Wake-Up Cocoa Powder Quick Bread

January 25, 2010
3 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Serves 1 loaf
Author Notes

This loaf cake is inspired by pain d'epice, only it's made with cocoa and espresso powder rather than spices and honey. But it's not so rich and decadent, so it's more easily stomached at breakfast. It's nice toasted and topped with creme fraiche or butter. —Cara Eisenpress

What You'll Need
  • 2 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 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups 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.
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  • Angela Morales
    Angela Morales
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    Josiah Belflower
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  • LeBec Fin
    LeBec Fin
I'm the founder, editor, and head chef at the blog Big Girls, Small Kitchen (www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com), a site dedicated to easy-to-execute recipes and stories from a quarter-life kitchen. I'm also the author of In the Small Kitchen published in 2011.

24 Reviews

Angela M. December 5, 2020
Nice texture, pleasantly crumbly but flavor is bland. Next time I might add melted unsweetened chocolate and maybe amplify the spices—almond extract? Maybe buttermilk instead of regular milk? It definitely needs some tweaking.
Josiah B. December 2, 2020
We really enjoyed the subtle bitter sweetness of this quick bread. The whole wheat gives the bread a lovely texture. This is something I would like to share with some friends with an afternoon coffee.
Ven July 20, 2020
Awful recipe omg! It tasted like nothing. And I did the adjusted version with 3 cups of flour imagine that..
tanteilonka August 10, 2017
Booooring. I had high hopes since I made this with the adjusted 3 cups of flours, plus my own changes: double the espresso, 1tsp vanilla, 1TB olive oil. Was still dry and bland. PS I baked for only 35 minutes!
basketpam March 15, 2015
It appears as if this recipe has been adjusted. Many of the comments mention it having four cups of flour and that being far too much. The recipe that I see has only a total of 3 cups of flour. Does anyone know if this recipe has been updated?
gailllc March 15, 2015
It has to have, basketpam, because in my comments below, I would never have bothered increasing the liquidity (milk vs yogurt) or decreased flour with the proportions now listed (2 c. white, 1 c. whole wheat) And my result was still a dry, toastable bread. Now I'm interested to go back to a greek yogurt version for the added protein it would have! Time for more baking :)
Rebeccah February 12, 2014
I was soooo looking forward to this recipe, as a quick chocolatey fix but unfortunately it is so disappointing. The recipe has too much flour and not enough flavour. Stupidly, I didn't read the comments of the other reviewers before making this. Sorry, but I won't be trying this again.
teafanatic October 12, 2013
We make this in our bread maker, loaf comes out a bit dry but perfect once slices are toasted, and it has become a favorite in our house. Thanks for sharing! Wonder if it would be more moist with less flour as others have suggested...may try next time.
LeBec F. April 22, 2013
cara, others have commented on the recipe, but I am here to thank you for the NAME of your dish. Love It! A breakfast foods Product Manager's dream!
adele93 February 12, 2013
I have just made this, it was a little dry and just tasted like an average choc cake,also i used dutch cocoa and it was much darker than the picture, though i will attempt it again with some alterations, maybe more expresso,less cocoa and 35 minutes in the oven
Kathy C. March 18, 2012
I just made this chocolate loaf and it was very very delicious. I used one cup of whole wheat flour and two cups of all purpose flour as drbabs suggested. It was divine. I also used a little more espresso powder...not sure if it made a difference but I did cook it for the minimum time. It came out moist and wonderful. My husband loved it and I will certainly make it again. Thanks for much for the wonderful recipe. And, oh, yes, I used l/2 & l/2 instead of milk. It may have made a difference (didn't have milk on hand) and it was so moist. This is not a sweet bread but certainly sweet enough! And a wonderful tea cake.
Kiley March 15, 2012
NOT A GOOD RECIPE!!! This was like a rock and used a lot of product. I was greatly disappointed. Did anyone make this with all 4 cups of flour and like it?
drbabs March 15, 2012
I've made it, and I cut the flour back to 3 cups total. 4 cups is too many in my humble opinion.
Jenny featured it about a year ago (http://food52.com/blog/1483_wakeup_cocoa_quick_bread), and I commented on reducing the flour there as well. With 3 cups, I thought it was good. I served it at a meeting with coffee and tea.
me B. February 25, 2012
I love the idea of a chocolate cake sin the sugary frosting, so does my dad. I'll have to try this one for him! I wonder if I can substitute a shot, or two, of strong espresso in place of the instant powder since I don't have the powder but I do have some Lavazza dark espresso...maybe this could combat the dryness.
Rocks&Glasshouses February 25, 2012
Love it! I did however make a few changes to make it even more bread-like: 1) I used 1-2 tablespoons of honey instead of sugar, 2) cardamom instead of cinnamon and 3) I changed the amount of flour to 2 cups of whole grain (spelt, in my case) and 1 cup regular white flour. I had no idea if it would work, but it turned out to be incredibly delicious - despite its highly unconventional taste.
Mr J. February 13, 2012
Hi. I am new to the site and I made this bread over the weekend. Sorry, it was horrible and ended up in the garbage. Maybe it is because I am new to the site but I assumed that a "Community Pick!" would be good. I am a experienced in the kitchen so it isn't a matter or a novice messing up a recipe.

Quality control? Is that something that you should have here? I am gun-shy about trying other recipes here due to the fact that I wasted ingredients and time making this one. I would want to know this if it was my website.
Mr J. February 12, 2012
If the flour and measurement are WRONG why hasn't this recipe been corrected?
gailllc January 14, 2012
I made my tweaks and found this breakfast bread to be delightful! So did my husband and son. We like it plain or toasted and/or spread with butter, Biscoff spread, Nutella, or peanut butter. My tweaks: increase cocoa to mounded 1/3 c. (6-7Tbsp.); sub 1/2 c. milk for 1/2 c. plain greek yogurt; double the espresso powder -- you can juuuuuust taste it at this level; decrease white flour by 1/2 c. When you are assembling: first measure milk/yogurt then stir the whole wheat flour into it; let stand while you measure everything else. Proceed with mixing. DO NOT OVERBAKE. If you want more flavor in the bread so it is more snack/dessert-like, add another 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp vanilla. Hope you can enjoy it as much as we have!
gailllc January 1, 2012
The idea sounds delicious! I wonder, with more espresso powder, if you'd need your morning coffee? Breakfast and coffee in one slice! Can't wait to play with this! Will possibly add some vanilla yogurt to combat dryness complaints...
Chefbaltz December 1, 2011
this was aweful. sorry, but the flour quantities are just wrong. thank goodness i read the comments and decreased the flour to 2 cups all purpose and 1 cup whole wheat. it still wasn't edible. i had to throw it out. maybe the flour should be cut back even more?
drbabs December 2, 2011
It really is more bread than cake, but you probably could cut it back a little more.
aruna January 14, 2011
I made it as it reads. It was much too dry. Agree with drbabs about cutting flour back to 3 cups total. It also could use a tsp of vanilla.
drbabs January 1, 2011
Hi Cara--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. Will definitely make it again.