Baking with Coffee

Coffee word made by coffee beans with chocolate , pastry and cup of coffee

What did you expect when you read that title? Originally, I was going to write exclusively about using coffee–brewed or otherwise–in baking recipes. I’ve covered that a bit in previous blogs, however, and didn’t just want to end up repeating myself. I want to talk about the merits of coffee in baking recipes and make some recommendations for enticing recipes you could try. I also want to talk about the types of baked goods that pair well with coffee, if, for example, you’re a small business owner looking to feature sweet treats with your specially sourced, roasted locally or on-site coffee.

Combining coffee and sweets seems to have been around since we started consuming coffee. I’ve read that boiling coffee in water originally came from a need to tone down the bitterness in the coffee. It seems likely that pairing the brown, bitter brew with sugary snacks was a manifestation of the same need. It’s why we add in milk and sugar, it’s why lattes and mochas are a thing; we want the caffeine, but the caffeine is hard to palate. Dunkin Donuts’ entire brand is built on the idea of cutting that natural coffee flavor by sopping it up with something sugary.

The reason these businesses may continue to flourish could be traced to your body’s need for sugar after a long night of not eating (you know, when you’re asleep) when your blood sugar levels plummet. Even the heartiest breakfast sometimes just won’t do the trick, and a black coffee will give you some energy, but it won’t give your body that sugar it’s jonesing for. We know that too much sugar is no bueno, especially early in the morning when we have an entire work day ahead of us; but, sugar in the brain does help to enhance memory and learning. When combined with that caffeine fix, coffee and pastries may, at least temporarily, give you that performance boost you need right at the beginning of the day.

Coffee is also associated with baked goods, or dessert in general, in many regions of the world where espresso is a post-meal must to kick-start digestion and/or keep you alert after pounding the carbs (or before hitting even more carbs). If you’ve been to any candle-lit restaurant, you know that coffee and dessert go hand in hand for a lot of people. Even if it’s just for the separate reasons that dessert traditionally follows dinner and coffee happens to, too; we associate baked goods and sweet treats with coffee both for breakfast, at the mid-hump coffee break, and after dinner.

It is this flavor combo, the mixing of sweet and the earthy, smokey, bitter, that explains why coffee is sometimes called for in baking recipes. Coffee is especially popular in chocolate recipes, for the same reason that mocha lattes are especially popular. I often find that baked goods made with coffee, either instant powder or liquid brewed, are a great option for those who are looking for a dessert that’s not too sweet or one that has a certain depth of flavor (beyond just sugar or just chocolate). Coffee complicates the flavor profile of a dessert, bringing in that smoky, earthiness or bitterness that goes so well with sweet, chocolatey or even citrusy flavors. A bigger depth of flavor means someone can generally eat more than if every bite tastes essentially the same, and it’s all one note!

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19 Comments

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  1. Ha ha, yes – I thought this article was going to be about baking with coffee (recipes would be a good idea!). However, this was quite an interesting take on caffeine and baking.

    I know in my family, it’s tradition to have dessert after a meal, and coffee to accompany. If we allowed ourselves, I know we would love to have dessert even for breakfast! (drooling while the image of danishes dance through my brain).

    Sometimes I’ll head to my local coffee shop, and if I’m feeling really naughty, I’ll order a chocolate pastry with my cuppa! 🙂

  2. I liked this article a lot. As a person who enjoys desserts (and coffee) quite a bit, I can definitely agree that combining the two brings a whole different flavor depth to the table. One of my favorite breakfast items is coffee cake actually. It gives you that sugar your body is craving, as well as a little energy boost. Not to mention, it tastes delightful. 🙂

  3. I once had a lemon meringue that was to be eaten with coffee jelly for dessert. It was heavenly. There’s a certain complexity the coffee brings out in the dish. Somehow the coffee isn’t too bitter, and the meringue isn’t just sweet. It becomes a whole new experience and I’d love to try it again.

  4. I guess that explain why, even though I usually eat a pretty healthy breakfast, I always crave something sweet and sugary with my coffee. Something like a granola bar or a small cookie. I can never seem to drink coffee just by itself.

  5. Desserts I prefer pairing either hot or cold coffee is a choco caramel cake ( isnt that too sweet?) 😀 and little oscar cake ( this cake isnt too sweet perfect with any coffee). These are the pastries that are match made in heaven for me.

  6. I must admit that I am a big fan of coffee pastries. Recently I made a cappuccino Kuglof and it was delicious, my family could not get enough of it…haha 😀 I believe that you can never go wrong with chocolate and coffee, especially if you mix those two together. (*-*)//

      • Sure, why not..I can share it here. 😀 My mother gave it to me, she loves to cook. I guess that runs in our family. 😀 It`s really simple.

        Ingredients:

        1. 3 eggs
        2. 12 t/spoons of yogurt or 20-24 t/sp of milk
        3. 12 t/sp of sugar
        4. 12 t/spoons of oil
        5. 16-18 t/spoons of flour
        6. baking powder
        I bake at 180° for about 30 minutes, although it depends, so you should check once in a while If it`s done. 😀

        First, you mix your wet ingredients, then all the dry once and put them all in one bowl. After that you can add whatever comes to your mind, it is like `tabula rasa`. I usually divide my dough in two and in the first one I add some cocoa, and you get one layer of vanilla and one layer of chocolate. I also add some rum aroma or vanilla, some dried fruit or some instant coffee, like cappuccino. You can get really creative with this recipe. You can use it for cupcakes and add some color and get rainbow cupcakes. I tried them, believe me, they are kind of cool. 😀

        Cappuccino Kuglof

          • Please let me know how it turned out in the end..:D If you have some easy and interresting recipes please share, I love to cook. I watch 24kitchen almost every day and I love to watch Rudolf`s Bakery, he makes some pretty interesting and tasty deserts. 😀

  7. Ohhhh, coffee and baked sweets tingle my senses.
    I dont know if its weird or not, but whenever I drink dark coffee, I always take some baked sweet or something and dip it in. Its like cookies and milk, but for grown-ups (lol).

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