Beatrice Ojakangas claims in her Finnish Cookbook that Finnish sour cream cake is a recipe that American Finns continue to pass down through the generations. Though this cake isn’t one that my own Finnish American family makes a lot (at least not to my knowledge!) I suspect that Mrs. Ojakangas is correct in her assertion. There are just so many positives to this cake, it’s the type of dessert that tends to become a timeless classic.
Traditionally, sour cream cake is served un-iced, covered only by a dusting of powdered sugar. My version includes an orange glaze, which I find complements the spiced cake extremely well. You may skip the glaze entirely if your goal is authenticity, but I really do recommend trying it with the glaze as well.
So what is a sour cream cake?
Sour cream provides this cake with its fat and its moisture. It contains no milk or butter-though it does call for eggs. I absolutely love the texture of this cake. It’s somehow both tender and structured, perfectly moistened but also fairly dry. It has a deliciously crisp crust. This cake is lightly spiced with cinnamon & cardamom. It comes together very quickly and easily, especially if you’re not grinding your cardamom, though a cute fluted pan will make it look impressive. It’s also quite easy on the wallet, which I appreciate!
Equipment needed for Sour Cream Cake
Ingredients for Sour Cream Cake
For the cake:
- Sour Cream: I recommend full fat. The sour cream supplies just about all of the fat for this cake and gives it its texture: You would likely sacrifice on texture by reducing the fat content.
- Granulated sugar
- Almond extract
- All-purpose flour
- Baking soda
- Fine sea salt
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground cardamom: Though fresh-ground always beats store bought in flavor and fragrance, I usually opt for store-bought in this recipe. You can use either with good results.
For the orange glaze:
- Powdered sugar
- Orange juice: I usually zest an orange and then squeeze it for the juice.
- Orange zest
- Melted butter
Prep your fluted/tube pan with butter and sugar. I use a sandwich baggie to smear a pat of butter around (about a half tablespoon is plenty) then dump some granulated sugar in and shake it around so that the sugar coats the butter. Set the pan aside.
Combine the eggs, sour cream, sugar, and almond extract in a large mixing bowl. I find that a whisk works very well. Also, at this stage, the mixture has a pretty strong sour cream smell: don’t worry, that won’t stick around.
In a separate, medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cardamom.
Gradually add the dry ingredient mixture into the sour cream mixture. Beat until well combined. The batter will be quite thick and probably not pourable. I usually use a whisk to beat them together, but its pretty thick for a whisk if you don’t have a stiff one.
Scoop the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
Place in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 1 hour.
After removing from oven, let sit for 5-10 minutes, then turn out onto a cake stand or plate.
For the orange glaze: While the cake is cooling, whisk together all glaze ingredients in a small bowl. The glaze will be runny. Pour it onto the cake, when cooled to room temp or slightly warmer.
Slice and enjoy! The glaze will harden over time. While it is still runny some of it will pool in the center of the cake-I like to scoop additional glaze onto a slice.
I store covered at room temp for a couple of days.
The texture of this sour cream cake makes it very easy to pack, for a picnic or whatever suits your fancy, if you skip the glaze. You could smear a little marmalade or other spread on slices of cake.
- For the cake:
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 cups sour cream (a 1 lb container of sour cream, or 454g, is about 2 cups)
- 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1.5 tsp ground cardamom
- For the orange glaze:
- 1.75 cups (224 g) powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) orange juice
- 1 Tbsp orange zest
- 1 tsp melted butter
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
- Prepare a fluted pan by greasing the inside with butter, then covering the butter with a layer of granulated sugar. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, sugar and almond extract.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom
- Gradually beat the flour mixture into the sour cream mixture until fully combined and smooth.
- Transfer the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake 1 hour. Let rest in pan for about 5 to 10 minutes before turning out onto a plate or cake stand.
- Let cool before glazing. While cake is cooling, whisk together all glaze ingredients in a small bowl, and pour over the top of the cake. Glaze will be fairly runny.
- You can slice while the glaze is still runny and spoon more onto your piece of cake, or let stand until the glaze hardens somewhat. Enjoy!
1. I use a whisk to combine the wet and dry ingredients, but the batter is pretty thick and can be too much for a whisk unless you've got a stiff one. Because it's a thicker batter, I transfer it to the prepared pan with a spoon.
2. If you want to skip the glaze, you certainly can. Traditionally this cake was served un-iced, covered in a simple dusting of powdered sugar.
Ready for another cardamom-flavored indulgence? Click here
Did you try out this recipe? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!