This Old Fashioned Sour Cream Chocolate Cake is moist and delicious and has been my go-to chocolate cake for years.
I really can't believe it took me this long to share this recipe, given how much I love it and how often I use it. It's not only easy, it's also great for any celebration, birthday cake, everyday cake or cupcakes. Or you can dress it up any way you want and use it as the base for a decorated or special cake, like Black Forest Cake. It's just an all 'round great chocolate cake!
- cake and pastry flour (see Top Tips below)
- baking soda
- unsalted butter (substitute salted if needed, but skip the salt in the recipe)
- brown sugar
- unsweetened bakers chocolate squares (do not substitute chocolate chips)
- sour cream
- boiling water (make sure it's BOILED, not just hot from the tap)
🎂Frostings for sour cream chocolate cake
I got this recipe from a friend years ago and it is by far, my favorite chocolate cake! This cake also goes with just about any frosting, but my 2 favorite frostings to serve it with are my Whipped Cream Buttercream Frosting and my Chocolate Frosting (without butter) [shown in birthday cake photo below.]
It's also great with a Stabilized Whipped Cream Icing if you're making a Black Forest Cake. But if you want to really want to go all out chocolately, then try it with my 2 Ingredient White Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting!
💭Why put sour cream in a cake?
You may be wondering: why put sour cream in a cake? Well, the reason is that sour cream's creamy texture produces moister results than if you simply use milk and it does not thin the batter. This makes sour cream an excellent choice for recipes that tend to have drier results. Sour cream also adds thickness and richness to a cake, while it's natural acidity cuts through some of the sweetness. You can read more about that the baking science behind putting sour cream in a cake HERE.
But it's not only the sour cream that makes this cake unique, the brown sugar lends a depth of flavor, unlike any other chocolate cake I have ever tried. And even though this cake is rich and creamy, it still has a light texture and isn't dense like many homemade chocolate cakes can be.
This Old Fashioned Sour Cream Chocolate cake is quick and easy to make and tastes like you spent hours on it! And it can easily be dressed up, filled, iced and paired with just about anything you want! You can make it a single layer or make it a layer cake (see servings, below)
I always use this easy cake for my Black Forest Cake (shown) and my Death by Chocolate Trifle.
💭 Top tip
Why use cake flour:. Cake flour is made from soft wheat and has the lowest protein content of all flours (7-9% protein). Since its gluten proteins are very weak, cake flour is often used to make soft, tender baked goods like cakes, pastries, or biscuits. A chlorination process further breaks down cake flour’s gluten, creating a flour that’s even more delicate. Cake flour is recommended in recipes where you want an extra-light, extra-fluffy texture. And it pairs perfectly with the sour cream in this recipe. You can read more about cake flour HERE.
Cake flour substitution: Although I don't recommend it, in a pinch you can substitute all-purpose (AP) flour for the cake flour and pastry flour, by using this ratio: For every 1 cup cake or pastry flour called for in a recipe, measure 1 cup of AP flour, then remove 2 tablespoons (this will leave you with ⅞ cup of AP flour, also known as a scant cup) then add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. *I have done this, but it makes a cake more dense/less light and fluffy than the cake and pastry flour.
👪 Serving size
This recipe makes 2-8 inch round layer cakes (you will likely have some leftover for about 6 cupcakes) OR 1 deep 8 inch square (as seen in the photos)
So if you're looking for an excellent versatile chocolate cake for anything from cupcakes to birthday cakes, then give this one a try. I'm sure it will become your new go-to chocolate cake in no time!
And if you love easy old fashioned chocolate cakes, then check out my Old Fashioned Mayonnaise Chocolate Cake!
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📋 Old Fashioned Sour Cream Chocolate Cake Recipe
- 2 ¼ cups cake and pastry flour * see NOTES for substitution
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- 2 ¼ cups firmly packed brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 ½ tsp. vanilla
- 3 ounces (3- 1 ounce squares) bakers unsweetened chocolate melted (melt in the microwave for about 1 - 2 minutes on 50% power or use a double boiler
- 1 cup sour cream cooled
- 1 cup boiling water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/175 degrees C and grease cake pan(s) with non-stick spray. *I use Wilton Cake Release for best results
- Sift together cake and pastry flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
- Cream butter in mixer for 2 minutes, then gradually add brown sugar and continue beating for 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add vanilla and chocolate. Alternately blend in flour mixture and sour cream, one third at a time, on low speed of electric mixer.
- Add boiling water; blend well. (***Batter will be thin.) Pour into prepared 8 or 9 inch round layer cake pan or deep square pans and/or cupcakes tins.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes if making layer cakes, but about 5- 10 minutes longer for a deeper 8 or inch square cake (as in photos), or until cake tester inserted into center comes out clean. * Cupcakes need to be baked for about half the time ( 15 - 20 minutes)
- Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove and finish cooling on racks. Frost as desired.
Your Sour Cream Chocolate Cake looks so delicious, Terri. I love the way sour cream adds such depth of flavour to baked good and especially chocolate! And I love how brown sugar adds a butterscotch flavour to chocolate. I'm sure that comes through in the flavour of this tempting cake. It is a winner, I am sure. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you, Denise!
Absolutely scrumptious! This cake is so rich and moist and fairly quick to make. An excellent crowd pleaser, thanks!
thanks, Sabrina! I'm glad you enjoyed it!
A perfect chocolate cake! I'll be making it again. Thanks for sharing, Terri!
I'm glad to hear that, Colleen!