Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Starbucks Chocolate Cinnamon Bread

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As a non-drinker of coffee, you may think it is strange that I am a huge fan of Starbucks.  It is not their fancy hot or cold drinks that I enjoy but rather their sandwiches and pastries.  One of my favorite treats, the Chocolate Cinnamon Bread, is no longer available.  It was only a holiday item but for the past couple years, our Starbucks has not carried it so I think it has been permanently retired.  Because I was now unable to buy it, I had to find a way to make Chocolate Cinnamon Bread myself.

This particular recipe was one of the easiest I have done because Starbucks actually posted their recipe on their website!  You can find it here: Starbucks Chocolate Cinnamon Bread.  Awesome, right?  If you enjoy their bread as-is, click on the link and read no further.

While I was grateful that Starbucks had given me the recipe for my favorite holiday indulgence, I like a challenge and copying and pasting the recipe is just too easy.  I took this as an opportunity to tailor their recipe for my particular taste.  Even though I loved their version, the crunchy sugar coating has a sharp, distinct clove flavor I didn't care for.  The bread was a little on the dense and crumbly side and I prefer a light, moist and chewier crumb like cake, but not quite as sweet.

Using their recipe, I made a few different batches with slight adjustments to each recipe.  The result is a moister, more intensely flavored bread with a milder sugar dusting and lighter texture.

Chocolate Cinnamon Bread

Bread

  • 1 C vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 C granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 C Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 T ground cinnamon
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t baking soda
  • 1/2 C buttermilk
  • 1 T butter (for greasing the pans)

Coating

  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 t ginger

Equipment

  • 3 bowls (2 large, 1 small)
  • spatula
  • spoon
  • stand or hand mixer
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • 3 loaf pans OR cupcake/muffin pans
  • parchment paper (optional – but highly recommended)


Prior to assembling the ingredients, prepare the pans for baking.  For most recipes I suggest using parchment paper but in the case of this one I consider it a necessity for both convenience as well as your sanity.  The sugar & spice coating on the outside of the bread will caramelize and make it difficult to remove, even from a non-stick pan.  If you line with parchment paper there is less fussing and less mess.

Cut the paper to fit the pan; I only cover the bottom and sides with a little sticking out on both sides (after baking I simply loosen the ends with a plastic butter knife and lift the paper and bread out).  Rub the pan with butter before placing the parchment inside it to make it stick, then rub butter on the paper.  Mix together the sugar and spices for the coating in a small bowl and sprinkle a couple tablespoons into each pan.  Shake the pans around to spread the ingredients around the sides.  Be sure to shake the pans OVER the sink – you will hate yourself if you do not.  Pour any loose sugar back into the bowl and save it for sprinkling over the top.

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In one large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Set aside.

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Mix the oil, eggs, sugar and vanilla in another bowl.  Blend together on a high speed for five minutes, scraping down the sides occasionally.

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Alternate adding half of the dry ingredients and half the buttermilk to the liquid, mixing for one to two minutes in between and scraping down the sides to ensure everything is properly combined.

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Pour the batter into the lined pans or muffin cups.  This recipe will yield two loaves or two dozen muffins; you can make all of one or mix and match.  The muffins do create a higher sugar & spice crust ratio so I am partial to those.

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Sprinkle the remainder of the sugar and spice mixture onto the top of the bread and/or muffins.  It should be just enough to coat; whatever is touching the batter will stick and caramelize but any excess will fall off anyway.  Tap the pans on the counter to release any air in the batter – and to distribute the sugar dusting evenly.

Bake the bread for 50-60 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of your pans.  Rotate the pans every 20 minutes to ensure even baking.  The muffins should take only 15-20 minutes.  If you are unsure about the times, test for doneness by poking a toothpick into the center; if it comes away with batter on it, the bread needs more time.

Wait until the bread is cool before removing from pan and cutting; it is too soft and dense when warm and will fall apart.

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