Chocolate Loaf Cake: simply wonderful.

I brake for chocolate.

I also break for chocolate.

And bake with chocolate.

How about you?

I’ve had a lifelong love affair with chocolate – starting with Hostess Cupcakes, proceeding to college days spent making chocolate brownies from a box mix (guaranteed to draw boys into the dorm kitchen), and continuing with flourless chocolate cake (my go-to fancy dinner-party dessert during my 30s).

Since then, chocolate has always been on my baking radar. Brownies (along with pizza, Chinese food, and spaghetti and meatballs, IMHO) never lose their allure. Nor does a good chocolate layer cake – may I suggest Chocolate Stout Cake as both a standout in its field – and perfect for St. Pat’s Day?

The following chocolate cake isn’t a layer cake; in fact, it doesn’t even sport the usual crown of frosting. Instead, it’s a rather austere (yet nonetheless compelling) cake, perfect for all manner of occasions.

Lay a slice on a plate, top with vanilla ice cream and salted pecans, add chocolate ganache and whipped cream: instant paradise.

Use it in a trifle. Grill two slices with a chocolate bar in between for a dessert take on grilled cheese. Or simply enjoy a slice with a cup of coffee.

Chocolate is something that’ll always delight, never disappoint. And at the end of the day, isn’t that the definition of the perfect love affair?

Let’s make Chocolate Loaf Cake.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Lightly grease a 9” x 5“ loaf pan (as I’m using here); or an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan, which will make a higher-crowned loaf.

Put the following in a mixing bowl:

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, preferably at room temperature for easiest mixing
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons espresso powder, optional, to enhance chocolate flavor
2/3 cup Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa powder

While it’s not critical, I like to add 2 tablespoons Cake Enhancer, as well. This helpful ingredient helps keep cake, muffins, and bread soft and moist.

Mix to make a sandy, somewhat clumpy mixture. Don’t worry; the eggs will smooth things out.

Add 3 large eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl midway through this process.

Hmmm, where to put down that chocolate-y spatula?

Well, not on your recipe, like I did. Makes it pretty hard to read afterwards!

Ah-HA! How about setting it in the greased pan? Perfect.

Here’s the batter with all 3 eggs added. A tiny bit grainy, but overall, pretty smooth.

Next, you’re going to add 1 1/4 cups (5 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, and 3/4 cup milk.

But not all at once.

Add half the flour to the bowl, beating at low speed to combine.

Add all of the milk, beating at low speed to combine.

Add the remaining flour, beating gently just until the batter is smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

If you’ve used a 9″ x 5″ pan, the batter won’t fill the pan very full; that’s OK. An 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ pan will be about 3/4 full.

Bake the cake for 60 to 70 minutes.

It’ll dome nicely.

Remove the cake from the oven. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean. The top may look a tiny bit damp; that’s OK.

If you have an instant-read thermometer, the center will register about 205°F, while just under the top will register about 195°F.

Remove the cake from the oven, loosen the edges, wait 10 minutes, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool.

Patience; don’t slice the cake until it’s completely cool. Nice texture, eh?

I can see cutting this into cubes for trifle; or slicing, then grilling or frying, and topping with ice cream and fudge sauce. Are you with me?

Store completely cooled cake well wrapped, at room temperature.

Bake, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Chocolate Loaf Cake.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Quinn

    I am WITH YOU!!! That looks simply perfect 🙂 So often I read a chocolate cake recipe that just seems too complicated (to me; I’m sure many people are very happy with complicated recipes!)
    From my perspective, less is more and why gild the lily? This cake looks just right, and I will try it soon. Thank you!


    Enjoy, Quinn – and tell Piper “good job;” I’m sure she watched HayMan as well as any dog could… PJH

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      This recipe should work fine if you substitute our Gluten-Free Measure for Measure flour for the all-purpose flour called for. If you don’t have this type of gluten-free flour, you might enjoy this recipe, which is written to be gluten-free. Barb@KAF

  2. argentyne

    That looks AMAZING. I could see adding cinnamon to it as well, and then cutting it into cubes, letting it go stale, and making bread pudding with it too!

