Not only is this gluten free zebra cake a show-stopper, it is the best gluten free cake I have ever made! While the zebra stripes are a little extra work, it is well worth it in the end. And the frosting is the best chocolate frosting I have ever had. It’s so good that my husband has requested this cake for his birthday instead of his usual pineapple upside down cake.
Links You May Useful:
I made this cake twice and the photos below represent some of each recipe. To achieve defined/separate stripes it is best to work with a somewhat thick batter. However, when you have a thinner batter, the cake is much more tender. Check out the tender version in a the above video on its texture.
Gluten Free Zebra Cake with Chocolate Frosting
For the Cake:
- 1-3/4 cups Carla’s Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour Blend + extra for dusting pans (see above link) (235 g)
- 4 teaspoons baking powder Rumford’s
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt Real Salt
- 6 large eggs at room temperature, separated
- 1-3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 384 g
- 1-1/8 cups + 3 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons 1% fat milk divided (or nonfat + additional 1/2 tbsp. butter)
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter 3.5 ounces, melted, plus more for pans
- 3/8 cup neutral-flavored cooking oil
For the Chocolate Batter:
- 3/8 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the Frosting:
- 6 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder 41 g
- 2 teaspoons decaf instant coffee preferably dark roast – Nescafe (or 1-1/2 tsp. espresso powder* if tolerable)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1-1/4 cups 2-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature (12 ounces)
- 1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar 170 g
- 10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate melted and cooled (1-1/4 cups + tbsp. or 84 g)
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
To Make the Cake:
Measure all of your ingredients before you begin making this recipe. Be sure to divide ingredients in separate containers such as (a) 1 cup + 2 tablespoons milk with the vanilla extract for the yellow batter; (b) 3 tablespoons milk for yellow batter once divided; (c) 2 tablespoons milk for the chocolate batter; divide the yolks and whites into separate bowls. You can actually set the egg whites in your mixing bowl until they reach room temperature.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and dust with flour. Line with parchment paper; butter the top of paper. Wrap the pans in moistened cloth (such as Wilton’s Cake Belts or paper towels wrapped in foil for level cakes with tender sides that are not brown. (See the above-linked article.)
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt until combined.
In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together all 4 egg whites and granulated sugar until foamy, about 2 minutes.
Whisk in 1-1/2 cups milk, the butter, oil, only 6 egg yolks, and vanilla until smooth. Add flour mixture; whisk until smooth.
In a separate large bowl, whisk together the remaining egg yolk, 1/3 cup milk, and the cocoa powder.
Add 2-1/4 cups of vanilla batter to cocoa mixture and whisk until smooth. Whisk 2 tablespoons milk into the remaining vanilla batter. If your batter is too thick feel free to stir in a little bit of additional milk to either.
Spoon 1/4 to 1/3 cup vanilla batter into center of each prepared pan. (I like wide stripes and used 1/3 cup most of the time.) Spoon an equal amount of chocolate batter into each center, directly on top of vanilla batter. Repeat, always spooning batter into center of pan and occasionally tapping pan firmly on counter, until all batter is used (batters should appear as concentric rings). Watch the video at the above link.
Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until cakes are puffed slightly, a cake tester comes out clean, and cakes spring back when lightly touched, about 32 minutes.
Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 15 minutes.
Remove cake wrappers from pans, loosen edges of cakes from sides, and turn out onto an oiled rack to cool completely, 20 – 30 minutes.
To Make the Frosting:
In the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, set to medium speed, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Whisk together the cocoa powder, espresso powder, salt, hot water, and vanilla until smooth.
Set the bowl of cocoa powder mixture over a small saucepan if simmering water (not touching the water) and add in the chopped chocolate/chocolate chips. Stir occasionally until it completely melts; set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the saucepan; stir in the corn syrup until smooth.
Add 1/4 of this chocolate mixture at a time to the butter mixture, mixing on low speed until combined.
To Assemble and Frost the Cake:
If you did not wrap the pans in moistened cloth or paper towels and foil, trim the domed portions off of the cake tops to level, using a serrated knife.
Transfer one cake layer, top side down, to a cake plate, cake stand, or 10” round cake board. Tuck strips of parchment or waxed paper underneath the edges.
Spread about 1/4-inch layer of frosting over the top. Place the remaining cake layer on top, flattest-side up.
Optional: (If you used cake pans that are angled at the edges, refrigerate the layers for about 1 hour before trimming. There is no need to cover the cake, though you may using plastic wrap if there are strong odors in your refrigerator.) Remove the refrigerated cake and if you used cake pans that have angled sides, trim the edges of the cake so that they are straight.
Coat the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting (known as a crumb coat); refrigerate until the frosting sets, about 30 minutes.
Spread the remaining frosting evenly over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate until set.
Remove the cake from the refrigerator and remove the wax/parchment paper strips and serve.
Cover leftovers and store at room temperature if the room is no more than 70°F or in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. The cake may also be frozen and defrosted at room temperature.
*Please read the above-linked article on whether or not espresso and instant coffee are gluten-free.
**Please note that the video of the texture represents the use of only 5 egg yolks, making it lighter in its yellow color.