When I first glanced at this Starbucks recipe and read the name, I assumed that it would come out as a kind of quick bread, the sort of loaf that is slightly dense and goes splendidly with a cup of coffee. Now, I won’t argue that it doesn’t go well with coffee (it does), but it is most certainly not as much aÂ bread as it is a cake.Not that there is anything wrong with that, of course. After all, who’s really going to argue with chocolate cake, especially when it smells as fantastic as this one did during baking?
This loaf cake is very light and tender, with a soft and cakey crumb to it. It has loads of chocolate flavor, although the veryÂ dark color of the bread means that this should not come as a surprise when you bite into a piece. The cinnamon in the batter came through nicely without overpowering the chocolate, giving the cake an excellent balance of flavors. My favorite part was definitely the sugar crust. It was made by sprinkling a generous amount of lightly spiced sugar (I used fairly coarse evaporated cane juice for added crunchiness) onto the top of the loaf before baking, which hardened into a thin, crispy, delicious crust in the oven.
The one problem I had with this recipe was that there was some extra sugar from the crust that didn’t completely adhere to the surface of the loaf during baking. This meant that a fair amount of sugar came loose when I turned the bread out of the pan to cool, coating a good portion of my kitchen counter. Fortunately, you can easily avoid the mess I made by folding a soft dish towel and covering the top of the loaf before inverting the pan. Turn the bread out into the dish towel, then reinvert onto a wire cooling rack. It is important that your towel is soft to minimize cracking of the sugar crust during this process. Once the cake is cooling, just shake all of the excess sugar off the towel over the sink or a trash bag.
It’s impractical for Starbucks to bake on-site at all their locations, since that’s really not what they do, but I think that if consumers could smell this thing baking when they walked into a cafe, they would buy up pastries twice as fast as they do now. I was tempted to start on another loaf before this one was done, just to keep the smell going. And speaking of second loaves, the original recipe(pdf) makes two loaves, if you want to go with the original, rather than with my adaptation of the recipe below.
Chocolate Cinnamon Bread with Sugar Crust
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cocoa powder
pinch ground cloves
Preheat the oven to 350F and thoroughly grease a 9×5″ loaf pan.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time, waiting until the previous egg has been completely incorporated before adding the next.
In a medium bowl, sift together all purpose flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
In a measuring cup, whisk together buttermilk, water and vanilla extract.
Working in two or three additions, alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture to the sugar mixture. Begin and end with an addition of the flour mix.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
In a small bowl, whisk together topping ingredients: sugar, cinnamon, cocoa powder and ground cloves. Sprinkle evenly on top of the loaf cake.
Bake at 350F for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Allow cake to cool in pan for 10-15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and turn out onto a wire cooling rack.
Cool completely before slicing.
Makes 1 loaf.