Hazelnuts & chocolate. They just go together, like toast & butter or pizza & garlic bread (can you tell it’s nearly lunchtime and I’m starving?) The inspiration for this recipe came from the large packet of hazelnuts sitting forlornly in my baking stash. Bought on a whim – something that happens a lot in my world, they sat there making me feel guilty every time I reached for a bag of flour.
The fusion of hazelnuts and chocolate is pretty well documented – Nutella anyone? but for this quick bread recipe I wanted something less in your face sweet. Something which would work equally well for a lazy weekend breakfast with greek yogurt and a sweet cherry compote, or warmed and served with a scoop (or two!) of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce as an indulgent dessert. My current preference for this bread is thickly sliced, generously buttered and served with a steaming hot mug of coffee for a mid-afternoon break – bliss!
The recipe begins with a mixture of half plain (all purpose) flour and half plain wholemeal flour. As I’m actively working to increase my intake of whole foods, I’ve been experimenting with new-to-me flours, sweeteners etc. & I’ve been really pleased with the results so far. I wouldn’t suggest any more than half the amount in wholemeal flour though, the bread can become a little too heavy otherwise.
I’ve added raw cacao powder to the flour for a deep rich chocolate flavour – you can substitute cocoa powder if you prefer, you just may need to add extra as cacao powder is stronger. Adding a little espresso powder also helps to enhance the chocolate taste, but don’t worry, you can’t taste the coffee!
I’ve used bicarb (baking soda) as the raising agent, as there is plenty of acidic buttermilk in the recipe to activate it. The buttermilk adds moisture to the bread, along with the oil, egg and molasses sugar. If you can get hold of molasses sugar it’s well worth it (this is the brand I use, it’s in most UK supermarkets). It has the most amazingly rich, caramel like taste – I can’t stop myself from taking a pinch from the jar every time it’s opened! If you can’t find molasses sugar where you are, I’d recommend using the darkest soft brown sugar you can.
To finish off, a generous amount of chopped hazelnuts gets added to the mixture, perfectly combining with the molten dark chocolate chips to make sure that each slice has plenty of texture. If you wanted to, an extra scattering of chocolate chips on top would never be a mistake!
A tip I picked up from one of my go-to recipe blogs for baking advice (sallysbakingaddiction.com) is to make sure the ingredients are at room temperature before you begin. Although it’s a pain to remember to take things out early to warm up, it is worth it – room temperature ingredients will mix together more evenly, making for a lighter, airier more evenly baked end result.
Because I’ve kept the sugar and oil in this recipe as low as possible, you will need to keep an eye on the loaf to make sure it doesn’t dry out. I’ve found that covering the bread with foil half way through the baking time works well.
It’s taken quite a few attempts to get this recipe ready for posting on the website. Every time I made a loaf of this quick bread, loaded with chocolate chips and chunks of hazelnut, by the time I was ready to photograph it there was never enough left to do so, I hope you enjoy it!
- 1 cup (125g) plain (all purpose) flour
- 1 cup (125g) plain wholemeal flour
- 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder *
- ¼ cup (45g) dark (70%) chocolate chips
- ⅓ cup (45g) hazelnuts, chopped
- 1 large egg, at room temperature **
- ¼ cup (50g) molasses sugar
- 2 and ½ tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 and ¼ cup (300ml) buttermilk, room temperature **
- 3 tablespoons olive oil (vegetable oil or melted coconut oil can also be used)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4 (350F degrees). Grease a 9x5 inch loaf tin with non-stick spray and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the two flours, cacao powder, bicarb, salt and espresso powder until evenly mixed. Stir in the chocolate chips and chopped hazelnuts.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg and the two sugars until combined. Whisk in the buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until there are no pockets of flour left. I prefer to use a silicone spatula to scrape around the bowl and gently fold the ingredients together without over-mixing them.
- Pour the batter (it should be fairly thick and almost puffy looking) into the prepared loaf tin. Bake for 25 minutes then cover with foil and continue baking for another 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the bread comes out cleanly.
- Cool completely in the tin on a wire rack before slicing.
- The bread freezes well - up to 2 months. I usually cut into slices before freezing, so I can defrost a slice (or two!) at a time. Otherwise keep at room temperature in an airtight container for 3 - 5 days.
** It's best to work with ingredients that are at a similar temperature when baking, it helps everything mix together more evenly.
Recipe inspired by Quick Breads by Sally’s Baking Addiction.