This Sour Cream Chocolate Cake is a classic rich chocolate cake made extra moist by the addition of sour cream. Baked in a bundt cake it looks elegant but is deceptively easy to make. It's one of those recipes that is sure to become a favourite in your home.
This homemade Chocolate Sour Cream Cake is an absolute chocolate lover's dream that never disappoints. Made with a secret ingredient, (well not so secret now!), sour cream, it's moist, rich and unbelievably satisfying.
I've baked it in my favourite Bundt pan and I give you all the tips on how to do this. For such a simple cake, baking it in this beautiful mould turns it into a classy-looking cake. I love it. The glaze on top is a simple chocolate ganache but helps to concentrate and accentuate the overall chocolate flavour.
- Why you'll love this Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
- Can you taste the sour cream in a sour cream chocolate cake?
- Ingredients needed
- Recipe pro tips
- Baking in a bundt pan pro tips
- Step-by-step instructions
- Frequently asked questions
- Equipment you’ll need
- More chocolate recipes that you'll enjoy
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
Why you'll love this Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
- Uses basic ingredients. All the ingredients used within this chocolate cake with sour cream are standard ones you'll have in your fridge and pantry or are easily found at your local store.
- Simple to make. Even though it looks sensational, this sour cream cake is surprisingly simple to make with no complicated steps. I'll take you through the steps so that you can easily nail this recipe too.
- The taste is unreal. Your chocolate cravings will most definitely be cured with this cake. Its rich flavour is balanced and not sickly sweet.
- It can be made into a layer cake if you don't have a bundt pan. Don't worry if you don't have a special bundt cake pan! I'll share with you how to bake it in a couple of regular cake pans.
- Keep it simple or go the extra on the decoration. This cake looks stunning dressed in a simple chocolate ganache. Or decorate simply with some seasonal blackberries for a beautiful chocolate berry cake. Or go all out and add fresh flowers, chocolate shavings or whatever you like!
- Perfect for ANY occasion. It's the most perfect cake for family gatherings, the holiday season, Christmas and so many more occasions.
Can you taste the sour cream in a sour cream chocolate cake?
Not at all! Even though sour cream is more often than not used in savoury cooking, in baking cakes, it works like a dream. You may think that there would be an aftertaste or an odd tanginess to the sour cream cake, but there isn't at all. The deep chocolate flavours override any taste from the sour cream.
So why use it then?
- Texture: Adding sour cream to your cake batter gives your cake a beautiful soft tender crumb. To get technical, the acidity in the cream tenderises the gluten in the flour resulting in a super-fine crumb texture.
- Moisture: The high-fat content in sour cream makes the cake lovely and moist and this, in turn, helps the cake stay fresh for longer by keeping it from drying out. It's an absolute game-changer in your chocolate cake repertoire!
- Taste: The high-fat content also helps with the overall taste as it adds an extra layer of richness and depth of flavour.
Even though the list of ingredients isn't complicated or complex, here are a couple of pointers on key ingredients.
- Cocoa powder - In the UK, regular cocoa powder found on supermarket shelves is Dutch-processed. I use the Dr. Oetker brand. If baking in the US, you have the choice between Natual Cocoa Powder and Dutch-Processed, you can read more about the differences between the two here. This recipe calls for Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder to create the perfect flavour balance in the sponge.
- Butter - I prefer to use unsalted butter as I can then control the amount of salt added. If you prefer salted butter, then omit the salt later on in the recipe. Salt enhances the chocolate flavour but too much is never a good thing.
- Sugars - Light brown and granulated sugar are used in this recipe. The light brown sugar adds moisture and both contribute to the flavour and structure of the cake.
- Eggs - Large eggs are best at room temperature. If you forget to take them out of the fridge ahead of time, then pop the eggs in warm water for ten minutes.
- Chocolate - I recommend 70% dark chocolate as the bitter notes balance out the sweetness of the cake and compliment the flavours. My favourite is Lindt Chocolate. It also creates a luscious, rich ganache for decoration. I don't recommend chocolate chips as they contain stabilisers that prevent them from melting.
- Sour cream - The hero of our blackberry chocolate cake. Don't panic if you run out. There are substitutes that work really well. Greek yogurt, creme fraiche or buttermilk all have the high-fat content and acidity that we need.
