Like most TasteSpotting devotees, I sift through page after page of fabulous foody pictures and file away the favorites to make at a later date. As the dozens of new and fabulous pictures are uploaded each day, it becomes increasingly difficult to pick the best of the best to want to attempt, and I never make good on my plans to...
However, Farida's Azerbaijani Cookbook's Zebra Cake from February stuck in my head. It's so simple and yet spectacular how you can manipulate the chocolate and vanilla batters to play so well together in the pan and create a perfect pattern on par with the real thing.
Since my family and friends were visiting this weekend to go wedding dress shopping with me (and, btw, I found a FABULOUS dress!), and my dad's birthday was last week, I wanted to make a cake. However, it could not be labor intensive but still had to have some fabulousness to it. Ta-da - Zebra Cake! Something I could put together on Friday night in preparation for Saturday morning, did not need any tlc after baking, and not overly sweet.
On Friday after work my goal was to get this baby into the oven before my sister Cheryl made it to my place from the airport. Since she was already getting her luggage by the time I got home I knew I was going to have to hustle. The technique for making this cake is quite simple, and Farida has very simple step-by-step instructions. You're simply alternating between spoonfuls of the chocolate and vanilla cake batter. The batter is very runny so it just spreads perfectly with each spoonful you add.
If I'd had the perfect 3 T ladles that Farida suggests, this process would have flown by a lot faster. I, however, was usually spoons. Dripping batter everywhere (my engagement ring is still covered with it, ugh!) as I dropped in 3 spoonfulls of each per turn, I was literally racing the clock. If Cheryl had arrived 10 minutes earlier, I would have had to make her wait outside until I finished portioning out the batter. Once you start you really can stop, especially toward the end where the cake is just an endless amount of rings. I wish I had a picture of the final cake before it went into the oven, but time was tight and Steve wasn't home!
Pick a partner before you embark on this cake...one takes chocolate, the other vanilla, and you'll be done in no time! Perfect for kids too - so simple and hard to mess up.
As far as the taste...definitely good to have with coffee or tea. I would have liked it to be a little more chocolatey. I did spring for the expensive dutch-processed cocoa powder, but if I make this again I would definitely experiment with a different way to add in the chocolate. The cake is also a little bit on the dry side so I'd probably trouble shoot that as well.
Overall this was a great way to change up a run of the mill cake and I would love to play around with this again and see what other ways I could use this zebra technique! Check out Farida's blog for the recipe and instructions.