Sweet 16 Tiered Zebra Cake

Sweet 16 birthday parties are always so much fun to bake for. One of my baking highlights this Spring was the opportunity to bake a Sweet 16 tiered Zebra cake for Autumn.

The cake was inspired by 3 other cake designs that Autumn’s mother sent to me. It was fun to take what I considered to be the most interesting parts of each cake to arrive at something perfectly customized for Autumn.

Making the Cake

Once you have a nice drawing of your final plan (and hopefully a great image in your head), it is time to bake the cake. I suggest you bake the cake and crumb coat each tier the day before you final frost and tier it. This cake is a 10″, 8″and 6″ combination. Bake each cake, fill, and frost with a crumb coat. Each cake should be on its own cardboard round trimmed to the size of the cake. Store them in the fridge overnight.

We originally planned to have a fondant cake topper. However, after talking more, decided that theĀ sparkling 16 would be really nice. The topper is sized for cupcakes, so I elevated it on top of a pile of fondant ribbons so it would have the appropriate scale. This was my first time doing an inlaid design on a cake, too! Read more about the steps for making the cake below the pictures.

Sweet Sixteen Tiered Zebra Cake


  1. Before you begin rolling the stripes, roll out white and black fondant separately. Cut the black stripes and lay them on top of the white fondant. Notice that I left the center non-striped in step 1 (above), since it was for the bottom tier and would be covered. Once you have your strips laid on the fondant, cover with plastic wrap and roll out carefully. This allows the two materials to bond together.
  2. Cover the bottom tier just the way you would normally cover with a single piece of fondant. Trim excess fondant. Now before you move to step 3 (above), cover your middle tier with pink fondant. Trim the edges.
  3. Repeat step one for the top tier. This time you’ll want to cover the entire surface with the stripes. Because this is only a 6″ tier, you’ll need less fondant to cover the cake. If your sides are 4″ tall, plan on a 14 inch circle.
  4. Cover your top tier just as you covered the other two tiers. Trim.


When all 3 cakes are covered with fondant, lay the first cake on top of your base. Use icing or double-sided tape to affix the base of the bottom cake to the board (if you prefer, the cake may be covered with fondant and placed right on the board with no extra base). Use 4 sturdy 1 inch hollow plastic dowels in the bottom cake, trimmed to proper height. Place icing between the tiers. Lay the 2nd tier on top of the first. Repeat this process for the 2nd tier, this time using 3 hollow plastic dowels cut to size. Top with the third tier. Use one long wooden dowel sharpened on one end and push it through all three tiers. Cut dowel to have about 1 inch sticking above the cake. After the cake is assembled, make the borders for each tier. I used black fondant balls. Roll out fondant and cut into small rectangles, then roll into balls. Cover the bottom of the outside of each tier with the fondant balls. You may also use a stacking cake system or any other method that you like for tiering the cakes.

To make the bow, follow my gum gum paste bow tutorial.

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