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. 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

  1. 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. Gail

      Thanks for this info, Mark. My loaf turned out dry (I was careful with flour measurement) but otherwise looked and tasted good. I may have left the loaf in the oven a couple minutes over, based on KAF recommendation to remove when top looks a little damp and testing w/ toothpick, but I believe that the deeper problem lies with the cocoa’s natural dryness, as you say, and I’m not crazy about adding another stick of butter. (Perhaps instead of another whole stick of butter, I add vegan butter. I don’t know. Whenever I use vegan butter in larger quantities in my bakes, the product always tastes a bit off to me). Hmmmm…

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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!

  5. Jenny

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

    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

  6. 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!

  7. 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

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