This rosemary chocolate chip loaf cake is by far the most excited I've ever been to share a recipe with y'all. Not because the flavors are spectacularly original, but because this is the first pastry recipe I ever developed completely from scratch in one of my pastry school classes.
With just one sprig of rosemary and almost a cup of mini chocolate chips, this loaf cake is fresh and fragrant with just the right amount of bittersweet chocolate scattered throughout.
I've sent about 6 versions of this to school with Jimmy to leave in the teacher's lounge and it's become such a hit that at least one teacher has asked if I might be selling them ahead of the holidays. So that's how I knew I had nailed the recipe.
And if you really love the combination of rosemary and chocolate, you might also like my rosemary chocolate halva hamantaschen and my rosemary double chocolate ice cream which is so good served up on top of slices of this cake!
If you prefer a straight up chocolate cake, definitely check out my chocolate pound cake recipe. You can always add some minced rosemary to the milk in that recipe for a different take on a rosemary and chocolate cake combo!
The fact that this is my ~first~ original recipe doesn't mean that the other recipes I've shared here aren't original — but when it comes to baked goods, everything is based on ratios that you adapt and change to make them your own. And that's largely what I've done, always giving credit where it's due, of course.
But I've been in pastry school for 10 weeks now and we finally are getting into recipe development. And knowing that there are basic formulas for most baked goods is soooooo not the same as actually being able to use those formulas to create recipes from scratch.
Just like my old-fashioned vanilla pound cake recipe, this cake uses the creaming method for making cakes. Make sure you give the sugar plenty of time to incorporate air into the butter before you move on to adding the eggs.
Notes From Recipe Development
To develop the recipe for this rosemary chocolate chip loaf cake, I had to use math. I know! But it was actually kind of fun. (Don't worry, you don't have to use math.)
Basically, every cake (and brownie, cookie, and bread) recipe you've ever made loosely follows a formula. In high-ratio butter cakes, for example, the eggs and liquid should to be equal to the amount of sugar by weight. And the amount of flour can be less than or equal to the amount of sugar.
Within this set of ratios, each ingredient can be increased or decreased by about 20% to achieve your specific desired results, which is where recipe development comes in. The cake I made in class was my baseline, but then I took the recipe home and started adjusting those ratios.
For example, my original recipe called for 5 whole eggs — that's not a lot of eggs in a pastry school kitchen, but at home that's a lot for me to ask you to use! So I decreased the amount of eggs and increased the amount of buttermilk so that the liquid and egg content stayed equal to the amount of sugar.
I also increased the amount of flour to give the cake a little more structure, and added baking soda to give it a little more rise. This still isn't a high rising cake, it'll be somewhat flat across the top, but the baking soda helps give it just a little extra oomph.
🍽 Mise en place (aka "the setup")
Mise en place is a French culinary term which literally translates to "putting in place."
It basically means: Measure all your ingredients and make sure you have all the right tools and equipment ready to go when you need them before you start working.
This can make a huge difference in a) how enjoyable you find the baking and cooking process and b) the success of your recipe!
Here's the mise en place you'll need for this recipe:
- The oven: Preheated to 350ºF.
- The pan: Grease an 8x4" loaf pan and line the bottom with a rectangle of parchment paper (it's okay to not line the sides with parchment).
- Butter: [ROOM TEMPERATURE] If you don't remember to leave the butter out overnight you can microwave a bowl of water in the microwave for 1 minute, then empty the bowl and place it over the butter on the counter for 5-10 minutes. Properly softened butter should still be firm and hold its shape, but you should be able to easily push a finger into it with little resistance.
- Rosemary: The first step of the recipe has you blanche and shock a sprig of rosemary to soften the leaves. It won't be noticeably soft at first, but trust me — it makes a difference once it bakes. You'll need a small pot filled with about 2 inches of water at a low boil and a bowl of ice water do to this.
- Eggs: [ROOM TEMPERATURE] Place the eggs in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes. Then empty the bowl, wipe it out, and crack the eggs into it so they're easy to pour into the mixer. Pro-tip if you accidentally get egg shell in the bowl: Use another piece of egg shell to scoop it out!
- Flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda: These can all go in the same bowl together, ideally sifted, but it's okay if not — just try to smash any lumps in the baking powder or soda.
- Buttermilk: [ROOM TEMPERATURE] Let it sit out for a few minutes, or microwave it in 5-7 second bursts, stirring between each. You don't want it to be warm. You just don't want it to be cold.
- Mini chocolate chips: Toss these with 1-2 tablespoon of flour before adding to the batter. The flour prevents them from sinking to the bottom of the loaf while it bakes.
Practical Tips & Recipe Notes
- If you ignore the mise en place notes below and proceed without your ingredients at room temperature, they won't incorporate as nicely. It really is worth the few extra minutes to bring the eggs and buttermilk to room temp.
- Here are some buttermilk substitutes. They're not as good as using real buttermilk, but are definitely better than using regular milk as a substitute. Buttermilk is acidic and is necessary to activate the baking soda. Without the acidity, the baking soda has nowhere to go and will just hang around making your cake taste soapy and gross.
- In pastry school we use ounces/pounds instead of my usual grams/kilograms and definitely instead of using the volume measurements (cups) that many people are used to. This recipe was originally written using ounces/pounds and then converted to grams (because that's standard on my blog) and then converted to cups just to give you estimates. As always, measuring by weight with a kitchen scale will give you the best results. I include cup measurements just to give you a sense of how much you'll need so you aren't using a teaspoon to measure 240 grams of flour.
- My favorite loaf pans are by USA pan and I like them because they have sharp corners which make a really nice looking loaf. I baked this in an 8½" x 4½" 1 lb. loaf pan.
Rosemary Chocolate Chip Loaf Cake
- 1 lb loaf pan (8x4")
- Electric mixer
- 265 grams sugar
- 227 grams unsalted butter
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 3 large eggs (room temp)
- 57 grams buttermilk
- 57 grams full fat sour cream
- 227 grams flour (2 cups)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon diamond crystal kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 113 grams mini chocolate chips (tossed with 1 tablespoon flour to coat)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom and sides of an 8x4" loaf pan and line the bottom with a rectangle of parchment paper. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl and set aside. Bring eggs to room temperature and whisk together room temperature buttermilk and sour cream. Finely mince rosemary.
- Cream butter, sugar, and minced rosemary together in the bowl of a stand mixer until light, pale, and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times throughout this process. It may take a few minutes, don't rush it!
- Add eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each one to ensure they're fully incorporated. When all three eggs have been added, beat for an additional minute to emulsify until smooth and pale.
- Add about half of the flour mixture to the mixer and beat on low speed to incorporate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Slowly drizzle in buttermilk and sour cream with the mixer running on low. Scrape down the bowl and add the remaining flour mixture. Once everything has been added, mix on medium speed just until combined and a few streaks of flour remain in the bowl.
- Toss mini chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon of flour, then stir them into the batter until evenly distributed.
- Transfer batter to prepared pan. Top with 1 tablespoon sugar, tilting and rotating the pan so the sugar evenly coats the surface of the batter.
- Bake for 60-65 minutes. When a knife inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs clinging to it, it's done.
- Remove from the oven. Run a knife around the edges, then let cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before turning it out onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing.