Triple Chocolate Espresso Tea Cake

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I like the idea of tea cake. It says, let’s have lunch at home, wear soft clothes and drink wine on the patio. It says I don’t want to spend one second making buttercream or stacking layers of cake, but I want cake. It also says I love you chocolate…I really do. It is also borderline begging for a glass of wine. Can you hear it? I think she’d like a tall glass of red, thanks. Would you make that a double?

I often say to my kids: nobody is sleeping in an aid camp tonight, so count your lucky stars. I’m half-horrified by this. It’s straight out of Archie Bunker’s mouth, although he might add ‘aint’ to the front of it. I like to think I’m giving my kids some perspective because we’re #luckyAF. However, I realize that in actuality this makes me sound #naiveAF. I get it. I also realize that they’re going to use that same line, in college, to mock me and I’m ok with that. However, for all my efforts to grow sane and grateful kids, these spawns of mine have been a little Something Wicked This Way Comes. Just shy of head spinning and spewing green vomit. I know that’s the Exorcist and I’m mixing metaphors but just go with it. You get the picture. If you have kids, what you’re about to read will make you gloriously happy. If you don’t have kids, it will remind you to take your pill.


Sunday. School carnival fundraiser. I won the pie contest! Yeah!! I’m not eating pie. Damn. Shit. I feel bloated. Hold in stomach. Stand up straight. Finish the Root Beer that Kid 2 shoved into my hand. Remember that I’m trying to eat healthy as I throw the can out. Stand up taller.

Make small talk. Is my bra tight? Why do I want to be in bed right now? It’s midday on a Sunday. Exactly. It’s the day of rest. I should be home in bed. Push the smile back on.

Look at watch. It’s time for Musical Chairs. Kid 1 is brutally mean to Kid 2. Like, really mean. I’m appalled. Musical Chairs turns into a House of Horrors. This isn’t like Kid 1. All fun has ceased. Is Mercury in retrograde? Anger is served with a splash of sadness as we make a path towards the car. Sounds of kids laughing and music playing get quieter. In the car. Silence. No laughing. Start the car and drive away.

Yelling. I never yell. More silence.

At home, kids in rooms. It’s Sunday. My favorite day. Must fix Sunday. Who wants roast chicken and veggies for dinner? In a bowl. With soy sauce. Because I’m obsessed with bowl eating. I’m rebranding dinner. A bowl will make things better. Quinoa bowls, Mexican Bowls, Noodle Bowls… Quick thought about how anti-emotional eating propaganda is hogwash. Haters. A nice meal on Sunday. It’s restorative. Re-balance our blood sugar. Soothe our souls.

Fighting continues. It’s the only Musical Chairs for one whole year. Heavy emphasis on ‘only’ and ‘whole.’ No, I promise you, it’s not. We could play right now if we wanted. More tears. It’s playing on a loop. It just might drive me mad. The bowls aren’t helping. Kids crying. Kids yelling. Fighting. Thinking about a martini. Lean against the kitchen counter and ponder soundproofing, straight jackets and throwing toys in the trash. No electronics for a week!, I yell down the hall. That brings silence. Blissful, Sunday,  silence.

Lectures. I’m saying things like, Speak through your heart. And Write me an apology letter. Give your brother a proper apology. Is anyone listening to me?!? Realize I sound like a person I don’t want to be and put everyone to bed.

We forgot about the chickens. I throw my boots back on and go out to lock up the coop.  Think about how much I like them as I walk through the dark back to the house.

Check on kids. Fast asleep. Demons abated.

Dishes. Counters. Lights.

Sleep. Alarm clock. Had a dream I was a terrorist. Feel cheated. If dreams reflect our exterior world I should have been the prisoner of war or a ranger. Seriously, the bad guy?  Me? Try to go back to sleep and rewrite the dream. Kid 2 says his throat, back, big toe and stomach hurt.  You’re going to school. This. Happens. Every. Weekday. Morning. Have a sneaking suspicion that Sunday has blurred into Monday.