- Double (heavy) cream - use full-fat cream for the chocolate ganache. It helps the ganache to set once cooled. A low-fat cream will create a chocolate sauce that will remain liquid on the cake.
Recipe pro tips
- How to weigh flour. I'm a firm believer in using a digital scale to weigh out your ingredients. They're inexpensive and give you accurate results every time. Measuring by cups runs the risk of adding too much flour which will dry out the sponge.
- Room temperature ingredients. The butter and eggs, in particular, should be at room temperature. At this temp, they combine and homogenise best with other ingredients creating an even textured bake.
- Make sure to bloom the cocoa. Don't skip the first step of melting the chocolate and cocoa powder into boiling water. This 'activates' the cocoa powder and helps concentrate the flavour.
- Use a good quality Bundt pan. My favourite pans are from Nordicware. Their pans are both beautiful and high-quality. Treat it well and they'll last forever!
Whilst testing this recipe, I had a couple of issues unmolding the cake from the bundt pan perfectly. It's SO disheartening to bake a cake only to ruin it when unmolding it. I actually put a call out to my Instagram followers for their best tips and they came back with loads!
I picked my favourite ones and since I started implementing the following tips, the cake came out of the bundt pan perfectly. If you have your own method that you swear by, then stick with that. But if you're new to baking in a bundt pan then these tips will help you to succeed.
Baking in a bundt pan pro tips
- Know your bundt pan size. Not sure which one you have? Use a measuring cup, fill it with water and pour it into the bundt pan. Keep going until the water is level with the top of the pan, keeping a tally of the number of cups used. Picking the right size pan for what the recipe recommends is important. Too small and the batter will overflow.
- Prep the pan at the correct time: In the next step I recommend how to prepare your pan - but timing is important too. Don't prep the pan when you preheat the oven. Do it once the batter is made, just before filling the pan. If you do it too early, the grease can pool in the bottom of the pan.
- Grease the pan: Using a pastry brush, grease every nook of the pan with cake-release oil, baking spray, or softened butter (not cold or melted butter). Grease it generously.
- Dust the pan. Dust in cocoa powder or a combination of cocoa powder and sugar. Knock out any excess. The sugar leaves a light crust on the outside which I quite like but does leave whiteness. Mixing it with cocoa powder means you have that beautiful dark appearance too.
- Lightly tap out the air bubbles: Once the batter is poured into the pan- lightly tap the pan on the countertop. This helps any air bubbles rise from the base of the cake, which when baked and flipped will be the top.
- Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes once baked: Unmolding the cake too soon after baking the sponge is soft and will fall apart. Leave the cake too long and the sugar will cool and stick to the pan. 15-20 minutes was the sweet spot for me.
- Loosen the cake gently: Once baked, remove the pan from the oven. Use a mini rubber spatula to gently run it between the cake and pan as carefully as you can.
- Turn out the cake confidently: Place your wire rack over the bundt pan and tip the pan over in one swift movement. The cake should pop right out.
The recipe breaks down into simple steps:
- Blooming the cocoa powder.
- Beating butter, sugar, then eggs.
- Adding half the dry ingredients, then chocolate mixture and sour cream, then remaining dry.
- Prepping pan and baking then topping with ganache
It's an uncomplicated process but I've included, process images and a few pointers along the way to help you out.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
Make chocolate sour cream cake sponge
1. Bloom the cocoa powder. In a small bowl, add the chopped chocolate, light brown sugar and cocoa powder and pour over with the boiling water. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the chocolate is melted. Set to one side. (Image 1 & 2)
2. Beat butter and sugar then combine eggs. Using electric hand-held beaters, or a stand mixer, add the butter and sugar into a bowl and beat until pale (for about 3 minutes). You can use hand-held electric beaters as I have done, or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (Images 3 &4).
Then add the eggs one a time mixing until combined (Images 5 & 6).
TIP: Scrape the base and sides of the bowl periodically.
Do this frequently to catch ingredients that smear along the sides or bottom of the bowl. If you don't then the batter will not be combined evenly affecting the end result of the sponge.
