How to Make the Zebra Effect on Allergy-Friendly Cake

You can use this technique from Kathy P and apply it to any safe cake recipe and make an assortment of flavors.



Vegan Zebra Cake

by Kathy Przywara

Makes an 8 or 9" cake


1 1/2  cups  flour
1  cup  sugar
1  tsp  baking soda
1/2  tsp  salt
1  cup  milk alternative
1/3  cup  oil
1  Tbsp  vinegar
1   tsp  vanilla (optional)
1 1/2 - 2  Tbsp  cocoa powder


Preheat oven to 350 °F. Prepare an 8" or 9" cake pan. I use Cake Release* and parchment, but you can also grease well and flour your pan.

Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. In a smaller bowl, combine the milk alternative, vinegar, oil, and vanilla. Pour the wet works over the dry works. Whisk gently until you have a smooth batter. Do not beat or overmix.

Pour half of the batter into another bowl - I use the bowl I had the wet works in. Add the cocoa powder to one half of the batter and mix well.

Here is where the zebra stripes get formed and technique is important. I use a #16 disher (like an ice cream scoop with a sweeper). You can use a 1/4 cup measure. When using a disher, I was able to use the same one for both batters, but I don't recommend that if using a measuring cup unless you scrape it each time. Otherwise it will just mix the batters by the end.

Starting with the white batter, put one disher of batter into the center of the prepared pan. Let the batter spread naturally, don't try to move the pan around to get it to flow. Put one disher of chocolate batter in the middle of the white batter. Again, just let it flow naturally. Don't wait a long time between each addition - just keep going with an even rhythm. Continue in this manner until all of the batter is used.


Bake at 350 °F for 25-30 min or until it tests done. All ovens are a little different, so go by doneness check and not time. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely on a rack. Transfer to serving plate.

You can frost this if you wish, but it's pretty and delicious all on it's own. 

Search for allergy-friendly cake recipes to avoid your allergens: Safe Eats recipe collection.


Kandi has used this zebra technique to make a rainbow-colored cake:

Just separate your batter and color it differently using natural food dyes, pureed fruit, or artificial food dyes.



*Cake Release Recipe by Kathy P

1  cup  shortening
1  cup  flour
3/4  cup  vegetable oil


Mix together thoroughly. I dump everything in my stand mixer and let it go for a minute or two. Store in an airtight container. Do not refrigerate.

To use for preparing a pan, apply with a paper towel or pastry brush to surface of pan. A paper towel works fine for regular pans, but a pastry brush works much better on shaped and intricate pans. Be sure to get in all of the nooks and crannies.


I have not tried this with any non-wheat flours, but it should work. Be sure to pick a flour that has a long shelf life. Do not use a flour that will go rancid easily. I wouldn't recommend brown rice flour since it is gritty.

Use any solid shortening that is safe for you.

If you have any questions, please post them on this blog or log in to our support forums and ask!


Kathy Przywara is the mother of two children with food allergies and has volunteered for Kids With Food Allergies Foundation (KFA) since we opened as a nonprofit. She is our recipe coordinator and a leader in our Food & Cooking support forums. Her recipe for Wacky Cake is KFA's most popular recipe. 



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Hi Kim,

Just be sure to read every ingredient label of every thing you use. Be aware that some ingredients in your kitchen may be contaminated if you ever double-dipped. The safest thing to do is buy all new ingredients.


If you want to make a frosting/icing for this cake, you'll need to use milk and soy free shortening or margarine. Options are Earth Balance soy-free (red packaging) or coconut oil (among a few others). You can keep it simple and just do the solid fat (safe margarine or shortening), powdered sugar and tiny bit of flavoring (vanilla).  If you want to do chocolate, look for milk-free cocoa powder.  If you want to melt down safe chocolate chips, look for Enjoy Life choco chunks or mini chocolate chips.


Here are some recipes for frosting:

How to Make Allergy-Friendly Vanilla Silk Frosting


Strawberry Butterfly Cake: Allergy and Kid Friendly...

Note that Crisco and other common shortenings are made with soy oil which may not be okay for the kiddo you are baking for.


Best of luck and let us know if you have any questions~



You can use whatever brand all purpose flour they normally use.  The vinegar is whatever works. I generally use cider vinegar. For milk alternative, I recommend SoDelicious coconut beverage. Use the unsweetened. If the friend has a milk alt they use for the kiddo, just use that.

I have been asked to make a cake for a 2 yr old who has severe dairy, egg and soy alergy, this is the first recipe I have come across, is it for defiantly free from all three? if so what flour do you use, and is the vinegar normal brown or is it white?