Chocolate Loaf Cake

Jordan: Our criteria for picking a cake this week: 1) Includes buttermilk, because I still have a bottle in my fridge.

Kitra: 2) Uses two or fewer eggs, because I haven’t been to the store in over a month and that’s all I have now.

3) Not particularly complicated or dish-heavy, because we’re both lazy.

4) Something in a loaf pan, that seems like I could freeze slices of because I live alone and absolutely cannot eat another entire cake this week.

Enter: Smitten Kitchen’s everyday chocolate cake.

I’ve made this before, but like eight years ago and I couldn’t tell you anything about it except that it’s chocolate and a loaf cake. And both of those sounded like pluses.

I shouldn’t be the one to sell anyone on this, because I’m not a huge fan of chocolate cake. But I gave a slice to my partner and his first response was, “This is really moist! And much more chocolatey than I would have expected from something you made.”

And as someone who does like chocolate cake, I’ll tell you that this is a delightful afternoon/anytime cake. If you want chocolate cake, but are tired of washing forks and need something you can just cut a slice of and eat while you go about your day, this is it. It’s perfect for this era of our lives, where the idea of “dessert” no longer exists and all food is just for whenever you want it.

I was going to disagree with Kitra but then I remembered that I ate chips and salsa at 10:15pm last week, so.

I made fresh pasta for lunch yesterday, and dinner was a bowl of frozen broccoli that I ate with my fingers. Time, meals, and utensils are dead to me at this point. Cookie dough is lunch.

Point is: This is a good anytime cake. I had mine with a dollop of creme fraiche, and it would be just as good with greek yogurt for a vaguely kinda healthy breakfast.

Chocolate cake with yogurt on it: The breakfast of influencers and body builders everywhere, probably I guess.

While nothing with a 2:1 flour-to-cocoa ratio will ever be my favorite cake, this is a pretty good one. I will continue to eat it! If for some reason I needed to make a rich chocolate cake in the future, this would be a contender. It also has a nice thin, crispy crust on top, which both of us loved.

In summary: good cake, eat it whenever, eat it with your hands, contemplate whether time matters.

Chocolate Loaf Cake

Adapted just barely from Smitten Kitchen


The original recipe calls for Dutch-processed cocoa powder; if you don’t have that (we never do), it may sink a bit in the center but will still taste great. Feel free to use whatever size loaf pan you have; an 8×4 or 9×5 will both work here. Finally, Jordan’s came out fine with gluten-free flour, though it was a bit denser than it might otherwise have been. (She also didn’t sift anything, so that may have contributed to it.)


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (190 grams) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) flour
  • 3/4 cup (60 grams) cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


Preheat your oven to 325°. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray, or just grease and flour the pan thoroughly.

With a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, beat butter and both kinds of sugar on medium until somewhat pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg beat to combine, then add the buttermilk and beat until it’s all mixed in. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, as the butter/sugar mix likes to hide at the bottom. It will look a bit curdled once you add the buttermilk, but this is normal.

Add in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. (Ideally you would sift all of this in, but as long as your cocoa isn’t too lumpy you’ll be fine without.) Stir with a rubber spatula until everything is just combined.

Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake 60-70 minutes, until the top is set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan at least 15 minutes before turning out and cooling the rest of the way on a rack. Serve with powdered sugar, creme fraiche, very lightly sweetened whipped cream, or nothing at all.

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