Coffee cake doesn’t usually have coffee in it – but this easy to make Coffee Swirl Quick Bread could easily be termed a coffee cake because it makes coffee a featured flavor. The bread has both vanilla and coffee-flavored batters swirling together in one beautiful looking loaf. The color of the coffee is rich, so it almost makes you expect to get chocolate when you take a bite, but the rich, not-too-sweet coffee flavor is a pleasant surprise and a nice match for the lighter vanilla half of the bread.
I think of this loaf as a great brunch item, or a good thing to pair with an afternoon cup of coffee. It has a nice sweetness to it, but it doesn’t quite have the level of sweetness that it needs to be a true dessert cake, which is why I tend to serve it before dinner (although you can certainly enjoy a slice any time!). The bread is fluffy and tender, and both the coffee and vanilla flavors are very distinct – great for a coffee lover like me.
I wanted the swirl on this bread to be very pronounced, with big blocks of color and clearly separated flavors. I achieved this by adding the two batters to the baking pan in dollops, creating an almost polka dot (albeit with very large dots)-type pattern in the pan. This gave me big blocs of color. I ran a knife through the batter just once, making a large S shape, to ensure that the two colors came together nicely and there was a little bit of a swirling effect. This delivered coffee in some bites and vanilla in others, giving the effect of eating two different breads at the same time and creating a beautiful finished look.
I finished my loaf off with a sprinkling of Vanilla Sugar, although plain sugar does just as good a job of adding a hint of crunch to the top of the bread. If you do want to make it a little bit more dessert-y, you can also finish this with a drizzle of chocolate glaze.
Coffee Swirl Bread
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tbsp instant coffee
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp warm water
coarse sugar, for topping
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Stir in half of the dry ingredients, followed by the milk. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients, mixing only until no streaks of flour remain.
In a small bowl, whisk together instant coffee and brown sugar with warm water. Stir to dissolve the coffee. Transfer about half of the vanilla batter into the small bowl and stir until batter is a uniform coffee color.
Add dollops of vanilla and coffee batters to prepared pan (making an almost polka-dot pattern) and run a butter knife through the pan once or twice to swirl the two colors gently together.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs attached. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 1 loaf.