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Making a birthday cake that’s supposed to be the star of the party can be daunting. There’s a lot that can go wrong when baking a cake, but to be honest, boxed cake mix takes a lot of those issues off the plate. That means you can focus less on mastering the chemistry of baking, and more on making a cake that doesn’t just taste good, but looks great, too. Valerie’s Home Cooking author Valerie Bertinelli knows that the secret to making an amazing summer birthday cake is allowing yourself a few shortcuts along the way, and her strawberry lemonade zebra cake is so tasty, no one will care if it started with a boxed mix.
Bertinelli uses a very clever shortcut for making two flavors of cake batter. She splits a box of white cake mix into two bowls, then adds a few tablespoons of strawberry-flavored Jell-O to one, and lemon-flavored Jell-O to the other. Then she adds the liquid ingredients, and boom — two nearly effortless bowls of flavored cake batter ready to be swirled for her strawberry lemon zebra cake recipe.
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Then comes the fun part. Using an ice cream scoop, Bertinelli starts adding alternate scoops of batter to the center of her cake pan. As the scoops keep coming, they spread and swirl, creating a colorful cake after it’s baked. Bertinelli splits the cake batter between two pans, so she winds up with two cakes, perfect for layering. But you could also make this cake in a 9×11 pan.
Once the cake comes out of the oven, it’s ready to frost. Bertinelli decorates hers with a simple, tangy cream cheese frosting. It’s rich and creamy, and stands up to the bright flavors of the strawberry lemon zebra cake. But don’t be afraid to double down on the strawberry lemon flavor — we think adding a layer of lemon curd and strawberry jam between the two cakes would be delicious, too.
Once you master this simple zebra cake technique, don’t be afraid to experiment. You can use the batter scooping technique with two boxes of cake mix, like red velvet swirled with devil’s food, spice cake swirled with vanilla, and confetti cake swirled with strawberry. Or, you can stick to the white cake mix, but add different flavors of Jell-O, including pudding flavors. Pistachio-chocolate swirl cake, anyone? Thanks to Bertinelli, it will be easier than every to come up with creative birthday cakes for friends and family.
Before you go, check out the gallery below:
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