. I’m going to play around with the basic recipe and see what I can come up with to make this cake taste as good as it looks.