Pecan-Chocolate-Espresso Coffee Cake Baking Recipe (2024)

What’s old is new again – and since I’m in love with everything retro and vintage I am very happy about that. In the past couple of years there has been a wave of dessert and baking books with a focus on good ole, all American, baked goods. I think I probably own every one of them. When given a choice of sweets to eat or bake my preference will always be pie, cake, cookies, brownies or bars. My taste for desserts certainly stretches beyond these things but this is where my sweet tooth finds the most comfort.
A few weeks back, one of my closest friends moved away from our neighborhood. We met when our daughters were in third grade together. Over the years we have been there for each other through all the expected highs and lows of life – the struggles, milestones, and triumphs of our children, health scares, the fallout from a failed economy, and sadly, we have both lost a parent. So, when Stacy told me she was moving away – far away – I was pretty much devastated. I recognize that we are fortunate to live in a time when technology is such that at a touch of a button we can be face to face sharing the latest news and updates on our lives, but that’s just not the same as having her here, around the corner, for celebrations, dinners together, and those hugs that say “everything is going to be okay”.

It was only days after Stacy arrived in her new home in North Carolina (more about that later) that she sent an email telling me to watch the attached video. It was a video announcing the release of The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl and Griffith Day. The authors/bakery owners Cheryl and Griffith Day’s book celebrates their Savannah, Georgia bakery’s 10 anniversary. Even before looking inside this book I knew I was going to want it. Immediately after watching the video I ordered it and waited patiently for its arrival.

What a CHARMING book! It has that sweet simplicity that I expect to find in this type of book. The photography is beautifully enticing and the recipes straight-forward and inviting. Cheryl and Griffith have added their own personal twist to some of the more traditional favorites without veering too far off course. If looks could tell the whole story then a knew I had a winner on my hands. However, as we all can agree, the real test of a book is in the success of its recipes.

As much as I wanted to jump right in and immediately make something from the book, at the time it landed in my mailbox I was in the throes of getting my blog launched which meant very little time for much else. Yesterday, while pondering a delicious treat I could bake for the blog and also enjoy with my morning coffee, I remembered mentally dog-earring this recipe with a note to make as soon as time allowed. If the success of an entire book can be measured by only one recipe, then I am thrilled to announce this book successful! This recipe hit all the high notes. It was quick and easy to prepare, had a tender and moist crumb, and a balanced topping to cake ratio. Although certainly not necessary, the next time I make this – and there will definitely be a next time – I will add a bit of cinnamon into the crumb topping. (What can I say, bakers just can’t leave “well enough” alone.)

As the days go by I miss Stacy more and more. Enough time has passed and it’s obvious she isn’t just away on a business trip or vacation. Our friendship has now morphed into a long distance relationship with calls, emails and texts our only avenues to staying current with one another. Fortunately, our friendship lasted long enough and grew deep enough that the distance between us is only in the miles. I am grateful for the closeness we continue to share even though we now live on opposite coasts. Did a mention the silver lining in all of this? Stacy now lives in North Carolina – a place I have been dying to visit for years. With a place to stay and my own personal tour guide – it’s not all bad – now is it!

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted*
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 teaspoons espresso powder**
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with vegetable oil spray and line the bottom with parchment.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer), mix together the flour, both sugars, the butter and the salt until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

To make the crumb topping, transfer 3/4 cup of the mixture to a small bowl and stir in the toasted pecans, chocolate, and espresso. Set aside.

Sprinkle the baking soda into the remaining butter-sugar mixture, add the buttermilk, egg, vanilla, and almond extract, and mix just until combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan, spreading it evenly. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the batter.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack and allow to cool in the pan.

* To toast pecans, place on a baking sheet and bake in a 350˚F oven for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring once half way through.
** If you find yourself without espresso powder, replace it with 1 teaspoon cinnamon for an equally delicious cake.

Source: Adapted from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook

Pecan-Chocolate-Espresso Coffee Cake Baking Recipe (2024)


What kind of espresso powder to use for baking? ›

King Arthur Espresso Powder for Baking

This espresso powder for baking is not just an ingredient; it's a magician that makes your chocolate sing!

How much espresso powder to add to chocolate cake mix? ›

Espresso powder can be added to just about any chocolate cake recipe for an intensified chocolate flavor. Just know that since it's super concentrated, a little goes a long way. Your cake will only need about a ½–1½ teaspoons, depending on your preferences.

How much espresso powder to add? ›

A little goes a long way.

½ teaspoon – 2 teaspoons is perfect to complement chocolate flavor. Add more than 2 teaspoons for a richer mocha-style coffee flavor.