    Must remind myself that I need to bake BREAD this weekend, not cake… I wonder if I could make cake anyway. 😉

    I’ll bet you could make bread AND cake – I’m sure the National Better Baking Bureau would have no objection! PJH

  3. omaria

    Oh PJ, now you’re talking!! That cake looks wonderful. I will make it and take it to the ice rink Saturday. It will be a perfect snack for all the ice hockey moms and dads and ice hockey grandparents too. (Might add a little touch of Fiori to it.)

    Slices beautifully, ‘Ria – feeds quite a few! I can also see cutting in 1″ chunks and dipping in ganache… YUM. 🙂 PJH

  4. asessions64

    I’ve been looking for a treat to make my kids for valentines day and this looks perfect. I think I will use heart shaped cookie cutters to cut out of the slices but then I would like to coat them in some kind of chocolate frosting. Do you have any suggestions which kind of frosting/coating would work best? Thanks so much and PS I just love your company. You have such a beautiful community of people/bakers that share happiness thru your food. God Bless.

    Thanks for your very kind words – much appreciated! I’d dip or drizzle the hearts with chocolate ganache; give it a chance to set up before storing. Enjoy – PJH

  5. cmtomlins

    Any reason that the tea loaf pan wouldn’t work for this recipe? I’m trying to work on that theory that you mentioned a while back that this size can be a good thing for portion control…. tho so far all experimentation has revealed is that one slice somehow turns into two—–

    I don’t see why the tea loaf pan wouldn’t work! Just be aware of the fact that the baking time will decrease by about 25%. I try to slice -really- thin pieces, that way if I have two or three it is not so horrible.-Jon

  6. cartvl219

    The bread pan currently holds a rising loaf but it will be available later today!

    The hardest part will be deciding if you are going to eat the bread or the cake first!-Jon

  7. KellyH

    I’m wondering if I’d be able to slice this and bake it again to be somewhat biscotti’ish? Any thoughts…?

    My initial thought is no, biscotti tends to be made from a relatively low moisture cookie dough compared to this very moist cake. However, feel free to give it a try! You never know, it could be amazing.-Jon

  8. aoifeofcheminnoir

    PJ, I sent the recipe for this to a friend a bit ago and she emailed me back saying the measurement for the first ingredient is listed but not WHAT the ingredient is. Course, she figured it out right away when she looked at the directions. This was on the printable copy.

    Thanks so much, AJ – the “butter” escaped temporarily! Back where it belongs now… Sorry about that. 🙁 PJH

  9. Nancie

    I’m adding this to my Valentine fondue, if this doesn’t win him over, he’s just not worth it!
    I have a question though, I have some black cocoa and wondering how much I could add to the recipe? Would it change the flavor too much?

    You shouldn’t have to add black cocoa if you are using double dutch baking cocoa (it already contains it). However, if you are using a normal, dutched cocoa then feel free to replace half of the cocoa with the black. It should not change the flavor too much from the original recipe as it already contains some!-Jon

  10. Laurie

    I read this blog last night and then I made this cake. I subbed half of the cocoa powder with black cocoa, and I added a bit more butter because of the black cocoa. It still came out a bit dry. The middle is perfect and the chocolate flavor is so good. How much extra fat do I use when using black cocoa? I give the recipe 5 stars. I feel it was tweaking to the recipe that made it dry. As always thanks for great recipes.

    Laurie, I’m not sure it was the black cocoa making the loaf dry; it sounds like it might have been either over-baked, of flour-heavy? If you don’t weigh your flour when baking, make sure you measure using the “sprinkle and sweep” method. Also, take the bread out while the very center, on top, still looks a bit wet; a toothpick inserted into the center should come out dry, but barely. If you have an instant-read thermometer, go by the interior temps quoted in the blog, OK? Hope you try it again, with better results – PJH

  11. Mari

    I am on a loaf/pound cake kick, and I’m so glad I stumbled upon this. I’m curious about the last portion of the recipe — the bit about slicing and frying. Really? Had never thought of the idea. At what temperature? Any tips?

