This Genius Loaf Cake Is Everything That’s Good About Scones (And Nothing Bad)

May 10, 2017

This charming loaf may look like a pound cake, and act like a pound cake—and travel well and make sweet gifts like a pound cake. But it's quite a different little number, and thanks to a slew of hidden perks—it's better.

It takes all of 15 minutes to throw together the dough (in fact, the faster—and colder—it is when you slide it into the hot oven, the better). You won’t need to wait for butter to soften, and there is no frosting or icing to whip together, only a scruffy, sparkly, sugar-dusted top, and a side dollop of jam.

And perhaps most astonishingly, it’s a cake where the sugar is measured in a few slim tablespoons, rather than cups. (Having been testing and tasting scads of desserts in the past nine or so months, I’m in awe and very grateful for the cake-like experience this recipe gives you, with much less sugar than a typical cake or even banana bread.)

The secret to this genius loaf cake is that in its bones, it’s not really a cake. It’s a scone dough that just happens to bake up handsomely in a loaf pan. Baking genius Molly Yeh came up with it—loosely based on a favorite scone recipe from the Vanilla Bean Blog's Sarah Kieffer—and in doing so, smashed everything that’s good about scones and cakes (and nothing that’s bad) into one lovable, chocolate- and marzipan-pocketed loaf.

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Yeh calls it a scone loaf, which is perfect, and much better than scloaf, which I keep doing. It’s since become one of the most popular recipes in Molly on the Range, her cookbook full of novel treats, right next to her legendary funfetti cake. (Food52’s own Scone Lady mrslarkin also came up with a genius layered scone bread a few years back, if you’re looking for something more in the pull-apart family).

What’s more: Not only is scone loaf better than a cake, it’s also better than a scone! By baking all the dough at once in a loaf pan, it’s less likely to accidentally get overbaked or overworked than individual scones; it’s arguably easier to shape, and keeps longer (chalk it up to less exposed surface area, and a higher ratio of fluffy-soft innards).

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Top Comment:
“I guess I thought marzipan was just pretty little fruit-shaped candy. At 20 bucks a pound for the baking version on Amazon, I'm not sure I want to become addicted. Hope dried fruit will get the job done. For extra almond flavor, maybe substitute a minority of the flour with toasted almond flour? ”
— KS

You can also make any lingering slices do fun tricks like griddling the flat sides in butter, or using them for French toast or bread pudding a bit more easily than the oddly shaped rounds and triangular nubs of retired scones.

In this, Yeh's by-the-book version, she mixes in chocolate chips and sticky chunks of marzipan tossed in powdered sugar (to help keep them from sinking to the bottom). If I were near my mom this Mother’s Day, I would bake this exact version for her—I learned the joys of marzipan very early in life from her, because in every box of See’s chocolates, she went strictly after the raspberry cream and the marzipan, so naturally I did, too. This is also how I learned to share.

But if you don’t have the same marzipan gene that my mom and I do, you could riff with any add-ins you like—rhubarb or strawberries from the spring’s first crop, chopped candied ginger, orange zest, a cinnamon or cardamom sugar top.

“One very big reason why I got into baking was because I grew up thinking it was completely normal to wake up to fresh scones every Sunday. My mom is a scone wizard!” Yeh wrote to me. “In our house, baking was never seen as a scary intimidating task, but a thing that you should do all day long if you have a free day, and the best way to show someone you think they're pretty swell.” In honor of these two wizards, I recommend we start with a scloaf.

Photos by James Ransom

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Perhaps a genius dessert? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • vinoja
  • KS
  • Chelsea Williamson
    Chelsea Williamson
  • margefromTN
  • Nancy
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


vinoja August 5, 2020
KS April 29, 2020
Love the idea of a scloaf and can't wait to try it. But yowza. I guess I thought marzipan was just pretty little fruit-shaped candy. At 20 bucks a pound for the baking version on Amazon, I'm not sure I want to become addicted. Hope dried fruit will get the job done. For extra almond flavor, maybe substitute a minority of the flour with toasted almond flour?
Chelsea W. February 5, 2019
Love every recipe this girls puts out! A few questions to those of you who have made the recipe: did it freeze well? Did anyone make traditional scones instead of a loaf? Thanks in advance!
margefromTN December 15, 2018
In addition to subbing store bought almond paste, I'm thinking a few handfuls of dried cherries??? oh yes...
margefromTN December 15, 2018
Could canned Almond Paste (the basis for true French Macarones) be used instead of the marzipane? or.. how does one transform it INTO marzipan?

