When I came across this recipe in David Lebovitz's book, The Sweet Life in Paris, I was immediately intrigued. The ingredient list was unusual, calling for cocoa, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and fennel seed; both honey and sugar; and four eggs (two whole plus two yolks).
I wanted to make the bread but something didn't seem right. Why was it called a bread and not a cake? Chocolate bread sounded...weird, but not entirely off-putting. I decided to make it.
It's a simple recipe, although it does have a few more steps than some of the other quick breads and cakes I like to make. There's lining the pan with parchment paper, which requires tracing and cutting, whipping the eggs with the honey, melting the chocolate with the butter, lots of gentle folding, and sifting the dry ingredients. For some reason, I have an aversion to sifting. Don't ask me why. I just bare my teeth a tiny bit, like a little wolf, when I see the words, sift together.
This is what it looked like before I turned it out. You'll notice I got a little messy when pouring the batter in. I call it homespun. I've noticed that if you call things homespun or rustic, you can get away with being sloppy.
What did it taste like? you're wondering.
It's not super sweet, which is maybe why it's called a bread. But it looks and acts like a cake and would be good with whipped cream or ice cream. Then, to confuse matters, it's more dense than cakey, calling to mind a brownie that got kidnapped and sold to the spice trade.
Friends, this is a strange recipe. I like it, but I don't. It has a deep chocolate flavor, which I enjoy, and the spices provide a complex background. They are not subtle, and I like that; there's no doubt they play nearly as prominent a role as the chocolate itself, which comes in two forms, melted semisweet and unsweetened cocoa powder. This cake would be good for those who like their desserts to be thought-provoking.
Simpletons like me, though, we like chocolate cake to taste like chocolate cake--or sometimes like rootbeer cake. Also, I like frosting on cakes. Cakes without frosting are sad. It's not the Great Depression, people. We can afford to make frosting now. No wars are being won by serving naked, homely cakes.
Another weird thing is that after the cake is cooled you're supposed to wrap it up and let it sit for 24 hours. What? Who lives in a household where things like this happen? In my house, things are baked, cooled for maybe five minutes, then eaten with abandon, fingers and mouths be damned (and burned).
I wish I had liked it better. I had high hopes, sort of. But those are the breaks. I'm not typing out the recipe, either. Guess I'm feeling a bit peckish this week. But if you email me, I'll scan it and send it to you.
And that's all I have to say about the chocolate spice bread.