    Just like grilled cheese, Mari – low and slow is best, so you don’t burn anything. Spread with a bit of butter if you want a crisp crust. Enjoy! PJH

  12. cartvl219

    Jon – I had some of the bread first. Had an important errand to run and the bread was almost cooled when I got back.
    After lunch I made the Chocolate Loaf and it took forever to cool. But when it did, I remembered the cream cheese icing left over from the Mardi Gras King Cupcakes. The tang of the cream cheese and lemon goes quite well with the chocolate. (I slice a piece of the cake and ‘butter’ it with the icing! Decadent!)

    One other issue. When I tried to sign in to leave a comment I got an ‘Error 404’ response. I repeated the log in and again got the error message but when I went back for a third try, it seems the second attempt had worked and the ‘post a comment’ box was there with my screen name listed. This had also happened two days ago when I left the first comment. ????

    First – we’re salivating here at the thought of the delicious chocolate cake (and frosting).
    Second – please call or contact our Customer Service reps for help with the error message you’re getting. We’ll ask questions about your system, browser, ISP, and others that will help us pinpoint the solution. You can contact customer service through LiveChat on our website or by calling 800-827-6836. Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF

  13. Margo

    This looks so delicious! Do you think it would work in a doughnut pan?

    We didn’t test this in the doughnut pan, but would love to have you post your results if you decide to test it in your kitchen. Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF

  14. Kimberly

    I have a friend that makes something very similar; she slices it as thin as can and puts a creamy filling then the second slice making sandwiches; they taste like a Hostess treat!

  15. Alicia

    Would this recipe work with shortening or vegan butter in place of the butter? it sounds SO good but im nursing a 6 week old with a milk protein allergy and I’ve cut out ALL dairy.

    You’ll want to choose the vegan butter in place of the butter for the silky smooth texture and buttery flavor. Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF

  16. Esha13

    Could I make this with some sort of butter substitute like crisco or vegan butter? Would it still work? This looks SO good but I’m nursing a 6 week old with a milk protein allergy and Ive cut out all dairy.

    Yes, I think that would work just fine – substitute 1/3 cup vegetable oil for the 1/2 cup butter, and see how you like it. Good luck with your baby! PJH

  17. betmon1

    This looks good, but I’m intrigued by the recipe with the batter all over it. I may have to try both and decide!

    I was using the batter-splattered recipe as a jumping-off point; let us know your preference if you try both! PJH

  18. Jeph

    Yum! As soon as I saw this posting on FB I was gathering ingredients. It’s due to be coming out of the oven in about 10 minutes! Smells great, and the batter was so good.

    I just finished the last crumb of mine today – gave about 3/4 of it to some volunteers doing trail work at our local game preserve, and they gave it the big thumbs up. Enjoy – PJH

  19. AnneInWA

    Thanks for this entry! I have some baking right now. I tripled the recipe, and added chunks of the Merkins chocolate to half of the batter. I am baking the chocolate chunk cakes in the mini loaf pans and am going to drizzle some chocolate ganache atop these heavenly creations!

    Thanks for the inspiration, and my girlfriends who will be receiving some of these loaves will thank you too ( although they may noy enjoy the extra time on the elliptical!).

    I am looking forward to your next creation!


  20. arl18

    This cake looks delicious and I can’t wait to make it. Your idea of grilling slices reminded me that my mother used to toast slices of pound cake – it really intensified the buttery flavor. I was wondering what the difference is between this cake and a chocolate pound cake – the recipe you said you used as a jumping-off point made me wonder.