Need espresso. Lots of espresso. It’s a four-shot day. And bowls….must have more bowls. Burrito Bowls, Noodle Bowls, Acai Bowls, Oatmeal Bowls…kids beg for no more meals in bowls. Eat your oatmeal. Secretly sneak flax and chia seeds into their breakfast bowls.  Feel like a smug parent.

Drop Kid 1 and Kid 2 off at school and notice that the wrinkles on my forehead have softened, heart rate dropping. Daydream about a world where parents have summer camp. Is that a thing? Mental note-to-self to research later. More espresso. Back to work. Can’t focus. Dream about pretend parent camp…on the beach…at a Ritz-Carlton…all expenses paid…unlimited room service…I don’t get sunburned…it’s bliss. Emails. Person-formerly-known-as-my-spouse coming to town next week. Kid 2’s birthday coming up. Can I outsource that? Start making lists.

Long work day. Even longer board meeting. I’m talking long. Draining. Exhausting. What other adjectives can we come up with?

Rude people. They’re everywhere. Don’t let them bug you. Don’t let them bug you. Don’t let them bug you. Can’t help it. Bugging me.

Finally home. Review how much I’ve consumed for the day and decide a glass of wine and a piece of chocolate, in bed, can be blissfully squeezed in. Asleep in seconds.

Alarm clock. New day. New project. Smiling. There are kid’s laughing. Bird’s are chirping. Kid 2 gives an unprompted apology to Kid 1. I’m speechless. Nobody forgets the chickens. My bra’s not tight.

I then make tea cake. Two cakes, to be exact. With a stupid amount of chocolate. Because I can. Because my bra’s not tight anymore. And because we’ll need backup.

I hope your Thursday is aces. xx

Before We Get Started:

  • I left one tea cake loaf plain and the other loaf I put tangerine zest in. Feel free to make both all-chocolate or both with tangerine zest. Your call. You get to drive this ship.
  • Make sure to leave about 1 inch of space at the top of the pan. This batter will rise quite a bit when baking. It will likewise exhale a bit when taken out of the oven. Don’t panic or fret. It gets this great, I’m-wise-and-I’ve-spent-my-whole-life-in-the-sun look. Dust with some powdered sugar and move on with your life.
  • When you get this out of the oven, it will appear undone. You don’t want it to feel like a waterbed below the surface…if that’s the case, it needs more time in the oven. You want it to yield to the touch, be a bit underdone, but not jiggle too much.
  • Make sure to let the tea cake cool completely before you take it out of the pan. Patience. I know, it’s hard.
  • This tea cake is perfect book club, group meeting, Sunday brunch cake. Or, if you’re like us, Hump Day Cake. The flavor and texture is five-star…but the look of it says, I know I’m delicious, I have nothing to prove. I’m really talking about myself. But you get the point.

triple chocolate + espresso tea cake | DisplacedHousewife

{ triple chocolate + espresso tea cake }

Makes 2 Tea Cakes


  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 1/2 cake flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s natural unsweetened cocoa)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups of unsalted butter (4 sticks), room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons real vanilla extract
  • 2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons fresh-brewed espresso or strong coffee, cooled
  • 1 1/2 cup chocolate chunks (I used Trader Joes semi-sweet as it offsets the bittersweet chocolate a bit)
  • 3 tablespoons tangerine zest for one loaf (optional)
  • Powdered sugar, to dust on top