Nancy May 13, 2017
I bake scones almost every week, a variety of flavors; sweet and savory. I'll try this but I'm afraid I'll miss the cragginess of each scone. I'll get back to you. BTW, my fave is a cheddar-pecan scone.
Donna H. May 13, 2017
So, it's really low in sugar, except for the 7-8 oz of sugary marzipan 😉
bookjunky May 14, 2017
Yep. And the chocolate chips. Just what I was thinking.
Beverly September 16, 2017
You're so right. Marzipan is 50% sugar!
Almond Paste is slightly less sugar with a ration of 60:40
JaniceB May 12, 2017
I made this recipe as written, except for using chopped dark chocolate instead of chips. Brought it so work today with some apricot jam and got at "Grand slam" review. Ridiculously good and easy to make.
Tricia May 11, 2017
I made this today with orange zest and dried cranberries. It was delicious!
audreyj May 10, 2017
I would also like an answer to the baking soda question.
Shanna P. May 10, 2017
does anyone have any suggestions on where to find Marzipan in mainstream stores? I live in the Bay Area and can't seem to find it!
Laura415 May 12, 2017
Try making almond paste with ground almonds like you can get at Trader Joes or Bob's Red Mill almond flour.
1.5 c finely ground almonds,
1 egg white,
1.5 c powdered sugar,
2 tsp. almond extract.
Blend in food processor until it comes together like a crumbly dough.
Almond paste and Marzipan can be subbed out in this recipe. Almond paste is often more rustic and coarser. Marzipan is a finer paste but with similar ingredients possibly in different proportion. The powdered sugar in this recipe equals a little less than 1 c regular sugar.
Nanda G. March 21, 2018
If you can't find it at Draegers, whole foods, or Mollie Stones (most common is the Odense brand shelved next to their almond paste), they should have it at IKEA.
Simone S. May 10, 2017
Hi, can anyone advise me on how to make this dairy free? I'm not a "fine backer" and normally I just substitute the butter for oil and the milk for water (! but seriously, it's not worth subbing with almond milk, oat milk etc because they are basically just expensive water) but I wonder if there is a better milk substitute (i.e. the fats/milk solids etc I know have a purpose)...or will my oil/water solution work for this dough? Thanks in advance :)
Simone S. May 10, 2017
*"fine baker"!
Simone S. May 10, 2017
* "fine baker" !
Kim F. May 23, 2017
Simone - try Earth Balance (margarine), it's a great butter substitute in recipes like this, made for cooking and baking (as opposed to things like I Can't Believe It's Not Butter which are too watery to bake up nicely). You can find it in tubs and sticks, definitely at your local Whole Foods or hippie foods store, and increasingly at more mainstream grocery stores (my local Safeway carries it).
Simone S. May 23, 2017
Thank you so much Kim! I'll look out for it. I might also try a bit of coconut milk since it's quite fatty. Again, thanks for the details, I appreciate it :)
Karin B. May 10, 2017
Should that be baking soda, considering the buttermilk?
Winness May 10, 2017
I'll use almond paste and up the sugar to 3 or 4 tablespoons. I think the coarser texture of almond paste is not a bad thing given the addition of chocolate chips. Hopefully, the results will not disappoint. Thank you all for your help.
margefromTN December 15, 2018
Thank you! You answered the question I just asked!
Kaitlin B. May 10, 2017
Mmm! I'm still dreaming about the two slices I had yesterday.
Winness May 10, 2017
What is the difference between marzipan and almond paste, please? I frequent a store that sells almond paste in bulk.
Patricia May 10, 2017
Marzipan has sugar in it; almond paste does not.
kitwilliams May 10, 2017
Actually, almond paste DOES contain sugar, but it should have a higher ratio of almonds to sugar. Marzipan's main ingredient is sugar, almonds come in second. So you may not be adding much ADDITIONAL sugar to this recipe, but seven ounces of marzipan contains between four and five ounces of sugar.
Monique May 10, 2017
They both have sugar. Marzipan has more sugar than almond paste, almond paste has a coarser texture
goodcook May 10, 2017
Could you simply just add the chocolate chips?
Rhonda35 May 10, 2017
Based on the wording of the second-to-last paragraph of the article, I'd guess "yes" - it says you can riff on the add-ins to suit your tastes. :-)