This zebra cake recipe is moist, delicious, and comes together so effortlessly. It is the perfect cake for kids, but let’s be real — adults love it too!
This zebra cake recipe is perfect for a kid’s birthday party – especially if you’re are doing animal-themed decorations. Once you slice into the cake, be prepared to have your young guests gasp with excitement over the cool swirls! With a minimal ingredient list and simple prep, you’re going to love it.
What is a Zebra Cake?
A zebra cake refers to any cake that features a marbling of both white and chocolate batter. In this recipe, we up the ante finishing it with a rich layer of chocolate ganache. Below, find a rundown of the flavor, texture, and time it takes to put this cake together.
- Flavor: The flavor of this cake is a perfect blend of sour cream-infused batter, rich chocolate, and sweet cake cream.
- Texture: The texture of zebra cake is melt-in-your-mouth moist. Each forkful features smooth ganache, soaked marble cake, and fluffy cake cream.
- Time: From start to finish, this cake takes just under an hour and a half to make. For best results, you should let it set in the refrigerator overnight but this isn’t 100% necessary.
How to Make this Zebra Cake Recipe
Making this beautiful zebra cake is simpler than you think. Below, find a high-level overview of the recipe before you dive in headfirst.
- Make the Wet Batter: In a medium bowl, mix the softened butter and sugar. Next, use an electric mixer to whisk the eggs and sugar together, followed by the butter mixture. In a separate large bowl, mix the sour cream, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the sour cream mixture into the egg and butter mixture.
- Add the Dry Ingredients: Working slowly, add the flour into the batter. Split the batter in half and add cacao powder to one half to create the chocolate cake batter.
- Spoon the Batter Into the Pan: Coat a 7-inch cake pan in cooking spray. Alternating the different batters, place two tablespoons of batter into the cake pan at a time until you run out.
- Bake the Cake: Bake the cake at 350°F for 40 minutes. Once the cake completely cools at room temperature, slice it into 2-3 equal-sized layers with a serrated knife.
- Soak the Cake: Using a squirt bottle or spoon, soak each cake layer in heavy cream.
- Make the Cake Cream: Using an electric mixer, beat the heavy cream and powdered sugar until you get stiff peaks. Spread the cream on each layer and use the remaining cream to frost the cake.
- Make the Ganache: In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil and pour it over the chocolate chips. Whisk until smooth. Follow this ganache recipe for more tips on making and using ganache.
- Decorate the Cake: After the ganache cools for a couple of minutes, frost the top and sides of the cake with it. Decorate as you wish and enjoy!
Pro Tips for the Perfect Zebra Cake
Below, find a handful of pro tips to help you make the perfect zebra cake.
- Use a 7-inch round cake pan. If you use a 9-inch pan or bigger, your batter will spread too thin and you won’t get those signature zebra stripes.
- Check the cake’s doneness with the toothpick test. Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake to check if it’s fully baked. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready.
- Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack. To ensure your cake is 100% cooled before slicing it, allow it to cool about halfway in the pan and then remove it allow it to cool the rest of the way on a wire rack.
- Only beat the heavy cream until you get stiff peaks. When making the whipped cream for the cake cream, only beat the heavy cream until you get stiff peaks. If you beat it past this point, it will turn into butter.
Making This Zebra Cake Recipe in Advance
This zebra cake is perfect for prepping ahead of time. It can be made up to 3 days in advance if you store it properly in the fridge. To prevent it from getting damaged or soaking up any smells lingering in the refrigerator, keep it stored in an airtight container. What’s better? Letting the cake set in the fridge helps it develop its flavors and makes the cake that much moister.
What ingredient makes a cake moist and fluffy?
Creaming the butter and sugar together is an essential step to making the cake moist and fluffy.
What happens if you put an extra egg in the cake mix?
Adding an extra egg to the batter will result in a denser cake.
Do you need to add sugar to the soaking cream?
You do not need to add sugar to the soaking cream. The purpose of the soaking cream is to simply moisten the cake, not sweeten it. The frosting will take care of that!
What did your cake come out with a dome-shaped top?
Your cake likely came out dome-shaped if your oven runs as a hotter temperature. If you start to notice a dome forming, turn the heat down by 10 or 15 degrees.
Can you use a different flour besides all-purpose flour for the batter?
It’s not recommended to use a different flour besides all-purpose for this recipe. All-purpose flour yields the best texture.
Other Cake Recipes to Try:
- Cake Prague – Chocolate cake with sweetened condensed milk cake cream
- Ferrero Rocher Cake Recipe – The famous chocolate hazelnut candy in cake form
- Kiev Cake (Ukrainian Classic) – Sponge cake with meringue and jam
- 5 Ingredient “Sharlotka” Apple Cake (Video) – Traditional Slavic apple cake
Zebra Sponge Cake
Soaking Zebra Cake
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Zebra Sponge Cake
- In a medium bowl, mix the softened butter with 3/4 cup of sugar.
- Using an electric mixer, whisk the eggs with 1 cup of sugar.
- Add the butter mixture into the egg mixture.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the sour cream, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the sour cream mixture into the egg and butter mixture.
- Working slowly, add the flour into the batter until well-combined. Next, split the batter in half in two separate bowls. Add cacao powder to one of the bowls to create the chocolate cake and whisk until well-combined.
- Spray a 7-inch cake pan with cooking spray. Alternating the different colors of batter, place two tablespoon of batter at a time into the cake pan until you run out. This will create the zebra stripe effect.
- Bake the cake at 350°F for 40 minutes. To check if the cake is done, stick a toothpick into the center. If it comes out clean, it's ready. Once the cake completely cools at room temperature, slice it into 2-3 equal sized layers with a serrated knife.
Soaking Zebra Cake
- Soak each cake layer with about 1/2 cup of whipping cream (use a squirt bottle if you have one).
- Using an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar together just until it reaches stiff peaks.
- Apply the cream between each layer and use the remaining cream to frost the outside of the cake.
- In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Next, pour it over the chocolate chips in a medium size bowl and stir the mixture until smooth. Give the ganache a couple of minutes to cool.
- Apply the ganache all over the top of the cake. If you wish, decorate the top with chocolate shavings, sprinkles, or whatever else you'd like. Eat immediately or let the cake set overnight in the refrigerator for best results. Enjoy!