Can I use coffee instead of water in a chocolate cake mix? ›

You can substitute brewed coffee for some of the water in recipes like this Chocolate Blackout Cake. To avoid overpowering the other flavors in the recipe, substitute no more than half of the water with coffee.

Is Espresso Powder the same as Coffee Powder? ›

While they might look similar, as outlined in this article, they are made and used very differently! Espresso powder has a more robust, smoother taste and is often used in baking, while instant coffee can be slightly bitter or sour, and is often used as a quick pick-me-up.

Can I use coffee powder instead of espresso powder in baking? ›

Instant coffee powder: Using an equal amount of instant coffee powder ($7, Walmart) or granules will work fine in your recipes. Keep in mind: Espresso powder is more concentrated than coffee powder, so using the latter as an espresso powder substitute won't impart the same depth of flavor.

Why add espresso powder to chocolate cake? ›

Amp up the Chocolate Flavor

Use instant espresso powder as a secret flavor booster in applications that don't call for coffee. "Espresso has the same bold, bittersweet flavor as chocolate," says Szewczyk. "So adding it to recipes that are chocolate-forward will punctuate the flavor of the cocoa and kick it up a notch."

Does espresso powder make cake taste like coffee? ›

It's much more concentrated than instant coffee, which means you only need a teaspoon or so in your chocolate recipe to do the trick. Don't let the name fool you; in small amounts, espresso powder doesn't add any coffee flavor to your baked goods. It merely makes chocolate tastes more intense and rich.

How much espresso powder for 1 cup? ›

Adding a teaspoon of espresso powder to one cup of hot water is the perfect ratio for making instant espresso. The dark and chocolaty flavor of espresso powder is a smooth combination and the perfect way to start a day.

How much coffee powder should I add? ›

For every 200 ml cup of coffee you need about one full tablespoon of coffee powder. If you want to make a whole litre of filter coffee at once, we recommend using seven tablespoons of ground coffee.

How much espresso do I use? ›

For a single shot: Use 6–8 grams (1.5-2 tsp) of ground beans per 1–1.5 fluid ounce (2-3 Tbsp). For a double shot: Use 15 grams (3.5 tsp)of ground beans per 2 fluid ounce (4 Tbsp).

What does espresso powder do in baking? ›

"Espresso powder brings out and enhances the flavor of chocolate desserts without adding a coffee flavor. It's true!" Of course, if you use more espresso powder, your chocolate desserts will start veering into MOCHA TERRITORY. These recipes for Mocha Toffee Brownies and Chocolate Coffee Cheesecake come to mind.

What does adding milk instead of water do to cake? ›

Milk's fat and protein add tenderness, structure, and flavor to a cake — all great attributes you want in your baking!

What happens if I use milk instead of water in a cake? ›

Use milk instead of water

Most box cake recipes will tell you to add water to the mix. Instead, try adding milk using the same proportions. This will make the cake richer and creamier because it ups the fat content. You can even use buttermilk here for a pleasant tang.

Does milk instead of water make cake moist? ›

One common ingredient swap that is known to help make cakes remarkably moist is using milk instead of water. Try switching out any water in your recipe for full-fat milk or buttermilk for a moist, decadent texture. Another ingredient that can enhance the moisture of your cake is mayonnaise.

Do you use instant espresso powder for baking? ›

Probably it's obvious that espresso powder comes in handy when baking coffee or mocha-flavored desserts. I love it in these Frosted Hazelnut Cappuccino Bars and Cappuccino Cut-Out Cookies. Where espresso powder quietly shines is in chocolate desserts.

Can I use ground espresso instead of espresso powder? ›

If you're in a pinch, it's a good choice for replacing espresso powder. Unlike the fine texture of espresso powder, espresso grounds are much coarser. They also happen to be much stronger than espresso powder. To use them as a substitute, try crushing them in a spice grinder and only use a small amount.

What to use when a recipe calls for espresso powder? ›

Instant coffee is one of the best bets for replacing espresso powder in chocolate desserts or spice rubs. The two have a lot of similarities, but unlike espresso powder, instant coffee is less concentrated and therefore will add less richness to your recipe.

Can I make my own espresso powder for baking? ›

Keep reading to see how it is done in four easy steps.
  1. Preheat your oven for a few minutes.
  2. Then spread the espresso beans on a baking sheet in a single layer. ...
  3. Remove the beans from the oven and grind the beans in batches using the coffee grinder until the grounds are fine. ...
  4. Pour the grind beans into an airtight jar.

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