Sending very happy birthday wishes with this Pastel 80s Zebra Cake! Just like the classic snack cake, this layer cake has a yellow cake, filled with homemade zebra cakes, and smothered with creamy fluffy vanilla frosting!
Aging doesn’t come easy. At least for me it hasn’t. People speak of life experience as if it flowed like a fiber rich bowel movement. Too gross for a food blog? No worries, it’s a passable description, this post is dedicated to my brother and his friend (who I’ve known forever, so he’s also my second brother)! I use the excuse of my brother for having a dirty mind, but I can’t lay any blame on him, it’s all my own doing.
Since my brother was a child of the 80s and early 90s, I needed to make a cake that reflected the style. For this 80s Zebra Cake, I looked towards the interior décor as inspiration. Those sponge painted walls and profuse use of peach pinks, mauves, creamy purples, and teals. I thought the monotone of the exterior of the cake would reflect those white 80s kitchen cabinets. You know, the ones with the melamine white facings and the light oak stained handles. Those kitchen cabinets that are the first things to be renovated. Creepy as it is, the 80s is now “vintage.” Strange, I know.
I went with the theme of a zebra cake, because they were the desired snack food of our childhood. Never obtained, these zebra cakes were eyed at the grocery store.
This cake is one giant Zebra Cake. An egg yolk enriched cake is everything you want in a cake texture: tender, moist, and teaming with fragrant vanilla. The frosting is fluffy and creamy without being overly sweet. You can either go the extreme route and make your own zebra cakes (totally worth it) and do a quick cut route and use store bought ones.
I make white chocolate shards, but you can make your own design decisions. But the cluster of shards makes for a dramatic finished product!
Though my brother seldom reads the site, this Pastel 80s Zebra Cake is my birthday wishes to him and his friend on their big 3-0 days! It’s weird, I don’t see them as 30. I see them as kids in photographs. They are still the boys, giddy for Friday nights, filled with chunky 90s game consoles and pizza. My brother would let me hang out. After several hours, he’d shoo me away by throwing a scary plastic whale in my direction. They were patience with me beyond any normal older-brother level.
30. It’s scary for me, because now I’m also old. I don’t feel like I’m adult-ing enough. Yes, adult-ing should be a verb. Adult-ing strives towards an invisible folklore-ish state of the ADULT. Adult means figured out, matured, planned, and experienced. We’ve heard that the act of being an adult exists, where is occurs, people seldom see or personally feel. It’s a fake-it-till-you-make-it sort of state, validated only by the responsibility of paying utility bills. When does that insecure child, hooked with million pouches of baggage, suddenly morph into an adult? I guess we all are pseudo-adults, whatever that is. But let’s enjoy the birthdays for what they are—a perfect excuse to have some debauchery with a hefty slice of cake.
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- For the Yellow Cake:
- 2 cups cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 8 egg yolks, room temperature
- 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- For the Vanilla Cream Frosting:
- 1 ½ cups (3 sticks, 12 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 8 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 ½ tablespoons vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- To assemble the Pastel 80s Zebra Cake:
- 4 zebra cakes, halved
- pastel white chocolate shards
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 8-inch cake pans with baking spray, set aside.
- Whisk cake flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Fit a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes, scarping the bowl and paddle as needed. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a spouted measuring cup whisk together milk and vanilla. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the dry ingredients in three batches alternately with the milk mixture in two batches, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
- Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and bake for 26 to 32 minutes, rotating halfway. A toothpick inserted should come out mostly clean with a few moist, not wet, crumbs. Do not over bake these cakes. Let cakes rest pans for 5 minutes before inverting them onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed until fluffy and pale in color, about 3 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add powdered sugar, followed by cream, vanilla, and salt. Raise speed to high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Apply frosting onto a cake board. Secure first layer, apply frosting, stick cut up zebra cake pieces onto layer. Use a pastry bag filled with frosting to fill in gaps. Top with a thin layer of frosting before applying the second cake layer. Do a crumb coat. Chill for 15 minutes. Apply a final, thicker coating. Use remaining frosting to secure white chocolate shards to cake.