Killer Zebra Cake {Clandestine Cake Club}

This month’s Clandestine Cake Club theme was “A Novel Idea” where we could create a cake inspired by any book we wanted!

I have several novels and childhood books that I have been inspired by to create edible treats from. Two years ago I had a whole week dedicated to Harry Potter treats. I made a dessert inspired by Neil Gaiman’s An Ocean at the End of the Lane last spring. It’s something I enjoy doing!

Sunshine by Robin McKinley was where I decided to draw my inspiration from this time.

It is a book I have read more then once and have come to love. It sounds like a nice sunshine and roses book, but it's far from it! That's all I'm going to say about that! 

It was a bit of an easy one as the main character Rae aka Sunshine works in a bakery.

She creates all sorts of delicious sounding desserts like Cinnamon Buns as-big-as-your-head, Hell’s Angel’s Food, Killer Zebras, a 6 layer chocolate chip cake, Bitter Chocolate Death, Butter Bombs, Cherry Tarts, Lemon Lechery, and many more.

I've always admired Robin McKinley’s creativity when it came to naming the desserts. I also always wondered where her inspiration came from for the names? Did she have certain desserts in mind?

Originally I was going to make a Bitter Chocolate Death Cake, but someone was suppose to bring Bruce Bogtrotter’s cake from Matilda. So, I thought since there were to be two very chocolaty cakes I would make something else. I needn't have worried as they didn't show, but ah well.

I just liked the way Killer Zebra’s sounded so, I made a stripy cake and the tasty frosting makes it “killer!” Um..hum yeah. Anyway .... It was a pretty good cake, not as rich as expected, but a perfect sweetness to a soft crumb. Yum!

Killer Zebra Cake:

260g unsalted butter, room temperature
420g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
430g plain flour, sifted
1 tbsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
240ml whole milk
30g cocoa powder, sifted

Preheat oven to 180C conventional & fan assisted/gas mark 6. Prepare 2 15cm round cake tins, greased and lined.

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until completely incorporated, scrap down after each egg. Remove half of the batter and set aside.

In a bowl sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Half it. In one half sift in the cocoa powder. Set both bowls aside. Measure out the milk, set aside.
In one half of the butter mixture add a half of the half of flour (so you’re adding a quarter) mix well before adding the vanilla and half of the milk. Then add the rest of the flour (another quarter to make half) mix well. That is your vanilla batter.

In the other bowl of batter mix in half of the cocoa flour, mix well before adding the rest of the milk, make sure that is well incorporated before adding the rest of the flour and mix well, but don’t over beat.

To create the zebra stripes, spoon about 3 tbsp of the vanilla batter into the center of each prepared pans. Then add 3 tbsp of the chocolate and repeat until the batter is gone. It will spread out don’t worry! Do not level out the top! Whatever you do it will work out.

Bake for 25-45 minutes depending on your oven. I used a conventional oven and it took at least 45 minutes, but the recipe suggests a fan-assisted oven 25-30 minutes. Use the skewer test to make sure it’s completely cooked. Cool in the tins for about 10 minutes before removing them and cooling completely on a wire rack.

vanilla buttercream

100g unsalted butter, softened
300g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
75ml double cream

Beat the butter for a few minutes before adding the sugar, vanilla, and cream. Beat on low, you don’t want icing sugar everywhere! Then once it comes together beat on high for a few minutes until it’s nice and smooth!

It was a very quiet night. I don’t know if it was due to the flooding around the Reading area, but there wasn’t the best turn out. Sometimes it is nice when it’s quieter as we get to chat and get to know each other a bit better! I always really look forward to "Cake Club night as my" girls call it. They also always remind me to save them some cake!

Louise made an amazing Lemon Sherbet Cake inspired by Dumbledore from Harry Potter. Clara and Fiona brought a delicious cherry cake in ode to Enid Blyton. Clare created an orangey loaf cake, that I can’t remember for the life of me what book it was suppose to be from! It was good though! I look forward to our next meet-up!

notes: Clandestine Cake Club: fine one near you! HarryPotter Week; Forgotten Blackbery Pudding inspired by Neil Gaiman, AmericanCupcake Life has a book club that is run by reading the book and creating something inspired by the book, I partake as often as I can! Recipe was taken from Lily Vanilli’s Sweet Tooth.  


  1. I have always wanted to make a zebra cake! I really need to do it, maybe this weekend!
    ­Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

    1. I want to try this recipe with a red stripe too! So much fun!


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