Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Rustic Cocoa Loaf Cake

I've been grumpy a lot lately. It's weird because so many things are going well. Even on days when good things happen, I find myself discontented and grumbly. I think it's the weather.

I was prepared for this to be a hard semester. I'm spending the vast majority of it home by myself. I figured I'd end up a little stir crazy. But it hasn't been so bad. Jeff's snow days and the job talks I've been going to campus for mean that I've been around people far more than I'd expected. This is good. I think my problem is the winter itself. I want to go outside. I want to watch my plants start to peep up out of the soil. I want to rake flower beds and trim branches to get ready for the new season.

But alas, my garden is buried under a few storms' worth of snow. And today, a fresh coat of ice.

What's a girl to do when the forces of nature are working against her? Bake something chocolate, of course!

Today's recipe came about entirely because I was grumpy. I thought chocolate might cheer me up. It did, a little. That and TMC's late medieval and Tudor movie marathon last night. But I'm sure the cake was a big part of it.

This is an interesting sort of cake. It comes out of the oven looking like a normal loaf, but as it cools the center collapses almost like a souffle. The center of the collapsed bit is a rich, dense bundle of chocolate goodness. The top crust seemed lighter and eggy to me, almost like the top of an angel food cake (makes sense - three eggs is a lot for one loaf). Overall, this was perfectly satisfying for a lousy, icy, grumbly day.

Rustic Cocoa Loaf Cake
Adapted from The Spiced Life blog.

6 tbsp high-quality Dutch cocoa powder (I confess, I just used the normal stuff I had on hand)
1/4 c heavy cream
1 c + 2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick butter, softened
1 1/2 c superfine sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c chocolate chips (my secret weapon - I definitely think they amped up the cake)
(1/4 tsp espresso powder - The recipe includes this. Espresso powder is often used to enhance the flavor of chocolate. Since I don't like coffee and don't want to taste coffee in my chocolate, I always leave it out.)

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a loaf pan with baking spray.

Sift the cocoa powder (and espresso powder, if you're going there) into a small, heatproof bowl (I confess again, I didn't actually bother sifting. It still came out fine). Add the cream to a small saucepan and put over low heat until it just begins to boil. Remove from the heat and pour over the cocoa. Use a spatula to mash them together into a thick paste.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth and fluffy. Add the cocoa paste and beat together until the mixture is smooth.

With the mixture on low speed (speed 2 on my Kitchenaid), add the eggs one at a time, scraping down sides between each one. Then add the vanilla and mix well. Finally, turn the mixer down to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, scraping down sides between each addition. After the last addition, increase the speed a bit for a few seconds until the batter looks thoroughly mixed. Add the chocolate chips and stir to combine.

Pour the batter into the prepare pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake about 70 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. (The cake will collapse in the middle. That's what makes it rustic.)


  1. When do you add the chocolate chips?

  2. Oops. Sorry about that - I fixed the recipe. The chips get stirred into the completed batter just before pouring it into the pan.