Why You Should Try Adding Sour Cream To Your Cake Recipe

There are many different textures in the world of cake — from fluffy, light Angel food, cake to dense, flourless chocolate cakes. Whatever the desired texture of your cake is, however, there's one thing they all have in common: No one wants a dry cake. There are plenty of different tips and tricks for incorporating moisture into your cake recipe, but one simple ingredient you may want to consider adding for truly dreamy cakes is a staple you likely have kicking around your fridge already — sour cream (via Sally's Baking Addiction). 

In fact, you don't even have to significantly alter the recipe to incorporate this ingredient. When you are incorporating a bit of milk to get your cake batter to the right consistency, simply add in a tablespoon or two of sour cream. Thanks to its thick consistency, sour cream is able to add a dose of moisture without changing the overall consistency of your cake batter (via Food Crumbles). And, since sour cream has quite a high fat content compared to other common dairy-based cake additions, such as milk or buttermilk (don't even try to bake with the fat-free version of sour cream!), it also delivers some serious richness to your cake recipe. It's really a win-win — Who doesn't want their cake to be decadent and moist? If you've ever been on the fence about adding sour cream, worrying the tanginess would be too overpowering, it's time to give it a shot.

What makes sour cream so special?

The reason sour cream is such a magical addition to cakes is the combination of fat and acid within the ingredient. And when we say sour cream has a higher fat content than other ingredients, such as buttermilk, we're not joking. Even if you opt for whole milk or whole buttermilk, you are only getting about 8 grams of fat per cup, while the same amount of sour cream delivers a whopping 45 grams of fat (per Allrecipes). That's a serious upgrade, and will mean your cake has a velvety, rich texture that can't be beat. 

Fat also impacts the gluten strands in the cake, shortening them in a way that creates a tender cake (via Martha Stewart). Coincidentally, it's those gluten strands that are impacted by the acidity in sour cream, as well, as the acidic ingredient tenderizes the gluten strands, yielding a more tender, delectable texture in your chosen cake. If you are eager to try out this ingredient in your favorite recipe to see if you can taste the difference, but are all out of sour cream, there are a few suggested substitutes. In a pinch, you could swap out sour cream with the same amount of plain, full fat yogurt, or créme fraîche — but be forewarned that the results won't be quite the same.