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Tuesday 23 August 2011

Baking for Beginners: Super-quick Zebra Cake

I mentioned last week that I have had an influx of inlaws at basecamp of late. Last week it was American Aunt and her gift of S'Mores.

This week it was my turn to impress. I don't think many mothers truly thinks any girl is good enough for her son. Despite being a Food Writer, I found myself short of time and more than a little nervous at the thought of the common-law-mother-in-law coming over for tea.

Luckily, my near-obsessive addiction to Stumble Upon didn't let me down. The internet is awash with recipes, videos and impressive pictures of Zebra Cakes, but I'd never made it myself.

Time to see if I had what it takes.

You'll need:
  • Two 8" expandable cake tins
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g butter (soft and lightly salted)
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • Small cup of milk
  • 1 large tablespoon of cocoa
Make it!
  • Pre-heat your oven to 190 degrees C. You can listen to a Spice Girls song whilst you do this, if you want (I won't tell).
  • Split your ingredients in half - replace one cup of the flour for one cup of cocoa for half the mix.
  • For each cake, sieve your dry ingredients together into a ceramic mixing bowl.
  • Add the softened butter and blend.
  • Lightly combine the four eggs with a little milk (about 2 or 3 tablespoons).
  • Add the wet ingredients to the mix, a little at a time, splitting equally between the two bowls.
  • Due to the pouring technique used in the recipe, add a little more milk than you usually would. You're looking for an easily pourable consistency that will spread quite quickly without being overtly runny.
  • Set yourself up with your two bowls of mix, two (buttered) baking tins and two cups.
  • For each cake you need to begin by pouring a half-cup of the plain sponge mix into the tin, allowing it to spread a little before going for the next layer.
  • Next it's the chocolate mix; pour this into the centre of the plain mix. Continue until the base is covered.
  • Tip: if your mix isn't spreading evenly across the bottom of the tin you can fill in the gaps by starting again in the areas that aren't covered (as I did - see picture).
  • Once all your mix is used up, half in each tin, turn your oven down to 150 degrees C and place in the centre (the cakes need to cook through without burning and will take a little longer than usual due to the thinner consistency of the mix)
  • Once the cakes are cooked through (this took 30 minutes for mine) then remove from the oven, get the out of their tins (carefully!) and leave to cool on a rack.
  • Once cooled, you can decorate however you want (I cheated with mine due to lack of time - I used a shop-bought vanilla butter icing - and jolly nice it was too!).
I don't know if my common-law-mother-in-law was suitable impressed; but she ate the cake and left with a smile on her face- I can't ask for much more!


  1. The picture of the mix in the bowl reminds me of the spirit of Jazz from the Mighty Boosh...

  2. I think it looks like a sad panda.

    Also, this looks AMAZE.

  3. Mmm! A slightly prettier marble cake with icing. I feel that if you wanted to go crazy, Nutella could top this off nicely.

  4. I am tempted to do it again but make the plain sponge pink ... garish but I think my kids would dig it!

  5. OK I'll admit it I'm confused. I am a complete novice when it comes to baking so am weirded out by the instruction "replace one cup of the flour with one cup of cocoa for half of the mix ". Don't get me wrong, individually I understand the words and the sentiment but there is only one large tablespoon of cocoa in the ingredients list. As you can no doubt glean, the kitchen is not my natural habitat so can I also check that an expandable cake tin is what is known as a spring form cake tin? Perhaps you should start another recipe collection for numpties.....

    1. Hi Grainne! You're quite right it is misleading - I really meant one tablespoon rather than one cup - it's not your mistake it's mine!

      Happy baking - this cake *is* easier than it looks and is really fun! If you want to make it even easier feel free to use packet mixes - one Victoria sponge, one chocolate! Easy peasy!

  6. Marvellous! Thanks very much indeed Carrie.


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