Neapolitan Zebra Bundt Cake

I know I just made a zebra cake, but I loved the design of the cake so much. And I when I saw Betty Crocker’s Neapolitan Bundt Cake I loved it and decided I needed to make it from scratch (I’m not a box cake fan-too light and airy). I used my my low-fat pound cake recipe for the base and instead of coloring the batter for a Neapolitan effect, I flavoried it. It turned out great and was a huge hit with my friends, but then again, Zebra cakes rarely disappoint since they pack such a “wow” factor.

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If you are wondering if all the flavors come through distinctly like in a sort of layered way – I will tell you, the strawberry comes through the first and is slightly stronger than the other two flavors.

That might have more to do with the flavoring behind the strawberry. There are a few consideration to keep in mind when making a making a neapolitan cake, that is unless you just make a vanilla cake and then dye the pink layer with food coloring. But if you decide you want a strawberry flavor then things start to get a little more complicated, especially if you use pureed strawberries. The strawberries add an element of density and heaviness to the batter that will make it bake slower than the vanilla portion. Then there’s the chocolate portion, you can create it with a sauce or with some cocoa powder. If you go with the sauce, it will impact the bake time to a greater degree than if you use cocoa powder. Keep in mind these things only come into play if you are trying to acheive a Neapolitan effect in one pan. These considerations go away when you bake each layer separately, but I wasn’t, I wanted a Neapolitan zebra cake not a layered Neapolitan cake.

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Keeping the density of the batter in mind, I decided I would avoid that by flavoring the strawberry portion with what most strawberry cake recipes use: Strawberry Jell-o. It worked! All the three components baked evenly- the vanilla, the chocolate flavored with natural cocoa powder, the strawberry with the strawberry gelatin.

A few notes:

  • The strawberry and vanilla layer has a tendency to blend in together, so make sure to separate the two by the chocolate. I discovered that after I cut into the cake as you can see.
  • If you don’t have cottage cheese on hand, just swap out that portion for butter.
  • Use a small ice cream scoop with a lever release handle for ease when layering the batter. I used an ice cream scoop that is about a two tablespoon capacity. (Click here for a quick visual on how to layer the batter for a zebra effect.)
  • The cake can be stored at room temperature for 1-2 days in a tightly sealed container.

Neapolitan Zebra Bundt Cake

Makes 1 10 cup bundt cake | Preparation: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Cover pan with bake spray and dust with flour. Lightly tap pan to remove any excess flour.


  • 1 ½ cups butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 8 oz. 4 percent cottage cheese, pureed
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup of Strawberry Jell-o mix
  • 1/3 cup of natural cocoa powder


  • 1/2 cups, powder sugar
  • 2 tablespoon milk


  1. Place butter in a saucepan over low heat to melt; set aside to cool. Place cottage cheese in a food processor or blender and pulse until pureed and no lumps remain; set aside.
  2. Fit stand mixer with a paddle attachment and add melted butter and sugar into stand mixer bowl. Mix on medium-low for 1 minute or until well combined. Add in pureed cottage cheese and mix on medium for about 2 minutes until well combined and light. Add in vanilla and salt and mix until well combined. While mixer is running, add eggs in one at time and mix well after each addition. Turn mixer down to low and keep mixer running while gradually adding in flour.
  3. Divide batter evenly among three bowls. In one bowl add 1/4 cup of Strawberry Jell-o and mix until combined. In a second bow add 1/3 cup of natural cocoa powder and mix until combined. Using an ice cream, drop a scoopful of vanilla batter into prepared bundt pan. Then drop a scoop of chocolate batter onto the vanilla layer. Follow that up by dropping a scoop of strawberry batter on top of chocolate layer. Continue this alternating sequence until each batter bowl is empty.
  4. Place filled bundt pan into the oven and bake at 350 degrees F or until a toothpick inserted comes out almost clean, approximately 60-70 minutes. Allow cake to cool in pan for 5 minutes. Turn out cake onto a cooling rack with topside down. Cool completely before glazing.

To make glaze:

  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine . Pour glaze on top of cooled cake.

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  1. Avatar for Naomi Robinsonmelisi @ says

    my husband would love it if i made this for him 😀 looks great thanks for the recipe!

  2. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonThisBakerGirlBlogs says

    They look GREAT! I would definitely prefer to use flavourings rather than colourings. Strawberries, vanilla and chocolate – YUM 😀

  3. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonTeresa says

    So funny! I saw the Pilsbury Neopolitan cake and immediately I too thought of your Zebra Cake. Really want to try this!

  4. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonBrian @ A Thought For Food says

    Can I just stick my fork in there? Will you judge me if I eat the whole thing?

  5. Avatar for Naomi Robinsonalyson says

    I found 1/3 of a cup cocoa too much the chocolate is too thick to mix, so I’m trying again with a little less cocoa. Flavour is fantastic though.

  6. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonPaula Ramsay says

    Just wondering if you could substitute sour cream or yogurt for the cottage cheese, instead of more butter?

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Naomi replied: — June 1st, 2012 @ 1:00 pm

      Paula – Absolutely you can, let me know what you think when you do.

  7. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    Hi! Loved the look of this!
    I tried to recreate it but the batters weren’t runny enough to flow like in the pictures. I baked it anyway (more marble than zebra) and the taste was great but the outside got burnt and some of the inside was not baked through :( is your oven fan-forced?


  8. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonChelsey O says

    I was just curious, is this recipe supposed to call for baking powder? The original zebra bunts cake recipe did. Thanks and excited to make this for a dinner party this week.

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Min replied: — April 17th, 2014 @ 6:29 pm

      Chelsey O, did you manage to make this bundt without the baking powder? How did it turned out? I’m planning to try this recipe but I’m as curious about the lack of baking powder..