I’ve been wanting to make this cake for a very long time. When my mother-in-law hosted our family dinner this weekend I offered to bring a cake for dessert. I knew this cake would be exciting for the kids. My son was a little disappointed because he thought the cake was going to look like an actual zebra and even suggested that I make a giraffe cake as well. He insisted that his car be included in the photos.

Zebra Cake

(adapted from Kwanster)

This makes one 9-inch cake. Double the amounts to make a two-layer cake like I did.

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup oil (corn, vegetable or canola)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder + 3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs and sugar. Using a hand-held electric mixer or wire whisk beat until the mixture is creamy and light in color. Add milk and oil, and continue beating until well blended. In a separate bowl, combine and mix flour, vanilla and baking powder. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and beat just until the batter is smooth and the dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.  (Do not overbeat to prevent air pockets from forming in the batter.)

Divide the mixture into 2 equal portions. Keep one portion plain. Add cocoa powder and melted chocolate into another and mix well. (I mixed two full-sized portions at the same time.)


Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease the pan with oil. The most important part is assembling the cake batter in a baking pan. Scoop 3 heaped tablespoons of plain batter (you can also use a ladle that would hold 3 tablespoons) into the middle of the baking pan. Then scoop 3 tablespoons of cocoa batter and pour it in the center on top of the plain batter. Do not stop and wait until the previous batter spreads. Do not spread the batter or tilt the pan to distribute the mixture. It will spread by itself and fill the pan gradually.

Continue alternating the batters until you finish them. (Have some cupcake papers in a muffin pan if you doubled the cake batter. You’ll have extra batter after the cake pans are filled. Bake the cupcakes 12-15 minutes.)


Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes. Do not open the oven door at least the first 20 minutes or the cake will shrink and will not rise. Check to see if the cake is fully cooked by inserting a toothpick in the center of the cake. Invert the cake onto a cooking rack. Turn the cake back over and allow to cool completely before frosting.

I used a recipe from the can of Ghirardelli cocoa powder for the chocolate icing. I thought the icing went particularly well with this cake. The cake did impress the kids and my nephew asked me to make his birthday cake in October. That kid is thinking ahead.

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