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.
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 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.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).