3. Add dry ingredients, cocoa mixture and sour cream. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a separate bowl. Then add half into the batter and mix on low (Images 7 & 8).
Next, add the cocoa mixture and sour cream and mix on low until combined (Images 9).
Finally, add the remaining flour mixture and mix until a few flour streaks remain (Images 10)
TIP: Importance of the remaining flour streaks
If you can still see a few flour streaks in the batter, that means you havent over mixed it. Over mixing causes gluten strands to overdevelop and the sponge can turn out rubbery.
4. Prepare the bundt pan. Generously brush softened butter, baking spray or cake-release oil into the bundt pan - make sure to get into all the nooks of the pan, including the central column (Image 11). Dust with a combination of cocoa powder and sugar (or just cocoa powder if you prefer), knocking out the excess (Image 12).
5. Pour in the batter and bake. Pour in the batter into the prepped bundt pan and smooth the top. Tap the bundt pan gently to release any air bubbles in the batter (Image 13). Bake until the sponge springs back and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Once baked, remove from the oven and let cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Use a rubber spatula and push it gently down between the sponge and cake pan to gently release it. Then invert onto a wire rack. The cake should pop right out. Cool completely (Image 14).
Make the ganache
1. Heat the cream. Heat the cream in a small saucepan on low until warm. Don't let it boil, otherwise, it will split.
2. Add cream to the chopped chocolate. Make sure the chocolate is chopped into small pieces, it melts quicker when in smaller pieces. Pour the cream over the chocolate and butter ad whisk until the chocolate is melted and butter and whisk until the chocolate is melted and ganache smooth (Images 15 & 16).
Pour the ganache over the cooled bundt and set aside for 20-30 minutes for the ganache to set. (Or tuck in right away- I'll leave that part up to you!!)
I've provided you with two types of variations to this cake. I've listed various ideas on how to decorate the cake followed by how to bake the cake in different pans.
This beautiful chocolate cream cake is like an artist's blank canvas. You can choose how much or how little you decorate it. Here are some options for you.
- Leave plain with the ganache: The ganache is simplicity personified and looks truly gorgeous all smooth and glossy.
- Icing Sugar: If you want to let the cake be the hero, then dust the bundt simply with powdered icing sugar. Then serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and mixed berries.
- Chocolate shavings: Go for triple chocolate heaven and top the ganache with chocolate shavings. Every chocolate lover's dream!
- Fruit: I first made this bundt cake as a layer cake and love it decorated in seasonal berries. Blackberries are my favourite summer berry and pair beautifully with rich deep chocolate.
- Caramel: Knock the chocolate on its head and substitute the chocolate ganache for homemade salted caramel sauce. You know it will taste insane!
- Whipped cream cheese frosting: Whip together 112g (4oz) cream cheese, 60g (½ cup) powdered icing sugar and 240ml (1 cup) double/heavy cream until soft peaks form. This creates a luxurious topping and also filling that I've used on this cake when baked in layers.
Understandably, many don't own a cake pan or want to convert the cake into a layer cake or numerous cupcakes. This is easily done.
- Sheet Cake: This cake converts well to a 9x13inch sheet pan. Test for doneness at the 35-40 minute mark. Much like my Caramel Sheet Cake, it serves well to feed a crowd.
- Pound Cake: Turn this easily into a Chocolate Sour Cream Pound Cake by baking in two 9x5-inch loaf pans for approximately 40-50 minutes.
- Layer cake: Bake in two 8 or 9-inch cake pans. 8-inch will produce taller layers whilst the 9-inch will produce a wider cake. Bake for 20-25 minutes. I initially baked this as a layer cake filled and topped with a whipped cream cheese frosting and decorated with blackberries. The combination is divine. You can see the image below of how it looks as a layer cake.
- Cupcakes: Use this batter to make cupcakes. I haven't personally tested the recipe in cupcake form to know how many you'd get, my guess would be 24 cupcakes. Ensure that you fill the cases ¾ full and bake for around 12-15 minutes. This batter would make some delicious cupcakes made even batter topped with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting.
Frequently asked questions
The process of creaming the butter and sugar together for long enough until its pale incorporates air which results in a fluffier cake. The baking powder and baking soda also ensure a nice lift in the sponge. The addition of sour cream makes the texture moist and light.
