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May 25, 2010 07:14 PM

Zebra Cake

This deceptively simple technique came in an online King Arthur Flour newsletter:
With various food coloring for vanilla batter, this could make a number of special-occasion cakes. It probably has too many layers to work for cupcakes or mini-cakes,

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  1. Oh goodie! I love interesting looking cakes!! I will definitely make this!!!

    1. Cool, and cool technique. I love this web site!

      1. I saw that yesterday, you and I get the same sort of email, I guess. Very striking looking cake with a deceptively simple techinque to make. I love the KAF website.

        1. That looks like fun. I wonder if I could use regular cocoa powder instead of dutch processed since it's only 3 tablespoons and uses baking powder anyway. Maybe it's for the color contrast? I think I'm going to try this this weekend.

          5 Replies
          1. re: chowser

            If you take a closer look at the recipe, it says to use ONLY Dutched cocoa...

            1. re: roxlet

              Dutch process must be used in recipes containing baking powder. Dutched cocoa is neutral and doesn't react with neutral baking soda, so needs to be used with baking powder. That said, here's a substitution formula from Joy of Baking:

              "Substitution for 3 tablespoons (18 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa: 3 tablespoons (18 grams) natural cocoa powder plus pinch (1/8 teaspoon) baking soda."

              "Note: Due to the differences between natural and Dutch-processed cocoa powders, do not substitute one for the other in recipes."

              Thing is, natural cocoa is lighter in color than Dutched, so you may not get as much contrast in the fine stripes.

              Read more:

              I have a hard time remembering this rule. The KAF recipe author suggested remembering the "P" for powder and processed. Let's see if I can remember that!

              Of course, KAF wants you to use their double Dutched dark cocoa blend.

              1. re: bushwickgirl

                I think it's a matter of color, too, because the 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder wouldn't be much of a contrast if you didn't use dutch processed. I don't agree w/ the P, Processed and Powder rule. I think the opposite is true that baking soda needs natural cocoa (unless the recipe calls for buttermilk or another acid) but that doesn't mean the converse is. Baking powder recipes often call for dutched but there are quite a few that use natural. Acidity won't affect the action of the baking powder, but is needed for the baking soda to work.

                "Because it is neutral and does not react with baking soda
                , it must be used in recipes calling for baking powder, unless there are other acidic ingredients in sufficient quantities used. "

                See, I think the "must be" should be changed to "can only."

                I agree w/ David Lebovitz:


                There are exceptions to each, of course. And according to Fine Cooking magazine, "You can substitute natural cocoa powder for Dutch-process in most recipes (though not vice versa). Flavor and texture can be affected, but generally only in recipes calling for 3/4 cup (75 g) or more." However when a batter-based recipe calls for natural cocoa powder, do not use Dutch-process cocoa powder.

                1. re: chowser

                  Well, we're basically in agreement abou the the batter color, but I don't have any recipes in my numerous baking books that recommend using natural cocoa powder with baking powder, without an added acid, or use Dutched process in recipes without it. Therefore the rule will stand with me. It's just easier to follow for consistent baking results. The "must be" clause is a good guideline for an novice to intermediate baker; an experienced baker will have the knowledge to modify the recipe formula, understanding that natural cocoa can be subbed for Dutched when used in a specific quantity, if necessary. If I felt that only experienced bakers were reading these posts, I would have amended my statement to read "can only."

                  The Joy of Baking substitution link I provided also has this info:

                  Substitution for 3 tablespoons (18 grams) natural cocoa: 3 tablespoons (18 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa plus 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar or 1/8 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar."

                  I have read the David Lebovitz link many times and he comments:

                  "...I always advise folks to follow what the recipe says. For sauces and ice creams, they can be swapped out. For cakes and cookies, I don't recommend it, as your results may not be the same if you make substitutions. "

                  I assume those substitutions David writes about are for larger amounts of cocoa, as stated in your Fine Cooking reference, but at what point do you recommend to a novice baker one type for another? The "P" rule is just simpler.

                  For the amount of cocoa in this recipe, I'd say use what cocoa you have on hand and not worry abut it, as you wrote, "... the 3 tablespoons of dutch processed cocoa is negligible here.' With the exception of how the cocoa will affect the batter color, I would as well.

              2. re: roxlet

                But why? It doesn't seem to need it in this case. If the recipe used baking soda, then you'd need natural cocoa as the counteracting acid. But, if the leavener is neutral (as in this case w/ baking powder), then it can use either type of cocoa. The slight acidity in the 3 tablespoons of dutch processed cocoa is negligible here.

            2. Someone should just make the cake not using Dutch processed cocoa and see if it works.