Zebra Cake-Down with OPB (other people's books)

I found a cure for hoarding: move into a new apartment every few years. Better yet, move into progressively smaller apartments and don’t spend too much time planning for the move. That’s exactly what I did (two moves since 2010) and I can assure you, it is the fastest and easiest way to destroy your inner hoarder. I panic packed the last two apartments. “Panic Packing” resembles temporary hysteria mixed with large doses of caffeine and wine. I tossed/recycled/gave away 80% of my worldly possessions (junk) and poorly wrapped and boxed the remaining 20% for the movers.

So it was both refreshing and disconcerting to move into my newest apartment with only a box of clothes, all of my kitchen thingamajigs (I still hoard Bundt pans and Heath ceramics), a box of sentimental stuff, 12 boxes of cookbooks, 2 boxes of other books, and my Comeback DVD (though I must have tossed that DVD player).

Thankfully, one of the cookbooks that survived the move is a favorite: Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman. I had been eyeing Lauren’s take on the Zebra Cake for some time, but couldn’t really attack it until this weekend. I am glad I finally did. It is a perfectly sensible end of summer/Labor Day Weekend treat: it is snacky, picnic-y, and delicious. It also travels well (in my case, that means the roof top deck of my apartment) and yes, it goes down perfectly with a light red (in case you were wondering). Recipe and photos below:

For whatever reason, I own about twelve 8-inch cake pans, but zero 9-inch. I just used my 9-inch springform instead. Butter/flour/line with parchment.

I used two different sized ice cream scoops (big one for vanilla, small one for chocolate) to create the “zebra” like layering of batter in the pan.

Lauren’s recipe doesn’t include a frosting – and it doesn’t really need one – though I couldn’t help myself.

About that Zebra: Whoops, I might have been watching TV while prepping the cake, and I might have not portioned out enough of the vanilla cake batter into the cocoa powder – thereby creating a heavier chocolate batter that sank a little during the bake. Not to worry, though it is not as striped as it should be, it was absolutely delicious.

RECIPE ADAPTED from Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman


2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar (I used cane sugar and it worked just fine)
1 cup whole milk (or 2%)
4 ounces unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch cake pan, line with parchment, grease the parchment and dust the whole thing with flour. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat eggs and sugar on high speed until thick and pale, about 5 minutes. Turn mixer to low and stream in the milk, butter, canola oil, and vanilla until combined. Scrape down the bowl and add the flour mixture in three parts, beating for a few seconds in between each addition, until the flour mixture is just incorporated.

Transfer 1/3 of the batter into another medium bowl and whisk in the cocoa powder. Place 1/4 cup of the vanilla batter into the center of the pan and let is stand for a few seconds so it spreads out, then place 2 tablespoons of the chocolate batter right on top of the vanilla and wait another few seconds until it spreads. Continue alternating the vanilla and chocolate until you have used up all of the batter and it has spread to the edges of the pan.

Bake the cake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the pan for about 10-15 minutes on a cooling rack, then turn out the cake. Remove the parchment and turn the cake right side up. Cool completely.

I iced the cake with our simple Cream Cheese Frosting from Baked Explorations (the one we use for the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake).

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat 5 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter on medium speed until completely smooth, add 5 1/2 ounces of softened cream cheese, and beat until combined. Add 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar and 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Ice the cooled zebra cake with the frosting, then put the cake in the refrigerator to firm up the frosting (about 30 minutes). Serve immediately.