Finnish Tiger Cake

Mini Tiikerikakku (Marble Pound Cake)

Oh friends, it's been decades since I've made this old Finnish recipe, a pound cake with iconic chocolate stripes, just like tiger stripes. But isn't it just fun? (And oh, can't we use a little fun right now?) It's easy to make on a whim, in fact, definitely simple enough to share mixing and baking with kids. And ... for those of us who are in small households, my version is a small cake specially scaled for a half-size Bundt pan. If you only have a big Bundt pan? Just double the recipe and freeze cake slices for later.

Finnish Tiger Cake ♥, a mini chocolate marble pound cake with stripes just like a tiger, easy to double for a large family or a party.

Fun for Kids. Budget-Friendly. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Freezes Well.

Lions & Tigers & Bears, OH MY!

On My Mind ♥, tigers on Netflix, in the news and in a classic Finnish cake, a mini pound cake with stripes of chocolate, just like a tiger!

So many scary surprises around the corners right now ...

But it's tigers on Netflix and in the news which compelled me to make a Finnish Tiger cake for the first time in not just years but decades.

Forgive Me a Quick Look Back?

When I first arrived in Finland as a Rotary exchange student, my language skills skidded to a hard stop after "hello" and "thank you". So while I was junior in a Finnish high school, during those first weeks, I learned little and worse, sheer boredom left me super-sleepy: not a good look for a student ambassador.

To help, the principal suggested joining a home ec class with some younger girls who proved thrilled to practice their already well-formed English conversational skills with the girl from America.

And of course, we spoke a common language: the lingua franca of the kitchen.

That first day in home ec, our small baking groups stirred together butter and sugar and flour and afterward, we sat down to ooo and ahhh and giggle over the stripes in our tiger cakes. All these years and I still remember ...

So What Is a Tiger Cake?

Finnish Tiger Cake ♥, a mini chocolate marble pound cake with stripes just like a tiger, easy to double for a large family or a party.

A tiger cake (tikkerikakku, pronounced TEEK-kare-ee-KOK-oo in Finnish) is a pound cake. That's the cake whose ingredients are easy to remember, a pound of butter, a pound of sugar and a pound of flour.

Whoa, that's one giant cake!

But not mine.

My small-batch recipe barely strays from those 1:1:1 proportions, 112 grams of butter, 100 grams of sugar and 125 grams of flour.

A tiger cake is also a marble pound cake, that's a cake with two batters that create the distinctive marbleized appearance. For Tiger Cake, one batter is vanilla, the other is chocolate.

Some creative baker imagined tiger stripes in the batter ... and thus, yes, tiger cake!

Special Considerations for Scaling Down Favorite Cake Recipes

Scaling recipes is as much art as pure math, avoiding awkwardness like half an egg or 9 tablespoons of butter. Here are some of the nuances I've learned about baking small cakes. It's often more complex than just cutting a recipe in half, say.

All these apply to this mini Finnish Tiger Cake. Perhaps you have recipes you'd like to scale down?

  • Work backwards, starting with the ingredients in grams, then return to cups and tablespoons for bakers more comfortable with volume measurements.
  • Aim for "normal" volumes, 1 cup vs the impractical precision of 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon, say.
  • Aim for easy scaling, make it easy to double or triple the recipe for bakers who want larger cakes.
  • Realize that a stand mixer is likely just too big for a small volume of cake batter. That's why I recommend the better control of a hand mixer. Even so, it's also likely that the bowl and mixer blades will need to be scraped once or twice or even often in order to fully mix all the ingredients.
  • Baking times will vary, but less than you might think. Check at half the time, then every five minutes until the cake is done.

You Might Wonder Be Wondering ...

  • What If I Don't Have a Half-Size Bundt Pan? Just double the recipe for a full-size Bundt cake. If doubling the recipe, a stand mixer should work fine.

  • What About Just Using a Full-Size Bundt Pan? Hmmm, great question. I haven't tested this but think it might work. The cake would be shorter, of course, and the baking time would be uncertain. But yes, I think this might work!

  • What If I Don't Have a Hand Mixer? It is possible to mix a pound cake by hand but will take a lot of mixing to whip air into the butter and sugar.

  • Wait. This Recipe Calls for Baking Powder. I Thought Pound Cakes Used No Leavening. Good catch, you good baker you! You're right. So let's just call this an "untraditional" pound cake, shall we? I like to include a little baking powder, just like my Finnish home ec teacher did, because it compensates for so many things, the amount of air whipped into the butter, sugar and eggs; the actual size of the eggs, there's considerable variability; the actual weight of the sugar and flour if measured by volume. With baking powder, these differences matter less.

