Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

May 26

Chocolate Sour Cream Cake – rich and fudgy chocolate sour cream cake with a chocolate sour cream buttercream.

Chocolate Sour Cream Cake: inspired by cakes from the early 1900s, this chocolate sour cream cake is easy to make and full of chocolate flavor. #cakebycourtney #vintagecakes #chocolatesourcreamcake #easychocolatecakerecipe #chocolatecakerecipe #chocolatecake #easycakerecipe

Happy Tuesday, friends! I hope you all had a lovely Memorial Day yesterday. It looks like many of you were busy baking patriotic desserts. Thanks for always sharing them with me on Instagram. It’s so fun to see your creativity!

Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

Today’s new cake is one of my vintage cake revivals. After last week’s citrus cake, I decided to go in the completely opposite direction and make a chocolate cake. Chocolate Sour Cream Cake to be exact.

Original Recipe

Similar to the Florida Orange Cake, the chocolate sour cream cake from my vintage cakes cookbooks, was shortening based and didn’t have a lot of liquid or fats, aside from the sour cream. The original recipe also didn’t have very much cocoa – which I understand, because these recipes were created in the 1940s, in the middle of a war when a lot of ingredients were rationed.

In fact, the more I make recipes from this cookbook, the more I appreciate the women’s resourcefulness during this time. While ingredients like shortening and water aren’t my go-to add-ins for cakes, these bakers were able to make do what they had and created beautiful cakes that I have no doubt were the talk of the town!

Sorry for the bad iPhone picture – this is what I snapped for Instagram to compare the original cake (left) to my updated version (right).

Updated Recipe

Just like last week, I baked the cake according to the original recipe. It turn out a little dry and bland, but wasn’t too far off from the texture and flavor I expected. Only a few small tweaks were needed.

  • Buttermilk – I added some buttermilk to the recipe to help add moisture. Like sour cream, this acidic ingredient helps to tenderize the gluten in the flour, which gives our baked goods a softer texture and more volume.
  • Oil – In place of shortening, I decided to try out vegetable oil. I use it in my chocolate cake and it works great with the buttermilk, eggs and water to create moisture. You can also use butter or another type of oil as a substitute for the shortening.
  • Cocoa Powder – to give the cake a slightly richer chocolate flavor, I added cocoa powder to the recipe. I usually use THIS more expensive, dark cocoa powder in my chocolate cakes, but wanted to stay true to the budget-conscious mind of 1940, and used basic, inexpensive Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa.
Chocolate Sour Cream Cake: inspired by cakes from the early 1900s, this chocolate sour cream cake is easy to make and full of chocolate flavor. #cakebycourtney #vintagecakes #chocolatesourcreamcake #easychocolatecakerecipe #chocolatecakerecipe #chocolatecake #easycakerecipe

The end result of round two was a tender, moist and extra rich chocolate cake. The overall texture, of the original recipe and my updated recipe, is slightly more dense and brownie-like compared to my go-to chocolate cake. (Just a heads up).

Chocolate Sour Cream Cake: inspired by cakes from the early 1900s, this chocolate sour cream cake is easy to make and full of chocolate flavor. #cakebycourtney #vintagecakes #chocolatesourcreamcake #easychocolatecakerecipe #chocolatecakerecipe #chocolatecake #easycakerecipe

Note: This cake is baked in an 8″ x 8″ square pan. Be sure to spray the bottom and sides of the pan, add some parchment to the bottom and spray again – just like we do with our round cake pans.


Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

Rich and fudgy chocolate sour cream cake with a chocolate sour cream buttercream.

Course Dessert
Cuisine Cake
Keyword Beginner, Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Sour Cream Cake, Vintage Cakes
Servings 16 people



  • 1/2 cup (109 g) vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) sour cream at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) buttermilk at room temperature
  • 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate baking squares melted
  • 1/3 cup (33 g) cocoa powder
  • 2 cups (226 g) cake flour
  • 2 tsp (8 g) baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp (3 g) baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 g) salt


  • 1/2 cup (113 g) butter
  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate baking squares melted
  • 3 cups (375 g) powdered sugar measured and then sifted
  • 1/4 cup (60 g) sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp (2 g) vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt



  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Spray an 8" x 8" square baking pan with nonstick spray, line the bottom with parchment paper and spray again. Set aside.

  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine. Set aside.

  3. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream and the buttermilk. Stir to combine. Set aside.

  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using a hand mixer, beat the oil, sugar and eggs on medium speed for about two minutes.

  5. Add the melted baking chocolate and stir to combine.

  6. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients to the oil and sugar mixture. Start and end with the dry ingredients and mix only until incorporated.

  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 325 degrees F. for about 40 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick is inserted into the center of the cake and comes out with a few moist crumbs on it. Let cool completely before adding frosting.


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for about 2 minutes on medium-high speed.

  2. Turn the mixer to low speed and slowly add the melted chocolate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix well.

  3. Gradually add the powdered sugar, vanilla and pinch of salt. Add the sour cream.

  4. Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat the frosting for about 5 minutes.

3 thoughts on “Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

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  1. First attempt and 40 min was way too long of a bake time for me. It was my fault for not checking earlier. I’ll try again. Frosting is delicious.

  2. 3 stars
    I’m not sure why this cake didn’t work out for me – it turned out pretty dry and the frosting was somewhat grainy. The taste was there, but everything else was off 😬