Easy and Delicious Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

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

Easy Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

Happy Tuesday, friends! I hope the start of the new year hasn’t felt too stressful and you’re ready to dive into cake.

Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

Today’s cake is one of my vintage cake revivals. You may remember that last year I dove into vintage cakes from my vintage cookbook collection. Chocolate Sour Cream Cake was one that I repeatedly found in my collect, so I decided to make my own version and give the old classic an update.

You’ll find this recipe below, as well as in my new COOKBOOK.

Original Recipe

Similar to the Florida Orange Cake I made last year from the vintage cookbooks, the chocolate sour cream cake from my vintage books was shortening-based and didn’t have a lot of liquid or fats, aside from the sour cream. The original recipes 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 with what they had and created beautiful cakes that I have no doubt were the talk of the town!

The picture below shows you the difference my updates made in this cake. The cake on the left is from a recipe in my vintage books. The cake on the right is my new chocolate sour cream cake.

Sorry for the bad iPhone picture but I just had to show you the difference.

So let’s talk about the updates I made.

Updated Recipe

I baked the cake on the left according to the original recipe. It turned 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.
Piping buttercream

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 denser and brownie-like compared to my go-to chocolate cake. (Just a heads up).

Easy square pan cake

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.

Can I double this recipe?

Yes, you can absolutely double this recipe and create a 9″ x 13″ cake or a two-layered 8-inch round cake. Be sure to add a little extra time for baking.

Vintage Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

Chocolate Sour Cream Buttercream

You are going to love this buttercream. It’s silky, rich with flavor, and has the most delicious balance of bittersweet chocolate and tangy sour cream.

Not only is this Chocolate Sour Cream Buttercream divine, it’s easy to make and pipes beautifully.

How to Make the Best Buttercream Frosting

To get this silky smooth buttercream, make sure you follow my tips: HOW TO MAKE THE BEST BUTTERCREAM

  • Sift your powdered sugar
  • Use slightly cold butter
  • Use heavy whipping cream (in this recipe, we’re using sour cream instead)
  • Beat for 5 minutes
  • Stir by hand

You’ll want to check out the post linked above for more details on each step to make sure you get the best buttercream frosting. And remember, these steps can be used for any buttercream recipe on my blog.

IMPORTANT For chocolate buttercream specifically, remember to heat the cream and chocolate together first. You’ll then stir the mixture until it becomes a smooth ganache. Once the ganache has cooled slightly, you’ll add the mixture to the butter and continue making the buttercream according to the instructions.

More Recipes You’ll Enjoy

Easy Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

4.71 from 17 votes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Cake


For the Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

  • 1/2 cup (95 g) vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) sour cream, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 ounces (56 g) unsweetened chocolate baking squares, melted
  • 1/3 cup (33 g) cocoa powder
  • 2 cups (226 g) cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons (8 g) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3 g) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 g) salt

For the Chocolate Sour Cream Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, slightly cold
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate baking squares, melted
  • 3 cups (375 g) powdered sugar, measured then sifted
  • 1/4 cup (60 g) sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt


For the Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

  • 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.
  • In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, combine the sour cream and the buttermilk. Stir to combine. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the oil, sugar and eggs on medium speed for about two minutes, until light and fluffy in color and texture.
  • Add the melted baking chocolate and stir to combine. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix for another 20 to 30 seconds.
  • With the mixer on low speed, add ⅓ of the dry ingredients, followed by half of the buttermilk and sour cream mixture, ⅓ of the dry ingredients, the second half of the buttercream and sour cream mixture and then the final ⅓ of the dry ingredients. Mix just until combined.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes outs with just a few moist crumbs on it.
  • Let cool completely before frosting.

For the Chocolate Sour Cream Buttercream

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for about 2 minutes on medium-high speed.
  • Turn the mixer to low speed and slowly add the melted chocolate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix well.
  • Gradually add the powdered sugar, vanilla and pinch of salt. Add the sour cream.
  • Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat the frosting for about 5 minutes.
  • Evenly spread over the cake layer once the cake has cooled completely.


NOTE: This cake can be made into a two layer 8-inch round cake by doubling the batter and buttercream. 

Keyword chocolate, chocolate buttercream, Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Sour Cream Cake
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Courtney Rich

I’m a self-taught baker, obsessed with cake.

I long ago ditched box mixes in pursuit of melt-in-your-mouth, to-die-for flavor combinations, fillings and textures. I believe cake must be decadent, life-changing and worthy of celebration! And I believe anyone should be able to bake that kind of cake – and I’m here to teach you just that!

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Everything you need to know about decorating a cake like a pro!

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Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating


  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 😬

  3. 2 stars
    This cake was very dry. Did not bake evenly. Had to bake too long to get inside done. Also, frosting was thick. Had to add milk to be able to pipe it. Delicious flavor though. Very disappointed. I follow Courtney religiously and follow her tips for successful cakes. I am a decorator too.

    1. Sorry you had issues with the cake Lyn. For the buttercream, it should be silky and smooth. Not thick at all. I wonder if it could have used more time in the mixer. Beating the butter at the beginning to get it light and fluffy helps a ton. Also make sure to sift the powdered sugar. That helps lighten buttercream. As for the cake, if it turned out dry, it was likely over baked. I know you said you watched it carefully, but it’s wild how even two extra minutes can dry out a cake. Remember it still cooks while it’s cooling in the oven. Did you do the toothpick check? It’s ready when the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs on it. We don’t want it coming out of the center of the cake totally clean. Hope this helps! XO

      1. Courtney, I follow all your rules for frosting. Beating the butter, sifting the sugar, etc. The 1/4 cup of sour cream doesn’t provide enough moisture for that amount of frosting. The recipe made way more frosting than needed.
        The batter was a lot for an 8 x 8 pan. The edges were done but the center was wet to the toothpick. The cake was dry and dense.
        Since there are other comments about this recipe having grainy frosting and dry cake, I’m wondering if the recipe needs tweaking. I’m a decorator and am not new to cake.
        I’ve had very good luck with your other recipes, but there’s something wrong with this one.

  4. Can you tell me why my scratch cakes
    are not as fine textured as boxed cakes
    mixes? I have tried cake flours and all
    purpose flours…all good quality flours.

    1. Box cake mixes use oil which most homemade used unsalted butter. Butter creates a richer crumb than oil.

  5. I feel so sad it was dry and my frosting was stiff. I made the Utah altitude changes and wonder if I shouldn’t have. I maybe over baked but the middle was still thickly wet darn!!

    1. Sorry to hear it didn’t turn out. For the buttercream, keep in mind that during the winter it gets super dry in a lot of climates, like Utah. When it does, use about a cup less powdered sugar in the frosting.