Zebra Chiffon Cake

This is a twist on a combo of my GF Chiffon Sponge & Chocolate Chiffon Sponge cake recipes, using a specific batter pouring method which creates zebra-like stripes in the baked cake.

This is a visually stunning alternative to simple marbling. I got the idea from Maryam Sim’s Persian flavoured cake.

Serves: Up to 16



  • 140g gluten-free flour (large Bowl 1)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (in Bowl 1)
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg or mace (in Bowl 1)
  • 110g gluten-free flour (large Bowl 2)
  • 30g cocoa powder (in Bowl 2)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom (in Bowl 2);
    or, 5-7 green cardamom pods, husked, and seeds heartily crushed
  • 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder: 1 tsp each in Bowl 1 and Bowl 2
    (only required if your GF flour is plain, not self-raising)
  • 150g caster sugar, white or golden: 75g each in Bowl 1 and Bowl 2
  • 6 large eggs, separated into 2 further bowls (they should be 62-70g each when weighed in the shell)
  • 125ml (120g if weighing) vegetable oil; plus additional to grease tin
  • 160ml (160g) tepid tap water
  • 1 tsp almond extract (in Bowl 1)
  • 2 tsp instant coffee granules dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water (in Bowl 2)
  • Icing sugar, for garnish
  • Paper doily (optional for icing sugar garnish)
  • Flaked almonds (optional for garnish)


  • A round cake tin 9-10″ / 24-26cm diameter; loose-bottomed or springform
  • Baking/parchment paper to line tin
  • Mixing bowls – 2 medium and 2 large
  • Mortar & pestle (if using cardamom pods)
  • A teacup for the coffee
  • Electric mixer (hand-held or stand)
  • Spatula or large metal spoon, for folding
  • Two ladles for pouring


  1. Preheat oven to 175 C (155 C fan-assisted). Grease your tin and line the bottom with baking paper (if using a springform tin, ensure the paper covers the join of the ring). Get 4 mixing bowls ready.
  2. In 2 large bowls, mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder (if using), spices, and sugar together with a fork in each separate bowl as per the ingredients list – you want one plain and one cocoa-flavoured mixture per bowl.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, starting at low speed and gradually increasing to high speed as the colour and texture change. ‘Soft peaks’ means that when you lift the beaters out, the peaks fall over after 1-2 seconds.
  4. In the last bowl – no need to clean the beaters from the whites – whisk the egg yolks with the oil and water until trebled in volume and fluffy; again, start at low speed and gradually increase to high speed.
  5. Add 1/2 of the yolk mixture to each bowl of dry ingredients.  Add the almond extract to Bowl 1, and the dissolved coffee to Bowl 2; fold the contents of each bowl until fully combined and smooth.
  6. Split the whites into each bowl and fold each carefully until no white lumps or streaks remain.
  7. Using a ladle (or teacup with pouring rim), pour some of the plain batter into the centre of the tin and wait a few seconds for it to spread. Then pour some of the cocoa batter into the centre of that puddle and let it spread. Continue pouring into the centre, alternating between batters, until it’s all in.
  8. Bake for 45-50 minutes, turning the tin halfway through for even baking, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool the cake in the tin on a cooling rack. (You can turn out after 20 minutes for faster cooling.)
  9. Dust the fully cooled cake with icing sugar – a paper doily is an excellent way to create a pattern with the icing sugar. Sprinkle over some flaked almonds if you like; slice, and serve.

Paper Doilies
Mine had too large a solid centre, so that was cut out and a smaller one used in the middle. After dusting with icing sugar, the outer ring lifted off perfectly. But I didn’t lift the centre doily out carefully enough, and tilted all the excess sugar off its centre onto the top of the cake. Hey-ho, I’ll be more careful next time!


4 thoughts on “Zebra Chiffon Cake

  1. I’m so glad you did this! It looks complicated but like you say, it’s quite easy, really.
    Did you use a paper doily for the icing sugar?

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