Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Zebra Bundt Cake.

Gingerdoodles, "I Want to Marry You" cookies, zebra bundt cake. All things I've baked now entirely because of their name. 

This soft, fudgy, chocolate-swirled cake is my first attempt at baking a "zebra" cake... a stunning, intricate, black and white striped pound cake with thin, zig-zagging ribbons of vanilla and chocolate. At least... it's supposed to be thinly striped, but I have no patience with when it comes to spoonfuls of cake batter. Don't be like me.

See the three thin wavy stripes of chocolate?    

Perfect zebra stripes. The rest... dense, slightly-sweet, extra-chocolatey marbled cake covered in thick chocolate ganache. Real life: things don't always turn out how you want them to, but if means marble cake slices  and baking more bundts, embrace it! 

My favorite part of this cake? Cutting into it. Those swirls! I mean, let's just rename this post How to Make Cake and Impress People. Honestly.

This cake is a little different than other bundt cakes I've made because it uses 3 cups of cake flour, making it bake up so thick, dense, and soft, with just the right amount of moist and tender crumb. We're making pound cake!

And it all begins with a floured bundt pan and vanilla cake batter... batter that looks like pancake batter and smells like birthday cake. Off to a good start.

2 cups of the vanilla batter is scooped into a second bowl and whisked together with cocoa, sugar, and water. It's like chocolate art!

And that's it. That's your chocolate layer.

Next, the stripes.

The stripes are made by alternately spooning chocolate and vanilla cake batter one over the other into the center of each. Start with a scoop of vanilla, then spoon a scoop of chocolate batter directly into the center of the vanilla. Allow each layer to spread a little on it's own and alternate back and forth. The best method I found was using two separate scoops: an ice cream scoop for the vanilla batter and a small cookie scoop for the chocolate batter (or a separate ice cream scoop for each). 

Can I break down the mistakes I made? 

The ice cream scoop creates uniform, round scoops, making the layers even. Using two scoops keeps everything separate. Trust me. See how my vanilla layers have lighter swirls of chocolate in them and the chocolate scoops have vanilla? I used one scoop... and it got real messy and real marbled real fast. 

Second, I used a spoon. The three uniform zebra stripes above were made with an ice cream scoop... the giant chocolate center was made using a spoon. With a spoon you're not getting equal amounts of cake batter and it's difficult to pour it just in the center of the previous layer.

See the difference? 

The cake is baked for 50-60 minutes, cooled, and then covered in thick chocolate, fudgy ganache. There's what dreams are made of... and then there's just ganache. I can't even deal.

Another baking tip: leave off the ganache, dust with powdered sugar or leave plain, and just like that... you're 100% getting away with eating cake for breakfast.

This bundt was so simple and easy to bake and a total showstopper, with just the right amount of not-too-sweet vanilla and chocolate stripes and every slice uniquely swirled. And I'm already ready for round 2 of perfecting my zebra striping. 

Because yes: chocolate art. It's totally a thing. 

Zebra Bundt Cake

3 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar (1/2 cup for the chocolate batter, 2 cups for the vanilla batter)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
6 tablespoons water
1 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 large eggs
1/2 cup milk

Ganache Icing
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a bundt pan with baking spray and dust with flour.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. 

In a separate medium bowl, place cocoa powder and 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and whisk in the water until smooth; set aside.

Place melted butter and the rest of the sugar (2 cups) in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium high until blended, about 1 minute. Add in vanilla and beat until combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Once all eggs are added, beat mixture until light and fluffy.

Turn mixer speed down to low and add the flour in 3 additions, alternating with the milk in two additions and mixing until just blended (flour, milk, flour, milk, flour).

Add 2 cups of the vanilla cake batter to the chocolate mixture and stir until blended.

Using an ice cream scoop, pour 2 scoops of vanilla batter into the bundt pan. Using a second scoop, pour a scoop of chocolate batter on top of the vanilla mixer. Allow to spread a little on it's own. Alternate between vanilla and chocolate layers until all batter is used.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until cake tests done in the center. Cool cake on wire rack for 15 minutes, then invert onto rack and allow to cool completely.

When cooled completely, make the glaze. Place chocolate and cream in a pan over low heat and stir until chocolate is melted. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes before pouring over the top of the cake. 

Let glaze set, about 30 minutes, then cut and serve. 

Source: Bakers Royale