I take a lot of shortcuts when I'm cooking but packet cake mixes are something I don't usually do. I couldn't resist this one however - it's from Duff Goldman, the man behind Charm City Cakes - as seen in the television show Ace of Cakes. I went to Charm City Cakes when I was in Baltimore a couple of years ago but I didn't get to see Duff!
On the back of his new-found fame he launched a range of products including equipment, frosting and cake mixes. I got this packet cake mix from America and finally used it a few months ago - it's pretty unique, like Duff, as you can make a zebra stripe cake.
The box came with a packet of dry mixture to which you add - if memory serves - egg and oil, though don't quote me on that. It also has a sachet of purple food colouring, which you add to HALF of the cake mixture after separating it out into two bowls. This is how to make a zebra cake whether you are using a packet mix or not.
Simply take a spoonful of your first colour and place in the very centre of a greased round cake pan. Don't spread it out. Then take a spoonful of your second colour and place it on top of the first - again don't spread it out. The weight of the second colour (in this case white) will cause the first colour (purple) to spread underneath, but the white will stay in the centre.
Repeat until you have used up all the cake mixture, alternating the colours each time and placing the spoonful directly on top and allowing the mixture to spread out by itself. I did find it hard after a while to keep my spoonfuls of mixture exactly in the centre so the concentric circles aren't so even any more!
Here's the cake ready to go in the oven. Bake according to pack instructions or following your own recipe.
It started to crack slightly in the oven, so you can see that while the outside is golden brown cake, the inside is still bright purple and white!
Unfortunately I was so excited to see the cake I took it out of the tin straight away.. and it broke into several pieces! This was the lightest, fluffiest cake I've ever had - as I said I don't usually use packet mixes - and it was almost cloud-like in texture. You can hardly pick it up even when it's cool so definitely do not try before it has fully cooled or this will happen!
I made some buttercream and added the remainder of the purple food colouring and used the buttercream to stick the broken pieces of cake together! I also spread some on the top. You can see from this slice that the zebra effect goes right through - it looks a bit strange in purple but would be great in black and white or orange stripes for a tiger.
I'm sending this to Alphabakes, the blog challenge I co-host with Ros of The More than Occasional baker, as the letter this month is Z.