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Chocolate Sour Cream Layer Cake Recipe


Sour cream and cocoa combine in a luscious, rich layer cake topped with chocolate sour cream frosting. Plain yogurt may be substituted for the sour cream, if need be. The instructions may appear long, but this is actually an easy cake to make. It may be made up to 2 days in advance or frozen for 3 months before frosting.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes


  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 3/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting (see recipe link below)


Prepare two 8-inch round layer cake pans by lining the bottom of each with a round of parchment paper. Lightly grease or spray the sides with vegetable oil.

All ingredients should be at room temperature.

Position the rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together 3 times. Set aside.

Combine the sour cream with 1/4 cup water and set aside.

In a medium to large bowl with an electric mixer (using the flat beater or paddle instead of the whisk on heavy-duty stand mixers), beat the butter for a few seconds until creamy. Add the sugar in a steady stream and continue to beat (at high speed with a hand-held mixer or at medium speed with a stand mixer) until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, break the eggs into a cup, add the vanilla and whisk to combine the whites and yolks. Beat the eggs into the butter mixture gradually, taking 1-1/2 to 2 minutes, beating constantly.

Stop the mixer and add one third of the flour mixture to the bowl. Beat on low speed only until no flour is visible. Stop the mixer and add half of the sour cream. Beat only until blended. Repeat with half of the remaining flour mixture, then all of the remaining sour cream, and finally the remaining flour. Stop the mixer each time you add ingredients, then beat on low speed only enough to incorporate ingredients after each addition. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and spread evenly.

Bake until the cake starts to shrink away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes before unmolding. Invert each layer on a rack and peel off the parchment liners. Turn the layers right side up and cool completely on the rack before assembling. Cake can be prepared to this point, wrapped well, and kept at room temperature for 1 to 2 days before using, or frozen for up to 3 months.

Turn 1 cooled cake layer upside down on a platter, if using, or corrugated cardboard cake circle. Spread about 2/3 cup of the frosting on top. Top with the second layer, right side up. Frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting. Store and serve at room temperature. Cake keeps at room temperature, in a covered container, for 2 to 3 days.

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting Recipe

Recipe Source: A Year in Chocolate by Alice Medrich (Warner Books)
Reprinted with permission.

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