Zebra Cake with Coffee Buttercream

Happy Mother's day to all the mums out there. I have one of those mums who is IMPOSSIBLE to buy things for. She's not fond of flowers since "you can't eat them" and she's very ambivalent about what she does like to eat; she either meh about it, or it's classified as "different". This year I decided to stick with what is safe. Mum likes coffee (read loves, obsessed with, cannot live without) and she likes her marble cake. So I decided to give this zebra cake a go. 

I was a bit worried about the taste given the comments on various blogs - so I trialled a few teaspoons of the batter in a mini muffin tin first. Especially since I couldn't cut the cake to taste it once it was cooked. I use 3 out of the 12 mini muffin holes so I half filled the others with water to equalise the heat distribution. Lucky I did a taste test as the cake was a bit bland. The batter for the cake uses oil instead of butter as it needs to be runny to form the pattern. I think next time I think I will use melted butter instead to give it more flavour. From the picture above you can tell that the middle is a bit more dense than the outer layers - it's not quite as crumbly as cake either, but still good with the icing. The go to recipe I have for a marble cake also just uses cocoa powder for the chocolate portion so I think it's definitely the difference in butter which contributes to the taste difference.

On a side note I also made a card for my mum. I love this quote because it holds true. Whilst we all gathered back home for breakfast this morning, mum realising there was only 4 eggs in the fridge was all like "I don't really like eggs anyways".
If you want to print this as a card, it should be printed as 1/2 an A5 size cardboard piece of paper
For the step-by-step recipe with photos keep reading after the jump. 
What you'll need 
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (8 oz / 250 g) granulated sugar/white sugar
  • 1 cup (8 fl oz / 250 ml) milk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (8 fl oz / 250 ml) oil - I used rice bran oil, try not to use olive oil as it has a certain aftertaste that just does not mesh well with cake. I haven't tried it but I would substitute the oil with melted butter for a more aromatic taste.
  • 2 cups (10 oz / 300 g) all-purpose flour/ plain flour 
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence (original recipe calls for 1/3 teaspoon vanilla powder)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder OR 1 tsp baking soda/sodium bicarb
  • 2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
What to do
  •  In a large mixing bowl combine the eggs and sugar using a handheld mixer. 
  • Add the milk, oil/melted butter and 1 tsp of vanilla essence to the egg and sugar mixture.
  • Whisk until well blended. This is the wet mixture.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the flour and bicarb/baking powder. Add these dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Whisk to combine. Don't overbeat to prevent too many air pockets from forming. 
  • At this point grab a spoon and test the consistency of your batter. The one on the left is too runny (because I read 1 cup flour in the recipe and realised my mistake), the one on the right is the right consistency (the ribbons of batter sits on top before it sinks in again). 

  • Separate the batter into 2 equal portions. For this part I used two separate jugs so I could guesstimate the portions better. I got 550mL of batter in each jug. 
Excuse the green counter top it's Mum's kitchen - it's from the 70's but the rental has a gas oven...I didn't want to burn the cake so there are questionably coloured countertops instead
  • To one of the jugs add the cocoa powder, whisk lightly to combine. 
  • You should end up with two lots of batter like this.
  • Grab your baking tin, and grease it. If your cake tin is a bit older you may want to add a layer of greaseproof paper on the bottom to ensure it doesn't stick. 
  • Go pre-heat your oven to 180C/ 350F as this next part should give your oven enough time to heat up. 
  • Now for the fun part, where we make the zebra pattern. So I took a video thinking time was of the essence. Turns out it's not. The batter is runny enough that it spreads when layered but does not run so quickly that you have to work super human fast. 
  • So I took a video of the process. You can see the ultimate fail I was and yet the cake still had zebra stripes. 
  • I tried to pour using the jugs, but the drip factor meant more of it ended up on the counter than in the cake tin. 
  • Then as true Asians do, I grabbed an asian soup spoon which is an even tablespoon. This also dripped but much less, it was also quite a slow process with the spoon-ing.
  • I did see someone using two separate piping bags but dripping was also a problem. I think the best thing would be to use to even-ish size ladles. 
  • The original recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of each batter. 
  • In case you don't want to watch the video, the process is quite simple. 
    • Drop 3 tablespoons of the yellow batter in the centre of a circular cake tin.
    • Next drop 3 tablespoons of the chocolate batter in the centre of the tin again. That's right, ON TOP of the yellow batter. This will cause the yellow batter to spread out forming a bull's eye pattern. 
    • Keep alternating batters until you are finished.
  • Also don't put a cloth or anything underneath the tin, as it will tilt it and it cause the spread to be uneven.  The pink thing I pull out from under the tin is a cloth.
  • This is what the finished product should look like. Even with the drips and drabs it turns out quite well, it doesn't need to be perfect.
Can you see all the batter I attempted to wipe off the counter?
  • Bake for 40 minutes. Don't open the door within the first 20 minutes as the cake will collapse if you do. For the first 20 minutes it looks like your cake isn't rising much, but it will. You may need an extra few minutes for the cake to be baked all the way in the centre. 
  • Once a toothpick comes out clean after testing the cake, immediately take it out of the oven and out of the cake tin onto a wire rack to cool. 
  • Whilst the cake is in the oven go ahead and make the icing. 
Coffee Buttercream 
The hero of this cake is the coffee vanilla buttercream. 
This recipe is adapted from the Browneyed Baker Blog
What you'll need - makes enough to ice the cake with 0.5cm worth of frosting
  • 150g butter, at room temperature 
  • 1 cup icing/powdered sugar (start with one cup and keep adding to taste) 
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 2 teaspoon coffee powder
What to do 
  •  Mix the coffee powder with the vanilla essence in a small bowl, until the coffee granules dissolve. 
  • Whisk the butter and sugar with a mixer,until it is light and fluffy 
  • Add the coffee/vanilla mixture and whisk until combine. 
  • Don't forget to scrap the sides.  
Assembling the cake
  • Wait until the cake completely cools down before icing it. Otherwise the butter in the buttercream will melt all over the cake. 
And if you are not making this for a special occasion, go ahead and cut a slice to see the pretty zebra stripes. 
Happy cooking and crafting! 
And if your a mother - take a day off to relax and eat that extra piece of pie! Be selfish today. Happy Mother's Day.
mel@all.wrapped.up Web Developer

The indecisive crafter


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