Baking a basic cake uses general ingredients that most people have on hand in their cupboard and fridge. For example, a cake can be baked with flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. This is simple enough.
However, people are always looking at and using variations to change to flavor, moisture, texture, and fluffiness of their cakes. There are many ingredients that you can use, including sour cream.
What Is Sour Cream?
Sour cream is, quite literally, cream that is sour. People make it by adding lactic-acid producing bacteria to dairy cream. This thickens the cream and adds different flavors, some a bit sour.
A similar substance, crème fraiche is also made by this process. The big difference is that crème fraiche has more fat, and sour cream is slightly more tart and not as thick.
Where Does Sour Cream Get its Texture and Flavor?
Sour cream gets its characteristics from the bacteria that grow in it. The bacteria create a variety of flavors, and they also thicken the cream.
The end result is a thicker cream with a tangy taste that can add a lot of flavor to different dishes, including cakes.
How to Use Sour Cream in Cake
Sour cream can be used in your cake mix for several reasons. Sour cream can be added to cake recipes to add fat with its creaminess, to add moisture, to activate baking soda so that the cake rises, and to control browning of the cake.
There are so many different recipes you can use; sour cream will add flavor, moisture, and texture to just about any kind of cake.
The acidity of sour cream will reduce some of the sweetness to give the cake a sweet and tangy taste. The texture will be thicker, and the sour cream will help activate the baking soda so that the cake rises.
The acidity also helps it bake on the inside without burning.
Why Use Sour Cream in Cake?
How you will use the sour cream really depends on what you want it to do. You can use it as a substitute for oil or butter, or you can add it to the recipe.
Take a look at some of the common reasons to add sour cream to your recipes.
1 – It Makes the Cake Thicker
Often people use sour cream to achieve a desirable level of thickness. If the batter is too runny, it will have trouble expanding properly when you bake it.
The consistency of sour cream is very similar to the consistency of cake batter, so it will not change the cake batter too much. This will add moisture to your batter.
2 – It Helps with Browning Your Cake
It is always important for the inside of your cake to bake without the outside of it burning. The temperature is only one factor; the makeup of your cake batter plays an equally important role.
When you add sour cream, it has low acidity, and it will actually slow down the browning so that the inside can bake.
3 – It Activates the Baking Soda
Cake recipes often call for baking soda or baking powder because they help the cake to expand when it cooks. Baking soda relies on acid to function properly, and sour cream can replace the baking powder to activate the baking soda and allow the cake to rise.
In addition, the baking soda will take out some of the sourness of the sour cream, leaving just the right amount of flavor for a fluffy, tangy taste.
4 – It Increases the Richness of the Cake
Sour cream has fat in it, which always makes a recipe richer. When you add sour cream (and fat) to a cake, it will be richer and creamier. This adds to the flavor and the texture, and it makes the cake delicious.
How to Bake a Cake with Sour Cream
Although you can add sour cream to any cake recipe, you can also make an actual sour cream cake, such as this Sour Cream Pound Cake from Taste of Home.
You will use the following ingredients:
- One cup of softened butter
- Three cups of sugar
- Six large eggs (room temperature)
- Three cups of all purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon of baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- One cup of sour cream
- Two teaspoons of vanilla extract
Once you have gathered these ingredients, you are ready to get to work. Follow these simple steps:
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Grease and flour a 10-inch fluted tube pan, set it aside.
- Cream the butter, and sugar five to seven minutes, until it’s fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beat the mixture after each egg is added.
- Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to mixture.
- Mix in sour cream and vanilla.
- Beat on low until it is blended.
- Pour in the pan, bake for two hours, or until toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then move it to a wire rack.
This recipe is simple, and you will have a cake that is rich, moist, and tastes delicious when you are finished.
What Kinds of Cake Can Be Made with Sour Cream?
You can make just about any cake with sour cream. There are so many different recipes online, and you can pick and choose your favorite. Here are some of the many options:
- Sour Cream Pound Cake
- Red Velvet Sour Cream Cake
- Apple and Sour Cream Cake
- Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
- Sour Cream Coconut Cake
- Sour Cream Yellow Cake
- Sour Cream Swirl Cake
In addition to using sour cream for your cake, you can also use sour cream for your frosting. Sour cream frosting is creamy with a bit of tang, and it will enhance the flavor of any cake.
You can add fruits such as cherries and other berries to enhance the flavor, and it is easy to spread, light, fluffy, and delicious.
What Is a Good Substitute for Sour Cream?
The best substitute for sour cream is yogurt. Greek yogurt is the best type of yogurt to use because it is thicker than regular yogurts. You will use the same measurement and simply substitute the yogurt in place of the sour cream in the recipe.
The only difference is that you should add one teaspoon of baking soda for each cup of yogurt to make sure that it thickens the same way.
There are other possible substitutes, including the following:
- Soy milk
- Cottage cheese
- Cream cheese
Any of these will change the texture and the flavor of the recipe a little bit, so be prepared for the variation.
How to Store Sour Cream
You should always keep sour cream in the refrigerator, and make sure you use it within three weeks of the “sell-by” date. You can check it to make sure it is good to use.
Look for a moldy smell, actual mold growth on the surface, discoloration, or yellowing. If you see any of these signs, you need to throw it away.
You can store sour cream in the freezer. It will last for approximately six months in there. Although freezing it will change the texture, it will still be fine for baking. Before you use it, thaw it in the refrigerator for a few days, and it will be ready.
Sour cream is a great addition to a cake, and it will add texture, moisture, and flavor to your baked goods. It can be used in a variety of recipes, as well as frosting.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.