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How to make a zebra cake

I’m just coming off the marathon craft event that is otherwise known as The Princess Cupcake’s 4th birthday.


I made it through.

The Cupcake’s birthday fell on Easter this year, so I had to get double duty out of the cake that we took to Easter brunch with friends. While bunnies are predictable for an Easter/”Hoppy” Birthday cake, I thought I’d really surprise everyone with a zebra stripe cake inside.

I was surprised at how easy a zebra stripe cake was. It looks hard. But really, it’s not.

Shhhh. Let’s keep it our secret!

By far, the harder part was the fondant decorations that I put on the cake.


easter birthday cake

But that’s for another post entirely… this cake is easy peasy. You could make this from scratch – I didn’t because I was coming off of a week of 5 hour sleeping nights. Instead, I used these cake mixes for a two tier round zebra stripe cake.

cake mix for zebra stripe cake

 The bottom was made of two 9-inch rounds, the top was two 6-inch rounds.

Here’s step by step guide on how to make a cake with zebra stripes inside: 

Spray and flour your pans. Make your mixes as directed on the package.

I read a lot of directions on line for zebra stripe cake, and most of the successful ones tell you to use a mix without pudding and to reduce the water in it so the batter isn’t too runny.

In retrospect, I don’t think I’d do either of those. I did choose mixes without pudding and I thought the cake turned out a bit dry. I did NOT reduce the water. What I did do instead is that I let the batter sit in the bowl for about 45 minutes before I put it into the pans. I find the batter thickens a bit it when you do this, making it – in my opinion — the perfect consistency to zebra-fy. The more liquid your batter is, the closer and thinner the zebra stripes.

Once you’re ready to start to zebra your cake batter, get your pans ready and grab two 1/3 cup measuring cups. (Use smaller measuring cups for smaller zerbra cake stripes.) Dip your first measuring cup into either the chocolate or vanilla (you could use any colors – hot pink and white would be super fun) and pour a scoop into the middle of your pan.

Now take a scoop with the alternating color and pour it right in the middle of the first pile of batter. Piling it on this way makes the zebra stripes.

zebra cake
zebra cake layers in batter

For me, I found it easiest to do one scoop of vanilla cake batter in each pan, then one scoop of chocolate cake batter in each pan. Then go back to the vanilla in each pan, then the chocolate in each pan. When you’re doing this at 11 p.m. at night, it especially helps to keep the batter proportions even for each cake layer without having to think about it.

Repeat until you have used all your cake batter. Pour each layer onto the middle of the previous layer to make it zebra-ish. If you just wanted to do marbled or maybe giraffe, you could throw down blobs all throughout the pan I guess.

Bake as directed. Cool it in the pan for 10 minutes or so and turn out onto your cooling rack.

I always level the tops off before icing the cakes so that my layers don’t slide when you put frosting on them.

leveling zebra cake

What a fun surprise when you cut into your zebra stripe cake! You can find the recipe for the marshmallow fondant I used to decorate and Easter theme the zebra cake below. 


easter birthday cake

How to Make Marshmallow Fondant

Homemade marshmallow fondant is so much better than the store-bought variety. Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

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  1. Marshmallow fondant recipe | Mommy Upgrade - [...] Cover the cake completely (this was a zebra stripe cake) with a thin layer of buttercream frosting. I always…

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