Artisanal bakeries are the current kings of the gourmet food scene, even in bread-phobic Los Angeles where the rich and famous famously watch out for their waistlines. And there’s no L.A. baker more acclaimed than Zoe Nathan, who opened Huckleberry Café and Bakery five years ago with her restaurateur husband Josh Loeb, in celebrity-central Santa Monica. Every day since, their display case has been piled high with fresh organic breads, rustic pastries, savory tarts and oodles of cookies to tempt crowds who indulge in Nathan’s extraordinary sweet treats after coming in for a healthy Romanesco Frittata for breakfast or tender brisket hash and roast chicken for lunch.
Wholesome foodie fans include regulars Jennifer Garner, Reese Witherspoon, Taylor Swift, and Gwyeth Paltrow who says Nathan’s “rustic, delicious food (is) a staple in my house.” Elijah Wood singles out her “ridiculously delicious” salted caramel squares, and Bear Grylls raves that Huckleberry is his “favorite restaurant in the world.” We tend to believe him since, coincidentally, Bear named his son Huckleberry.
After receiving such applause, it was inevitable that L.A.’s celebrity baker become an author with her first cookbook: “Huckleberry: Stories, Secrets, and Recipes from Our Kitchen” (Chronicle Books). With 288 pages of recipes and nearly 150 photos by Matt Armendariz, the book finally shares Huckleberry’s recipes, re-proportioned for home bakers. “Giving something you made to someone you love is just about the best feeling in the world,” says Nathan.
In that spirit, Zoe Nathan and Chronicle Books gave us permission to share her rich Chocolate Chocolate Teacake recipe with Pursuitist readers. Resistance is futile.
CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE TEACAKE
Makes one 9-by-5-inch loaf.
¾ cup pastry flour
6 tbsp. all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. baking soda
½ cup strong brewed coffee, cooled
½ cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups coarsely chopped dark chocolate, 60 to 70% cacao
½ cup + 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
1 cup + 2 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. kosher salt
Powdered sugar for topping (optional)
1. Position a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-5-in loaf pan.
2. Sift together the pastry flour, all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
3. Combine the coffee, buttermilk, and vanilla. Set aside. Melt ¾ cup of the chocolate gently over a double boiler or in a small bowl set over a small saucepan of simmering water. Remove the pan from the heat, but leave the chocolate over the double boiler to keep warm while you mix the cake.
4. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Incorporate the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl well. Pause mixing and add the flour mixture. Mix just until incorporated. With the mixer on low speed, pour in the coffee mixture. Fold in both the melted and chopped chocolate.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Do not overbake! Allow to cool completely.
6. Place a flat plate on top of the cake and pan. Carefully invert the cake onto the plate by flipping both upside down. Then lift the pan off the cake. Rest your serving plate on the bottom of the cake and turn the cake right-side up onto the plate. Once cooled, top with powdered sugar, if desired.
This keeps beautifully, tightly wrapped, at room temperature, for up to 4 days.