I was so happy when Zebra Cake won the Cake Slice Bakers vote to be this months challenge cake. It is so called, rather obviously, due to the wavy brown and cream zebra like strips that are revealed when the cake is cut. It is a cake I have been meaning to try for years, but somehow never got round to baking, so this was the ideal opportunity.
The zebra strips are created by spooning alternating flavours of batter into the centre of the cake tin, one on top of the other in a bulls eye formation. This slowly forces the batter underneath out towards the edges and ends up creating the rippled wavy effect when baked.
I was a little nervous about this procedure as the batter seemed quite runny and I was unsure how it would bake up, particularly as I had used gluten free flour. I had visions of a gummy unbaked flat pancake. My fears were unfounded though as it baked into a fabulous cake. Light and springy with a gorgeous taste and texture.
It was also very moist, in the good way. I think this was due to the use of oil in the batter which helped keep it moist and fresh tasting even a few days after baking. My family who can normally spot a gluten free baked good a mile off, were shocked when I told them it was gluten free. They loved it. I think whisking the eggs and sugar together for a few minutes before adding the other ingredients gave the cake a better structure, meaning it was springy rather than crumby which can sometimes happen in gluten free baking.
It may sound a little plain having no additional cream or fillings, but it tasted fabulous and was wonderful to munch on in the afternoons. The zebra like wavy strips were also a real talking point. People got very excited when they were revealed after cutting a slice. It would make a really impressive party cake.
(Recipe from Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman)
240g plain flour (I used gluten free white teff flour)
1 tbsp baking powder
225g caster sugar
220ml whole milk
100g butter, melted and cooled
100ml vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cocoa powder
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 9 inch pan, line with a circle of parchment paper, grease the parchment and dust with flour. Combine the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl.
Combine the eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until thick and pale, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, stir in the milk, butter, oil and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary. Stir in the flour mixture, a quarter at a time.
Transfer a third of the batter into another bowl and whisk in the cocoa powder.
Place 3 tablespoons of the vanilla batter into the centre of the pan and let it stand for a few seconds so it spreads out slightly. Place 2 tablespoons of the chocolate batter right on top of the vanilla and wait another few seconds until it spreads. Continue alternating vanilla and chocolate until you have used up all the batter and it has spread to the edges of the pan.
Bake until the cake is set and a toothpick comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a cutting board. Peel away the parchment paper. Re-invert onto a wire rack and cool completely. Slice and serve.
Makes one 9 inch round cake