Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Zebra Cake

Morgan loves Zebras. Maybe love isn't strong enough, he's obsessed. We're not entirely sure how or when it started, but it's been an ongoing thing for a long, long time now. His passion for zebras is unquenchable. He loved Madagascar because it had a zebra in it, but he loved Madagascar 2 more because it had more zebras in it. He's proud of the fact that he knows there are three breed of zebras (did you?), that he can say zebra in two "languages" (Aussie's say it with a long e..), and he's dying to own his own.
His collection of zebras grows greater every year, and each one is usually named Marty or Stripy. He's even considered changing his name to Marty, if he could, before. Not to mention the story he wrote last year about a zebra who lived in China and walked on the great wall.. Can you tell his two passions?
The point is, Morgan loves zebras. Was it a big surprise this year when he asked for a Madagascar party? Absolutely not. I envisioned myself whipping up a special zebra cake, but remembered that my old crusting butter cream frosting was loaded with sugar and was just a grump and spazz attack waiting to happen for poor Jayden and I. Which left me in quite the dilemma.

Then I stumbled upon the idea of a zebra cake. You know a cake that has stripes, and I found recipes galore, but all with sugar. So I went back to the drawing board, and I stayed there for a long, long, long time. All though I popped out long enough to attempt the cake recipe I'd found by using honey, which didn't work because honey darkens too much while cooking. Thus my yellow cake, while still edible, and very enjoyable, was too dark to properly notice the stripes. In fact it made me think of one of those Zhorses, you know a Zebra and Horse cross. Seriously folks, I'm not making this up! If it's out there and it's about a zebra I probably know it, because if I didn't read it while looking for info for the zebra freak in the house, then chances are he found it and told me about it.

As for the cake. I was disappointed, but I moved on. The cake remained in my mind as I thought about what sweeteners I could get my hands on that would make this cake work. I was pretty certain that if I could score some date sugar or maple sugar I could make it work, but I can't get them. Until recently I couldn't get Agave either, so I knew little about it.

Now that I can get it regularly, and have used it a few times it dawned on me that my baked goods were cooking up crunchy and not darkening. Which made me think of the elusive zebra cake I was determined to make. I knew it was possible, and decided to give it another go.

With the original recipe in mind I used an Agave Nectar yellow cake recipe and set to work. Oddly enough, for us, I had no almonds on hand to make Almond Meal so I opted to use Barley Flour and then for the quinoa flour I used white flour. I had quinoa in the house, but decided to just use something else vs turning it into flour.

Remembering that I needed chocolate I pulled about 1/3 of the batter out and added 2 T of cocoa to it. In the end I should have done it half and half, but apparently I wasn't thinking properly when I started. Truth be told, to make this cake perfectly you really need to double that cupcake recipe, but you don't have to.

Then I started layering it in. 3 T at a time. There's no major deal to it. Simply scoop in 3 T of yellow, then 3 T of chocolate, and on and on and on until the batter is all used up. Don't stop and wait for it to spread, don't panic if you take a bit longer then you did with the scoops previous. There's no precise anything to it. yes, it might tip a bit to one side, but it all evens out in the end. My pan is only looking half full because like I said, it really could have used a double batch, but I wanted to be sure it worked before I went to that much trouble. I also have more cocoa in the middle because when i ran out I mixd a bit of cocoa into my yellow, clearly taking a bit more then needed. Can you tell where I ran out, it's a lighter shade of chocolate then I started with!

See how stripy and zebra like it comes out? Perhaps not 100% as yellow if I had made it with sugar, but at least all four of us got to enjoy it! I think you could easily use any yellow cake recipe and use maple sugar or date sugar in it. Or, if you feel there's no need to worry about sugar use your normal recipes!

Despite it being some 2 months late, Morgan loved the cake. In fact he and Jayden devoured it, and when they discovered two pieces left yesterday they made sure to eat them up! If I made it again, I'd definitely use the almond meal for more flavor and I'd double the recipe.

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