  • Is The Chocolate Flavor Really Strong? It's not, even with intense unsweetened cocoa powder like Hershey's Special Dark, the chocolate stripes are mildly chocolate-y. Could you drizzle a chocolate ganache over top? Sure. But at least to my taste, this is such a pretty, buttery cake, I'm happy with its dramatic appearance.

You'll Love Finnish Tiger Cake If ...

  • Just the name makes you smile!
  • A simple cake will make your day
  • Baking supplies are running low
  • A mini cake is smarter than a giant temptation
  • Ready to get started? Here's your recipe!

Finnish Tiger Cake ♥, a mini chocolate marble pound cake with stripes just like a tiger, easy to double for a large family or a party.

FINNISH TIGER CAKE (Tiikkerikakku)

Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time-to-table: 1 hour but improves over a day or two
Makes a half-size mini Bundt cake, about 12 small slices

Double the recipe for a full-size Bundt pan
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick/112g) butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla paste or vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, one at a time
  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 of the Vanilla Batter
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Hershey's Special Dark
  • 1 tablespoon milk or cream

Set oven to 350F/180C. Spray a half-size Bundt pan with baking spray.

SCRAPE! With a small-batch cake, it's extra-important to really mix the ingredients well at each stage, otherwise, you'll end up with a still-delicious but imperfect cake. So for short, below, I'm going to say "SCRAPE!" and you know that means it's time to use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl and a knife to clean off the wire beaters, all to re-incorporate what would otherwise not get fully mixed. Got it? Okay, yeah, you've got this. :-)

VANILLA BATTER In a medium-size mixing bowl, use an electric hand mixer to mix the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. SCRAPE! once and maybe twice. Add the vanilla paste or vanilla. One at a time, mix in the eggs, completely incorporating each one before adding the other. SCRAPE! after each egg.

FOLD IN THE FLOUR & BAKING POWDER Do SCRAPE! one last time before adding the flour and baking powder. Put the mixer aside. Switch to a spatula and fold the flour and baking powder into the butter-sugar-egg mixture. SCRAPE! then fold the mixture again, ensuring the flour is distributed throughout.

CHOCOLATE BATTER Transfer about 1/3 of the Vanilla Batter into a small bowl and use a spoon to stir in the cocoa powder and milk or cream until fully incorporated.

PAINT THOSE STRIPES! This is super easy. You'll want four small spoons, two for each bowl, one for scooping, one for scraping. Start with the Vanilla Batter and scoop/scrape two spoonsful of batter into the bottom of the pan some distance apart. Now scoop/scrape on spoonful of Chocolate Batter between the scoops of Vanilla Batter. Repeat this, 2 Vanilla Batter, then 1 Chocolate Batter, alternating the colors, random is fine, so is precision, whatever works for you as you slowly use up both batters. With the back of a spoon, smooth the top of the batter.

BAKE for 30 – 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the edges begin to pull away from the pan. (For a double batch in a large Bundt pan, the timing is 50 – 60 minutes.)

COOL Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 – 10 minutes. Carefully invert the pan, releasing it onto a cutting board or some firm surface. Let finish cooling before cutting.

TO SERVE Cut into slices and take a moment to revel in the beauty of your tiger stripes! Enjoy as is with a cup of hot coffee or a glass of icy-cold milk.

TO STORE Cover the cake well, it'll keep for several days. In fact, like other pound cakes, the flavors actually seem to develop over time. Hmmm. Maybe a double batch was in order after all.

VARIATIONS Orange zest would be a lovely addition! So would bourbon as a vanilla substitute.

ALANNA's TIPS "Room temperature" butter, of course, varies by the temperature of your kitchen. What you want to shoot for is butter that's still firm enough to keep its shape when you press a fingertip into it but not so soft that you could easily push that same finger all the way through the stick.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Slice, assumes 12: 186 Calories; 8g Tot Fat; 5g Sat Fat; 56mg Cholesterol; 133mg Sodium; 25g Carb; 0g Fiber; 17g Sugar; 2g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 4 & PointsPlus 5 & SmartPoints 9 & Freestyle 9 & myWW green 9 & blue 9 & purple 9
Adapted from a recipe from a high school Home Ec class at Tikkurila school in Vantaa, just outside Helsinki.

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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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