Weeknight Cooking

Wake-Up Cocoa Quick Bread

December 20, 2010

Wake-Up Cocoa Quick Bread

- Jenny

As it turns out, I am not the most popular person in my new office, owing in large part, it seems, to my inability after several months to properly use the phrase "motion to proceed to consider."

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But I have been able to moderately woo my colleagues with all manner of baking and cooking. On the equipment side, there are those who have appreciated my offer to use the nice soup bowl I keep at my desk in lieu of microwaving their lunch in plastic containers. A colleague or two have gravitated toward my peppermill. Some have sauntered over to ask how to best prepare a lamb shank, but before I could answer, scampered away to join a conversation about the Defense Authorization Act, which is just as well as I am not totally sure.

In a coup de cookie, I organized a holiday goodie exchange, in which the faithful bakers exchanged our favorite goodies in a conference room, thinking we were well hidden, until other staff members, like so many osprey, began hovering outside, waiting for a crumb of cheesecake or stray dragee to fall their way.

So this brings me to the subject of what to bake. I don’t know about you, but I am getting cookie-d out. I don’t much want to see another chocolate ball or gingersnap, and even my grandmother’s butter cookies would have a hard time drawing me to a glass of milk. Still we all have hostess gifts to bring, so may I suggest Wake-Up Cocoa Quick Bread.

I am telling you right now, so you don’t get upset and desperately wish that you had made your own super chocolately cake, if that is what you are craving, this is a subtle goodie friends, something you bring as an antidote, not an addition, to the table of toffee and bark balls.

There isn’t a lot I can add to the very simple instructions, other than the obvious, which is to use whole milk if you can, and watch it carefully because you are dealing with a very “dry” recipe and you don’t want this to overcook. This is especially a concern if you decide to divide this into mini loafs, for gifting, as I did. An added bonus you will have noted is that you can stir it all up by hand.

I think you will want to enjoy this cake for breakfast, as SmallKitchCara suggests with the title. Add some jam if you want, or a nice pat of butter. It tastes even better on day three.

Wake-Up Cocoa Quick Bread

By SmallKitchCara

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons good-quality, natural cocoa powder (I like Schaeffen Berger)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cup milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a loaf pan and set it aside.

2. Mix together the flours, baking powder, salt, cocoa, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, combine the butter with the sugar and espresso powder. Add the egg, beating to distribute evenly, then pour in the milk. Using as few strokes as possible, stir in the dry ingredients.

3. Transfer to the loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, until the top is dry and slightly cracked. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a rack and cool further before slicing.

By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.

Jennifer Steinhauer


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drbabs January 1, 2011
Hi Jenny--I made this to bring over to friends' houses today. I wanted a moister cake so I cut the flour back to 2 cups all purpose and 1 cup whole wheat. It was easy, beautiful, and a very big hit. Thanks for introducing it!
Jestei March 28, 2011
this was an EXCELLENT tip. the incipient pescetarian made it this way for a school event and it was great.
fishesm December 22, 2010
My four-year-old says, "it's too good!" Ran out of granulated sugar so made a last minute grab for brown and threw in about a cup of leftover cranberries. Baked in 4 mini loaf pans for 30 minutes. Moist, delicious, and not too sweet. Thanks!
gingerroot December 21, 2010
Teensy attack of holiday-itis going on here...then I thought about this, and now I think I will be okay. Thanks, Jenny, once again, for lifting my mood - and on a Tuesday! Happy Holidays!
Sagegreen December 21, 2010
This does sound refreshing. I just finished making several dozen springerles, but they won't really be ready to eat for a few weeks. I probably will make some pfeffernusse and spekulaas, too, before I get cookied out.
mklug December 21, 2010
This will sound totally stupid (and might be best asked as a pickle), but are there any steps that need to be taken for high-altitudes when making quick bread?
I've almost always lived at high altitude, except for a few years in DC where every baked thing I made turned out weird (until I realized I was still following those h-a instructions).
Kitchen B. December 20, 2010
This is a great recipe - all ingredients are pantry staples and it is a snap to put together. I can imagine what some orange dust/blossom water and cardamom would do..........along with some chocolate chips!
Jestei December 20, 2010
If you add those PLEASE POST because I must know.
llskibum December 20, 2010
Yum, just made this in little loaf pans to give to my neighbors as a home baked pre-holiday treat. I like that it's not overly sweet or chocolately - just enough of a hint of sweetness to feel ok about eating it for breakfast. I didn't have espresso granules so decided to add some almond extract to give it a slightly almond taste. Really divine.
Jestei December 20, 2010
what a great idea. i want to try that too.
SWTorrey December 20, 2010
I had all the ingredients, too - hurray! Serving it today as an after-school snack. Has anyone tried this with chocolate chips?
Jestei December 20, 2010
that's interesting -- it would make it obviously more chocolate-y and that would change its essential nature, however, it would be more kid chocoholic friendly too. it depends on what your aim is.
mcs3000 December 20, 2010
Goodness, we really are brown bag nerds. I have a soup bowl on my desk too. Right next to my Weck jar with genmaicha tea. And @drbabs, if you try the French toast idea, please let us know. Sounds grand.
Jestei December 20, 2010
let's start a club. oh wait. this is our club!
drbabs December 20, 2010
I wonder how it would be as French toast? Thanks for a great alternative to cookies!
Kitchen B. December 20, 2010
Superb idea........daughter #1, the choco fiend would loveeeeeeee it!
Jestei December 20, 2010
Let me know if you try it. My spidy sense tells me it would fall apart but not sure of that.
drbabs December 22, 2010
Oh, you're probably right--I guess it's more cake than bread....
Cara E. December 20, 2010
Ooh--so glad the bread could save you from sweets overload. You're right to warn people that it can be a little dry and that it gets better with age (so don't eat it all at once!). Thanks for featuring it!
Jestei December 20, 2010
i loved it!
cookfordays December 20, 2010
the good news is, I have all of the ingredients in my house already to make this bread. LOVE!
Jestei December 20, 2010
let us know how yours works out.
mrslarkin December 20, 2010
Happy Monday, everyone. Mmm...chocolate, my favorite food group.
Jestei December 20, 2010
me too. and sea salt. xx oo