  1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Line two 9 1/2 X 4 1/2 loaf tins with parchment paper. This isn’t a perfect science as it’s quite difficult to get the parchment paper to behave and lie flat against the sides of the pan. However, it does make it easy to pull the loaf out when done. If you don’t have parchment or you don’t want to futz with it, either spray with nonstick or butter and flour each pan.
  3. Melt bittersweet chocolate in the microwave for about 1 minute. Take out and stir until all of the chocolate is melted. If your microwave tends to run hot, then cook for half that time and see where your chocolate is at. Set aside to cool.
  4. Mix dry ingredients (cake flour, flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt) together in a separate bowl.
  5. Place the butter and sugars in an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you can also mix in a bowl, the old-fashion way). Blend on medium until light and fluffy and fully incorporated. I like to make sure these guys are blended really well, because you don’t want to turn the speed on high once you’ve but the eggs in there…you’ll end up with batter that will collapse or have too many air holes in it (or both).
  6. Add in the eggs with the mixer on low, making sure to scrape down the sides (and the bottom) of the mixer.
  7. Add in the vanilla, buttermilk and cooled espresso.
  8. Drizzle in the cooled chocolate and blend.
  9. Turn off the machine. Dump your dry ingredients  in with the chocolate mixture and mix on low until just barely incorporated.
  10. Using a spatula, fold in the chocolate chunks.
  11. Pour half of the mixture in one loaf pan, leaving one inch of space at the top of the pan.
  12. (Optional) Throw 2 tablespoons of tangerine zest into the bowl with the remaining batter and pour into the other loaf pan. Save the remaining zest to sprinkle on the finished loaf.
  13. Tap the pans a couple of times on the counter to get rid of any bubbles and gently smooth the tops a bit with your spatula.
  14. Put in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees F and continue cooking for 30 more minutes (for a total of 60 minutes). Check the consistency of the cakes after 50 minutes and don’t drift far from your stove until you pull them out. They will cook quickly towards the end and it’s better to under-bake, than over-bake.
  15. Set the loaf pans on a cooling rack and let cool completely. This will take well over an hour…just a heads up. Sprinkle tea cake with powdered sugar and one with the zest if so desired.
  16. Enjoy sweets!! Yes, I’m talking to you. xx

triple chocolate + espresso tea cake | DisplacedHousewife

{ on my mind }

  • There are some beautiful cookbooks out right now. As I mentioned, I’m bowl obsessed and the cookbook that inspired me is Bowl + Spoon. It’s gorgeous and demands me to eat healthier. I’m kind of succeeding.
  • Another cookbook that I’ve been perusing is the Food52 Genius cookbook. As soon as my eyes landed on Nigella Lawson’s chocolate cake, I knew what I had to do. I wanted my very own chocolate tea cake. I made some changes, because I wanted more structure and I wanted coffee and more vanilla and blah blah blah. You get the point.
  • Ask and you shall receive… So, in my last post I mused on the need for chicken diapers and low and behold, such a thing exists. You can thank my cousin, whom you shall call Bubbie from this point forward. She’s glad she could be of service.
  • I love my kids. Even when they’re Psycho.

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Rebecca xox


  • Courtney L June 18, 2020 at 12:41 PM

    I made this cake recipe and added almond extract, almonds, and dried cherries soaked in a fruity dessert wine. It is really good! Next time I think I will add even more cherries and nuts as the cake seemed to be able to hold the weight OK.

    • Rebecca Firth July 11, 2020 at 2:18 PM

      Hi Courtney!
      Can I just tell you that I’m so happy that you made this cake!!! It’s a bit buried in the back of the blog but I love it soooo much!!!! I have it on my list of recipes to re-photograph and add weights too — thanks for reminding me of it. Love the addition of soaked cherries!!

  • DisplacedHousewife April 24, 2015 at 5:17 AM

    The fighting is b r u t a l. You must send your mom a very nice gift. Stat. I actually finished this post last night but held off hitting publish for fear we sounded like crazy people. Felt much better when I ran into people around town that said it made them laugh. I love love LOVE my kids. But take your pills until you’re ready for days like this!! #thesickpartisnowithinkthewholethingisfunny ;)

  • Jessica | A Happy Food Dance April 24, 2015 at 4:02 AM

    You just made my day sound like a piece of cake – although I can remember driving my mom absolutely nuts with my sister, fighting till we almost kill one another and then friends the next moment. I must remember to send her a crazy good Mother’s Day gift. Oh, and I just chased my pill with red wine – thanks for the reminder ;)