    No real difference – I just tweaked it a bit for a slightly more close-grained texture, more reliable rise, and a bit more moistness. Used to be pound cakes were made with a pound each of sugar, butter, eggs, and flour. These days, any cake with a very fine grain, baked in a loaf pan, seems to be called pound cake… so I guess this one qualifies, eh? PJH

  21. adawnd69

    Can I use natural cocoa in this recipe? Also, a question I have had for a long time, what is the difference between natural and dutch processed cocoa? I have a friend that can’t have the dutch processed cocoa, so I tend to just have natural on hand so that she can eat the things I serve, but is there a difference? Should I use dutch processed when called for or are they interchangeable? Thanks so much for all your hard work and your help!
    And now, a brief word from Frank, pastry chef extraordinaire. A few years ago he wrote up a great explanation on cocoas, and I’ve been using it ever since. ~ MaryJane

    If you do a lot of baking, it is best to have
    both kinds of cocoa in your pantry. They each offer unique
    characteristics, and aren’t always interchangable.

    It is always best to use the cocoa called for in the recipe rather than
    making a substitution, but if you need to substitute, here is the

    Dutch Cocoa:
    Substitute 3 Tablespoons natural cocoa plus 1/8 teaspoon baking soda.

    Natural Cocoa:
    Substitute 3 Tablespoons Dutch cocoa plus 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar,
    lemon juice, or vinegar.

    So, when do you use each one? For recipe calling for more baking soda
    than baking powder, you use natural cocoa.

    If the recipe has more baking powder than soda, you will want a Dutched
    cocoa due to the different alkali content. Using a natural cocoa will
    give your baked goods a heavy, soapy taste.


  22. Kevin R

    We have grown to love the dark richness of the KAF Black Cocoa in just about every recipe I make that calls for cocoa. To date I have substituted it one for one in recipes that call for Dutch processed. I have adjusted most of my cocoa based recipes with a little Mexican influence, couple of dashes of red pepper adds a nice warmth to the recipes. I will be making this one tomorrow!

  23. AJ

    Why do I have to wait until it is cool to cut it? It smells just wonderful, and I’m not sure I can hold out that long!!!! I really appreciated how easy the cake was to make- it was the first time I’ve ever tried baking by weight rather than volume, and it was so fast! Apparently, I’m a slow measurer. I also have a wonderful deep, rich cocoa that I bake with, so my cake is this lush dark brown. And if the batter that I licked off my spatula after putting the cake in the oven is anything to judge by, this cake won’t last very long!

  24. Melody Lacy

    I have a terrible math problem: I have 12 darling little porcelain loaf pans that hold exactly one cup of water when filled 2/3’s full. I would like to put the chocolate loaf in them… All of them, to hand out as gifts this Christmas. How do I know how many cups of batter this recipe makes so I can then multiply it out for all the little loaves? You see what I mean about the math? I have too many variables missing.

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Yeah, Melody, I see what you mean. I’d suggest simply making the batter, and measuring it in 1-cup increments into your pans. However many it fills – that’s how many you get. Sorry I can’t do better than that; you can get a general approximation by weighing the batter, and assuming it weighs close to 8 ounces/cup, but it’s probably not exactly 8 ounces/cup. You’re right – too many variables! PJH

  25. Lisa

    I saw this last Monday, and bookmarked it with a promise to try it soon. Soon came Friday afternoon and my husband wrapped up a tough week at work, and I wanted to do something a little special for him. This cake was it. It was so delicious on its own, although a little vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce didn’t hurt. 🙂

    I’m making it again this week or next week (it comes together surprisingly quickly!) and we’re going to slice it and freeze it in portions. Then I’m going to send a copy of this to my mother-in-law. I think she’ll like it, and she’ll have fun putting her own spin on it. 🙂

  26. Cookinsista

    Picture this…thick slices of this loaf dunked in lucious vanilla egg custard, fried gently in butter. YES Chocolate French Toast!!! OMG!!
    Topped with lighty sweetened whipped cream and fresh strawberries! I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it, can’t wait to try it!

