Sour Cream Cake with Cocoa Filling

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

The double glaze on this cake adds a complexity of flavors and shows off its contours. For years I wondered how pastry shops produced such a shiny, translucent finish. The technique I finally learned from a Swiss baker is included in this recipe, but you can use it on any cake you wish to glaze.

NotesStoring the Cake: Serve at room temperature (no refrigeration is necessary). The cake freezes well, but unfortunately, the glaze does not.

Baking in a decorative tube pan causes the cocoa filling to create a pleasing swirling design on the cake’s exterior.

It is important to have the glaze ready when the cake is finished baking because the glistening effect is made by the heat of the cake as it cools.

Incidentally, an 8-ounce container of sour cream is ¾ cup.

Makes12 to 14 servings

Cooking Methodbaking


Total Timeunder 2 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursedessert

Dietary Considerationhalal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian

Equipmentelectric mixer

Mealbrunch, dinner, tea

Taste and Texturebuttery, creamy, fruity, spiced, sweet, tart

Type of Dishcake


  • 1 cup (50 grams) brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2¾ cups (275 grams) sifted cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 ounces (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1½ cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
  • 8 ounces (¾ cup) sour cream, room temperature
  • ½ cup strained apricot jam
  • 1 recipe translucent sugar glaze
  • One 10-inch Bundt pan or other 12-cup decorative tube pan


  1. Baking Preparations: Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat oven to 350°F.

  2. Using a paper towel, generously grease the bottom and sides of a decorative tube pan with solid shortening. Dust generously with all-purpose flour, shake to distribute, and tap out excess.

  3. Making the Filling: Pour the brown sugar, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, cocoa, and cinnamon in that order into a sieve over a 1-quart mixing bowl. Press through the sieve with the back of a spoon and set aside.

  4. Ingredient Preparations: Pour the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in that order into a triple sifter. Sift onto a sheet of waxed paper to distribute the ingredients evenly and to remove any lumps in the flour; set aside.

  5. Crack the eggs into a small bowl, and whisk just to combine yolks and whites. Add the vanilla; stir to blend.

  6. Place the butter in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer.

  7. Making the Cake: With the flat beater (paddle), cream the butter on medium speed (#5) until it is lighter in color, clings to the sides of the mixing bowl, and has a satiny appearance (about 30 to 45 seconds).

  8. Maintaining the same speed, add the 1½ cups sugar in a steady stream. When all the sugar is added, stop the machine and scrape the mixture clinging to the sides into the center of the bowl. Continue to cream at the same speed, or until the mixture is very light in color and fluffy in appearance (about 4 to 5 minutes).

  9. With the mixer still on medium speed, pour in the egg mixture, cautiously at first, tablespoon by tablespoon, as if you were adding oil when making mayonnaise. If at any time the mixture appears watery or shiny, stop the flow of eggs and increase the speed until a smooth, silken appearance returns. Then decrease to medium speed again, and resume adding eggs.

  10. Continue to cream, stopping the mixer and scraping the sides of the bowl at least once. When the mixture appears fluffy white and velvety and has increased in volume (2 to 3 minutes total from the time you began adding the eggs), detach the beater and bowl. Tap the beater against the edge of the bowl to free the excess. Using a rubber spatula, stir in one-third of the flour mixture. Then add one-half of the sour cream, stirring to blend together. Repeat this procedure, alternating dry and liquid ingredients, ending with the flour. With each addition scrape the sides of the bowl often, and mix until smooth.

  11. Baking the Cake: Spoon one-third of the thick batter into the decorative tube pan. Using a rubber spatula, distribute the batter evenly around the bottom. Sprinkle one half of the cocoa filling over the top, shaking the pan lightly to distribute the mixture evenly. (Do not be concerned if some of the filling clings to the outside rim of the pan.) Repeat with another third of the batter, distributing it evenly and smoothly. Sprinkle on the last half of the filling and add the final third of the batter. Spread the batter evenly and level it again.

  12. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until the top springs back slightly when lightly touched, the sides begin to contract from the pan, and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out free of cake.

  13. Making the Glazes: Fifteen minutes before the cake is finished baking, begin glaze preparation. Spoon the strained apricot jam into a 1-quart saucepan. Measure the sugar for Translucent Sugar Glaze, and sift into a 1-quart mixing bowl to remove any lumps.

  14. Finishing the Cake: Place the cake on a rack to cool for 5 to 7 minutes. While it is cooling, heat the jam just to simmering, and cook to evaporate some of its liquid and thicken it (about 2 to 3 minutes). Do not overcook. When cool, the consistency should not be as chewy as caramel candy. To test, put a drop of jam, which has been simmering a minute, on an ice cube. Then rub the jam between your thumb and forefinger to feel its consistency. (Different brands of jam produce different results, and you should retest if you use a different brand.)

  15. With mitts, tilt and rotate the pan, and gently tap it on the counter to see if the cake is releasing from the metal sides. If not, or if in doubt, run a small metal spatula or the thin blade of a table knife between the outer cake edge and the metal rim, freeing the sides and allowing air to get under the cake as it is rotated.

  16. Place a rack over the cake pan, invert it onto the rack, and carefully lift the pan to remove. Place the cake on its rack over a sheet of foil or waxed paper to catch the glaze’s drippings. Coat the cake’s surface with the hot apricot glaze, using a pastry brush. Wait for 5 minutes, so the glaze will adhere to the hot cake, before you apply the next glaze; otherwise, the two merely mix together.

  17. Now make Translucent Sugar Glaze. Using another pastry brush, cover the apricot-glazed cake with it. If the coating is too thick, appearing opaque rather than translucent, stir in a few drops of water at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. Use all the glaze and cover the entire cake. As the cake cools, the glaze will dry.

  18. Cooling the Cake: For prettiest results, do not move the glazed cake to a serving plate for several hours. Giving it time to cool completely allows the glazes to dry and prevents cracking.

  19. To move the cake from its rack to a serving plate, slip two long metal icing spatulas under it, crisscross them, and lift.


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Can I use Plain sugar instead of brown sugar for the filling?Cause I don't have brown sugar for now.


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