Z required a bit of continent-hopping to find a good final dish. Since I’m slightly short on cash and time, an African safari and fresh zebra meat was out of the question. Instead, I skipped over to 18th century France and listened to Marie Antoinette: “Let them eat zebra cake!”
When I first discovered this dessert, the photos mesmerized me. Thin, vertical stripes of vanilla and chocolate squiggled their way through the slices of cake in such a delicate fashion that I thought only a professional could create. Yet here were other bloggers, deftly baking these cakes with ease, so I decided to try my hand at making my own.
Unfortunately, that hand was slightly heavy with the cocoa powder. I wanted an intense chocolate flavor, so I dumped in over twice the amount of cocoa used in other recipes. (Probably didn’t help that I followed a different vanilla cake recipe with less liquid ingredients…) All that cocoa slightly dried out the chocolate cake batter, so it refused to spread and sank densely to the bottom of the pan. Oops.
But the top still looked like the African safari I couldn’t afford, the chocolate cake contained the bittersweet flavor I desired, and the two cakes disappeared within less than two days—in a household of only four!
adapted from CL’s Classic Yellow Layer Cake
makes two 9-inch cakes
I wrote out the recipe exactly as I made it, but I’d highly suggest adding a few tablespoons of liquid (milk, water, even yogurt) to the chocolate cake batter until it reaches a similar consistency as the yellow cake batter. But the intense chocolate flavor is divine!
1 tbsp flour, divided
1⅔ c. sugar
½ c. butter, softened
1 tbsp vanilla
2¼ c. flour
2¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1¼ c. fat-free milk
5 tbsp cocoa powder
- Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spray the bottoms of two 9-inch cake pans with cooking spray, line with wax paper, and lightly spray again. Dust the pans with ½ tbsp of flour each and set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add in vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Alternately add the flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour.
- Pour half of the cake batter into a clean bowl, and mix in the cocoa powder. (Here’s where I highly advise adding more liquids! See note at the beginning of recipe.)
- Add one heaping tablespoon of vanilla batter to the center of each cake pan. Add one heaping tablespoon of chocolate batter in the center of the vanilla. Continue the process, alternating between the two, until all of the cake batter is used up. Don’t wait for the cake batter to spread. It’s okay if the “center” begins to spread toward the edge of the pan; just keep spooning the batter into the center of the previous dollop of cake batter.
- Bake cakes at 350° for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto wire cooling racks and allow to cool completely.