  27. Cbierl

    I made this wonderful tasting cake today. I substituted KAF self rising flour for the flour, baking powder, and salt. After letting it rest I turned it out. The cake bottom came out separate from the rest and the loaf almost broke in two. It was very light and fully cooked. What did I do wrong?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I am sorry the loaf did not stay in tact! We have not tested this recipe using self rising flour. It may not be a good candidate for self rising flour Cbierl. Using the SRF is introducing more baking powder than what the recipe needs. Elisabeth@KAF

  28. Valarie

    I’m looking to replicate the Trader Joe’s peppermint loaf. If I add chocolate chips and peppermint extract will I need to change the amount of fat?

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      No, no need to change the amount of fat so long as the chips aren’t melted before adding. Good luck! PJH

  29. Peg

    I bake for a couple of local businesses (cafes and a movie theatre) and wanted to try making a mocha pound cake. This looked like an excellent base recipe to start from. I added extra espresso powder, and a half cup of espresso baking chips; I also used 2/3 cup of sour cream instead of the milk. It’s in the oven now! I’ll let you know how it comes out. Also planning to drizzle a coffee glaze on the top…thanks for your terrific website and products! I also use your brownie recipe in a gluten-free version and everyone loves it!

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      No, I’d say it’s more the consistency of pound cake. I can’t see it folding, as sponge cake would. Though you could certainly hollow out the loaf and pack it with ice cream, and then slice and top with syrup and whipped cream… 🙂 PJH

  30. Jenny

    This recipe worked well for me! I had a lovely chocolate loaf and it was so yummy. Followed the recipe to a T 😊

  31. Emma

    I didn’t add the cake enhancer or the espresso powder, but this is hands down the best chocolate loaf cake I could’ve asked for. I’ll have to fight my husband over the last piece!

  32. Margret

    I had a bit of an issue with this cake, I just made it, took it out of the oven, checked it with the toothpick which had a bit of crumb clinging to it, I thought that couldn’t be all that bad so I brought it out, set in on stove, forgot the knifing around the edges until 2 minutes before the time was up of the 10 minutes, cake started to deflate, and when I turned it out, it went even more, anyone else experience this problem??

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Margaret, we’re sorry to hear that you had some trouble with this classic loaf recipe. We do recommend baking until your toothpick comes out clean, so it may simply be that your loaf required a bit longer in the oven to fully set. Other reasons a cake might fall like this include too little flour or too much liquid (even using extra large eggs can even make a difference), using the incorrect or too much leavener, and/or baking in an oven that is running a bit on the cool side. If we can help you troubleshoot more specifically, please give our free Baker’s Hotline a call at 855-371-BAKE. Mollie@KAF

  33. Win

    Made this chocolate loaf cake for the first time but used coconut oil instead of butter and added in semi-sweet chocolate chips (I am a chocoholic!) and it was divine. Truly a great loaf cake recipe, moist and not too sweet. My boyfriend loved it as well. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

  34. Mark

    I made this cake. It rose high and tastes very chocolatey. However, it is more dense and drier than I desire. When I make classic vanilla and almond pound cakes for gatherings I always follow recipes that use 1lb of room temperature butter. I do not like pound cake recipes that call for 2 sticks of butter. Layered cakes are a totally different subject because and do not require as much butter. In addition, I think powdered cocoa is naturally very drying. Since making this cake I have located online several recipes that call for 2 sticks of room temperature butter for a chocolate loaf pound cake, and even slightly less cocoa powder. Some recipes even call for first mixing the cocoa powder with hot water to bring out the flavor and better blend it. I have never tried made a chocolate pound cake before this, and wanted to share my thoughts. I do enjoy baking light & buttery layer cakes using King Arthur Cake Flour when i can do a tasty icing!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Yes, it sure can. Feel free to omit the 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract if you’d like. The flavor won’t be quite as rich or deep, but the final result will still be tasty. Kye@KAF

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