In this case, I prefer the use of butter. Butter contains water which helps create a moist cake. Also, butter brings a richer and more flavourful profile to the chocolate cake.
I would test the cake at around the 40 minutes mark. This is a bundt cake erring on the smaller size so I find this timing in my oven is perfect. That being said, everyone's oven runs differently so if you find it takes a little longer then don't worry.
You can make the entire cake ahead of time, before decorating it with chocolate ganache. Cover cooled cake and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before decorating and serving. The sour cream in the cake means that it stays moist for a long time.
Baked cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature (if desired) before icing and serving.
Place cake under a cake dome, in an air-tight container or wrapped well in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for 3-4 days. (This only applies if it is only decorated in ganache and not fruit.) I suggest removing the fruit, if there is any on top) and storing it in the refrigerator if you'd like it to last 4-5 days. Note though it does tend to dry out the longer it's kept in the fridge.
I recommend freezing the cake before you've added the ganache. Once the cake has cooled completely, wrap it well in plastic wrap. Then cover well in aluminium foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and make the ganache.
Equipment you’ll need
- Hand-held electric beaters: I use the Kitchen Aid hand-held beaters which I love, but for years used Kenwood inexpensive ones. They're definitely needed to beat air into the butter and sugar. Use a standmixer fitted with the paddle attachment if you prefer.
- Bundt Pan: Nordicware is my preferred pan of choice for all my bundt pan needs. They come in beautiful shapes. Just be aware of the cup size in creation to what the recipe asks for. I used the 10-cup Anniversary Bundt Pan for this recipe and I love the design.
- Mini rubber spatula: Pushing this little spatula in between the sponge and cake tin helps to release the sponge if it has stuck slightly to the tin. The small rubber head helps get into little, odd angles without scratching the tin or damaging the cake.
More chocolate recipes that you'll enjoy
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This post was originally published in August 2019 but has been updated with new photos, new content and a revised recipe.
Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
- Nordicware Anniversary Bundt Pan
- Electric Hand held beaters
- Mini rubber spatula
Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
- 80 g dark chocolate 70%, finely chopped
- 110 g light brown sugar
- 35 g cocoa powder
- 180 g boiling water
- 230 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 200 g granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 250 g plain flour (all-purpose)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 120 g sour cream
- 120 g double cream (heavy cream)
- 100 g 70% dark chocolate
- 15 g unsalted butter
- 120 g fresh blackberries
Chocolate sour cream cake
- Bloom the cocoa powder. Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). In a medium sized bowl, add the finely chopped chocolate, light brown sugar and cocoa powder and pour in the boiling water. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved and chocolate has melted leaving you with a smooth chocolate liquid. Set aside.
- Beat butter and sugar then beat in the eggs. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar on high with hand-held electric beaters, until pale and fluffy, about five minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition. Ensure the you scrape down the bowl after adding each egg.
- Add dry ingredients, cocoa mixture and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir together. Add half of the flour mix into the batter and beat on low to combine.Add the cocoa mixture and sour cream and mix on low to combine.Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix on low until a few flour streaks remain.
- Prepare the bundt pan. Light grease with non-stick baking spray or using a pastry brush, grease with softened butter the internal surface of the bundt pan. Grease generously not omitting any of the nooks and the central column.Dust the pan with cocoa powder, sugar or a combination of both. (The sugar does leave a slight crust.)
- Bake. Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan. Gently but firmly tap the bundt pan to release any air bubbles in the batter. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the centre of the cake springs back when pressed and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Once baked, remove from the oven and let the cake cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack. Let cool completely before decorating with ganache.
- Make the ganache. Heat the cream over medium heat on the stove until simmering. Place chocolate and butter in a bowl and pour the hot cream over the top. Let it sit for five minutes then whisk until the chocolate is melted and the ganache smooth.Pop the bowl in the microwave and heat for 10-second increments if the chocolate hasn't melted fully.
- Decorate. Pour warm ganache over cooled bundt cake. Decorate with blackberries and set aside for the ganache to set, then slice and serve. Best served at room temperature.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.