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Chocolate Cinnamon Bread with Sugar Crust

Starbucks Chocolate Cinnamon Bread

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 a 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 very 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.

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  • Deborah
    September 12, 2007

    I printed this out the other day when you posted about the Starbucks recipes – now I really want to make it!!

  • mamasutra
    September 12, 2007

    I made your gingerbread pancakes last weekend and they were amazing (“these could possibly be the best pancakes I have ever eaten” said my significant other). Now I want to make this (right now!!!). I loved the idea of the loaf when I saw it at starbucks, but their version didn’t quite do it for me. I’m curious (and very optimistic after the pancakes success!) to see what you’ve done with your version.

  • Alanna
    September 12, 2007

    Very pretty, Nic! I looked through the cookbook this weekend, there were even several vegetables that caught my eye … one cannot live by baking alone.

  • mrs potato head
    September 13, 2007

    I too went to the starbucks site and printed this out when you mentioned it the other day. It looks fantastic.
    Do you think it would work in friand tins or mini muffin tins?

  • Nicole
    September 13, 2007

    Mrs. PH – I do think that this would work in mini muffin tins to make some very cute little coffeecakes. I think you might need a bit more sugar topping (to ensure that each one has a good crust), but they should be very tasty!

  • meeso
    September 13, 2007

    This bread looks amazing! I will be trying this very soon 🙂

  • Beck
    September 14, 2007

    This was SO great! I made it yesterday and every single crumb of it has been devoured by my kids.

  • e
    September 16, 2007

    I made this immediately after reading the recipe on your blog. My roommates and I loved it so much, I’m going to make another loaf soon. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Heidi
    September 17, 2007

    Thanks for the lead on this recipe. I made it yesterday and it was pronounced by one eater as the very best thing I’ve ever made. Also, thanks for the tip about the sugar crust falling off–per your recommendation I turned my loaves out onto a towel and simply poured the extra down the drain!

  • cara
    September 20, 2007

    so i read this when you posted it and thought… mmm that sounds divine… then i was invited to a party this weekend and i need to make something to my monthly knitting get together. so i promptly stopped at a starbucks (not my preferred thing to do) but i had to try this recipe before i made it… the next item on my list of things to do, go to the store for a few items i need for said recipe. i can’t wait to share this yummy sensation this weekend 🙂 thanks for sharing!

  • pumpkinpie
    September 22, 2007

    Thanks for sharing this recipe! I baked this in my Hershey’s silicone loaf pans, and my tea party loved it. I sprayed the pan with cooking spray and sprinkled the sugar to coat then poured in the batter, sprinkled the rest on the top, and flipped it onto the serving tray after baking. Normally I do not love cakes without frosting but this one is really incredible.

  • lahainaluna
    October 3, 2007

    I made this and it was amazing. Everyone could not quite pin down the spice that went along with the chocolate. All were surprised it was cinnamon.

    I made it though without seeing it for sale at Starbucks. I sliced it fairly thin and cut the slices in half for a group snack. It was pretty tender and sort of fell apart but everyone loved it anyway and practically licked the plate. I caught them scrunching up the crumbs!

    I later went to Starbucks and saw a slice they sell and was amazed at how huge the portion was. Knowing how they sell it, next time I will cut thicker slices and quarter them instead of half. Honestly, they sell twice as much in a serving as they should – too rich. This will however, remain one of my favorites! I’ll make it again and again.

  • fahrrad
    March 6, 2009

    Dies ist ein großer Ort. Ich möchte hier noch einmal.

  • ali
    July 23, 2009

    this was SO good, it will probably become one of my staples!

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    October 10, 2009

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  • MIchelle
    February 10, 2012

    I am wondering if this could this be put into a dutch oven?

  • Alina
    March 27, 2012

    Just noticed the recipe was posted in ’07. Anyway, thank you for posting this! I had one loaf on Sunday and couldn’t stop thinking about it.
    Now I’m in trouble…

  • Monica
    April 3, 2012

    OMG it is soo good. I made it in the form of muffins instead of a loaf. It came out perfect. Not only was it moist, but it is sooo chocolaty with the perfect balance of cinnamon.

    Thank you for such an awesome recipe!!!

  • Pattie Stejskal
    December 10, 2012

    Hi. I have been baking this recipe for ears now and love it! However this year my age is catching up with me and I am uncertain as to what Type of cocoa to use. Unsweetened or cocoa used to make hot chocolate? I really appreciate the help as I am planning on making a few batches for gifts this year!

  • Nicole
    December 10, 2012

    Hi Pattie, You should use unsweetened cocoa. I’m glad to hear that this recipe is a favorite!

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