Sunday 12 June 2011

Sour Cream Chocolate Bundt Cake

During the 11 days of my exam period, I had a craving for a dark yet light chocolate cake with a sour cream tang. The day before my last exam, I bought the ingredients for this cake so I could make it once I had finished. I had been dreaming about the day I would finally finish my degree for months. I felt as if the moment I was told to stop writing the sun would suddenly start shining and life would start again, beautiful, vibrant and exciting. I daydreamed about idyllic summer days with perfect friendships and relationships and lots of cake and laughter. 

Unfortunately, as something deep inside me suspected, finishing was not all I wanted. I sat in the examination room with my heart thumping loudly inside my chest, waiting for those last few minutes to tick away. Nothing changed when the clock hand hit 12:30. I had a nice afternoon but the elation never came. I was utterly exhausted. The next morning things started changing out of my control and my daydreams started to fade quickly from sight. Instead everything around me blazing into colour, I felt desaturated even further and stuck in a bleak landscape I didn't have the energy to escape.

Though my life is not how I imagined it to be a few weeks ago, I cannot say that I am not hopeful for the future. I am proud of myself for what I have achieved in finishing my degree. I have learnt valuable lessons in the past ten days. I believe in taking the best from a situation and that everything happens for a reason. As every day passes the exhaustion seeps away and I feel stronger. I have many exciting challenges and adventures to come and, I'm sure, many bright happy days. 

As it happens, I have had one part of my wish: lots of cake. Exactly a week after I had sat writing my last exam, I finally stood in my kitchen in Oxford making this cake. It's delicious and all I had hoped it might be. My 22nd birthday on Friday also had cake despite the sad notes that hung over the day. I'll post about my birthday cake and another treat I made while recovering in Switzerland soon. Posting should generally resume, as my life is slowly beginning to. 

Sour Cream Chocolate Bundt Cake
(cake adapted from Citrus and Candy, icing adapted from Joy the Baker)

For the cake:
3 eggs
240g sour cream
55g best quality cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
230g plain flour
150g caster sugar
100g soft brown sugar
1 and 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 175C. Grease the bundt tin well with butter. Lightly beat the eggs in a large jug then whisk the sour cream, cocoa and vanilla in until combined.  In a mixer whisk the flour, sugars, baking powder, bicarb and salt together until evenly distributed. Add the soft butter and half the cocoa mix and slowly whisk until nearly combined, then increase the speed until fully incorporated. Slowly add more of the cocoa mix from the jug until fully incorporated. Transfer the mixture to the bundt tin and tap it a few times on your worktop to flatten and evenly distribute the mixture. Bake for 40-50 minutes - it's ready when a skewer/tester can be removed cleanly from the centre of part of the ring. Leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool. 

For the icing:
35g chocolate
40g butter
75g icing sugar
35ml sour cream
15ml coffee
(1 tbsp milk)

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove the water from the pan then melt the butter in the pan. Slowly add the melted butter to the chocolate while whisking. Add the sour cream and sift half of the sugar over the top and then whisk to combine (I did the s.c. first without the sugar and it went a bit funny, so I recommend following Joy's instructions and doing them together). Add the rest of the sugar and whisk again. Finally add the coffee and whisk once more. If too stiff, add a tbsp of milk and whisk again. 

(Serves 12-14)


  1. Sorry to hear finishing finals wasn't all you hoped it would be...I had a similar anticlimactic few days/weeks too. If you want to talk about it send me an email! Cake looks delish though x

  2. I hope you recover from your exams soon and that the sun starts shining again over you and your kitchen. This chocolate cake looks delicious, I'd never thought of associating sour cream with chocolate, so I'll have to try once the weather cools down again a bit here.

  3. Congratulations, Emma! I'm a big fan of your blog :) In fact, I also did a degree in English language and literature but my passion lies in baking :)) I wish you every success in accomplishing all your dreams! For now, have a good rest and enjoy summer :))

  4. Congrats Emma! I'm still drooling over your mums carrot cake.

  5. Congratulations on finishing your exams:) I've been following your blog for a while now, your post are always inspiring:) Good luck!!

  6. I completely sympathise. I thought I'd be cheering and go crazy happy too but instead I felt a little 'meh'. Then the feeling continued for another week and I was so down.

    Here's to your speedy recovery Emma and plenty of cake (so glad you enjoyed it!). Happy belated birthday! xx

  7. Elly - thanks. I will get around to emailing you soon, sorry!

    Bénédicte - thank you. Chocolate and sour cream go really well, you should try it out :)

    Asta - how exciting! I think literature and baking go well together :) Thank you for your kind words.

    elle marie - thank you. It's a great cake, you should try it out.

    Maria - thank you! I'm glad you find them inspiring.

    Karen - It's a difficult time with so many big changes. But starting to feel more myself now. Thank you for your kind words and for the great recipe!

  8. I have that bundt pan too! It's so geometrically beautiful isnt it?

  9. Guess this is King's Cake.)) Vanessa you are right. Probably she have architectural education too!!!!!

  10. Hi Emma, I have just baked this cake and it cracked quiet a bit and also rose in the middle ( I used the bundt tin). I then realised I had forgotten to add the light brown sugar. I remembered the caster sugar. Do you think it is still worth while icing it or should I bin it and start again? Thanks.

  11. poiresauchocolat12 March 2013 at 08:36

    So sorry I missed this at the time - it slipped under the net. What did you do in the end? It does rise and crack a bit (you can just about see both in the 2nd photo).

  12. I did ice it in the end and took it into work and people liked it. It did suffer from me forgetting half the sugar but was still edible, I think the icing helped make up for the lack of sweetness in the cake. I found the crumb/texture rather sense. I looked closely at your photos and my texture definitely differs from yours. Would this be down to the missing sugar and the fact that I have been using medium sized eggs for your recipes? Or just poor technique - probably more likely! Not sure I will make it again, I going back to the Toscakaka which I adore but will use brown butter this time and also the correct size of tin, I have now written out my list of your recipes I want to try and I am going to be busy for several months. Thanks very much for inspiring me.

  13. poiresauchocolat12 March 2013 at 14:06

    It could be the sugar and eggs. Is your baking powder fresh? That can make a difference - it only lasts six months or so. (To check it, put a teaspoon into a mug and pour boiling water over it - it should immediately start to react and fill the mug with a white foam that fizzes.) I'm so pleased you're enjoying making the recipes - it's really lovely to hear.

  14. carol postlethwaite1 March 2014 at 08:26

    Now the proud possessor of more Nordic Ware so have made this again with minor addition of 4 balls of stem ginger whizzed in. Perfect result and my tasting team (junior Drs on my night shift) declare it the best cake they've had all year. Yay !

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  19. I used this recipe yesterday to make some cupcakes for some little people, and it was fantastic! Very child-appropriate in chocolatiness and sweetness. Thanks Emma for another lovely recipe.


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