Over the last few years, I have seen varieties of zebra cake being posted on the internet. I mean all kinds. If you need to laugh be amused, Google ‘photos of baked zebra cake’. All well intended, and proudly displayed for the world to see. I never considered attempting it, because if it does not turn right, not only can I not show it to anybody, but must throw it away, or worse, I have to eat it all! Don’t tell me you haven’t gone through that! Especially, you Foodie Bloggers?
Well, I went into detective mode, studying all of them, 5 years of records! Strangely, while researching, within only the past few weeks, at least 7 bloggers on WordPress alone posted zebra cake, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Bloggers, have you noticed that when we want to post something, suddenly, everyone else is on the same wave? This gave me more incentive to get to the bottom of this before the wave subsides!
As far as www in the English speaking world is concerned, the very first person to post this recipe is none other than Azerbaijani Feride of AZ Cookbook, Food From Azerbaijan and Beyond on February 15, 2008. Feride’s zebra cake was even featured in the Desserts Magazine (USA), Issue #4,
“A Journey Around the World Through Cakes: Zebra Cake – Azerbaijan“!
Not only did I find the little-known history of zebra cake, but also discovered Feride’s food blog, which is ‘a real treat’, and close to home, as my Father was a Persian-Azerbaijani, who in his youth, grew-up in what is now the country of Azerbaijan. I also found some similarities in Iranian/Persian and Azerbaijani cultures and cuisines!
This is a straight forward, easy cake to make… until it gets to the point of pouring the batter into the baking pan. One needs patience and due diligence during the batter assembly/layering process!
Important information for all baked desserts:
– Especially when baking desserts, ingredient weight is of utmost importance for success.
– I have become a firm believer in using the metric instead of American measuring system.
– When a recipe provides ingredient ‘weight’, that takes precedence over cup-measurements.
– If you do not own a kitchen scale, you are encouraged to obtain one.
– For those who do not have a kitchen scale, I have weighed the flour and sugar to give you the closest possible measurement by dry and liquid measuring cups.
– For those who do not have fluid milliliter measuring cups, I have measured the liquid to give you the closest fluid ounce measurements.
– It is also important that when flour is called for, the flour must be sifted, just before it is measured in a measuring cup.
– For more information on measuring, go to Conversions & Measurements.
Adapted from Feride’s recipe, I humbly present zebra cake with my twist & tango.
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
• 2 1/3 cups (300 gr/10.5 oz) sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1 Tbsp baking powder
• ¼ tsp salt
• 4 large eggs – at room temperature
• 1¾ cups (350 gr/12 wt oz) granulated sugar
• 1 cup (250 ml/8.5 fl oz) whole milk – at room temperature
• ½ cup (125 ml/4 fl oz) vegetable oil
• ½ cup (113 gr/4 wt oz) unsalted butter – melted and cooled
• 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
• 3½ Tbsp natural unsweetened cocoa powder (Hershey’s)
◊ Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 175°C/350°F.
◊ Slightly spray 23 cm/9” round by 4 cm/1.5” deep non-stick cake pan (or spring form pan) with non-stick spray and line with parchment paper cut to size.
◊ In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and set aside.
◊ In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, and beat (with electric beater) on high until foamy, light creamy color (2 minutes). Add oil, butter, milk, vanilla, and continue beating until well combined.
◊ Turn the beater speed to low and as it is beating, sprinkle flour mixture tablespoon at a time, and blend well. It should make about 7 liquid cups of flowing-consistency batter.
◊ To split the batter into two, pour half of the batter (about 3.5 liquid cups) into a different bowl. In the beater’s bowl (with half of the batter), add cocoa powder and beat until well dissolved/mixed.
Important to read before assembly:
◊ Place the prepared baking pan on flat surface.
◊ Place one regular tablespoon for the white and another for the dark batters.
◊ Scrape bottom of the spoon on bowl’s edge each time, to avoid dripping. Periodically, stir each batter with its own spoon for consistency.
◊ Starting with the white batter, pour 2 Tbsp (up to 3 Tbsp, no more) of each batter alternatively into exact center of baking pan. The key is not stopping and keep-on going, pouring alternatively, the same amount of batter on top of each other, only in the center. Batter will spread on its own, gradually filling the pan, with multi-rings. For the very last two pourings, only pour 1 Tbsp each (most probably the cocoa/dark batter/bull’s eye at the end).
◊ When completed, batter in the baking pan should look like a fine-lined dartboard.
◊ Note: While alternately pouring, if the bull’s eye (last dark batter poured) is shifting from the center, gently/slightly lift edge of the baking pan and adjust the bull’s eye back to the center of the baking pan and then continue the process. No other movements of the baking pan to be made.
◊ With 2 Tbsp each pouring, there will be about 14~15 rings/stripes of each color.
Batter assembly/layering process:
◊ Start with the plain/white batter, pour 2 Tbsp, aiming at the exact center of baking pan. Follow this with 2 Tbsp of cocoa batter, right over the white batter, at the exact center of the baking pan. Repeat this 13~14 more times until both batters are finished.
◊ Place baking pan in oven and bake for 50~60 minutes or until poked wooden skewer in the center comes out clean.
◊ Cool the cake in its pan. When cooled, if needed, slide plastic knife along the sides of the baking pan to loosen the cake. Invert cake onto a plate, pull off the parchment lining, and invert onto the serving platter.
~ Nuş Olsun! ~
So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?