Sour cream is one of my favorite ingredients to use in baking, but unfortunately it is not readily available in many countries, and I am constantly asked for a sour cream substitute. The good news is that it is very easy to make homemade sour cream! It needs no work, only a little patience, and the result is just as good as store-bought sour cream.
- WHAT IS SOUR CREAM?
- WHAT ARE THE PROPERTIES OF SOUR CREAM?
- WHY IS SOUR CREAM USED IN BAKING?
- SOUR CREAM VS BUTTERMILK IN CAKES
- VIDEO TUTORIAL ON MAKING HOMEMADE SOUR CREAM
- HOW TO MAKE QUICK HOMEMADE SOUR CREAM
- BAKING RECIPES USING SOUR CREAM
- HOW TO USE UP SOUR CREAM BEYOND BAKING
- EASY HOMEMADE SOUR CREAM RECIPE
WHAT IS SOUR CREAM?
Sour cream is a versatile dairy product that adds a rich and tangy flavor to a variety of dishes. It is made by fermenting regular cream with lactic acid bacteria, which thickens and sours the cream. The result is a smooth and creamy texture with a distinctive tanginess that enhances both sweet and savory recipes. It is a popular ingredient in dips, dressings, and many types of desserts such as cakes, cheesecakes, and even cookies.
WHAT ARE THE PROPERTIES OF SOUR CREAM?
Let's quickly go over the properties of sour cream:
- It has a tangy, acidic flavor. Like its name suggest, sour cream tastes sour
- It is thick. Unlike heavy cream or whipping cream, sour cream has a thicker consistency closer to yogurt (but not quite as thick)
- It is rich and full of fat. In fact, sour cream is one of the fattiest dairy products. This is actually a great thing for baking!
WHY IS SOUR CREAM USED IN BAKING?
Sour cream is often used in many different desserts and bakes - most commonly, you will find it in cakes, muffins, cheesecakes and scones. The question then becomes: why is sour cream used in baking?
Sour cream serves many different purposes in baking - I truly consider it to be a magic ingredient! Let's go over its purposes one by one:
- It acts as a raising agent. Baking soda reacts with acid, which is found in ingredients such as citrus fruits, buttermilk and sour cream. This is actually one of the most important roles of sour cream - it reacts with baking soda in cake batters, allowing the cakes to rise more and have a light and more tender texture!
- It adds richness and moisture. Because sour cream has a high fat content, it makes cakes and other baked goods richer and more moist. Imagine a cake without butter or oil - it will be dry and spongey. That's because of the fat in those ingredients. Sour cream is a great way to add more fat without making cakes too oily or heavy.
- It helps balance the flavor. While sour cream has a very subtle flavor, the little acidity / sourness can help balance the flavor of desserts, rounding out their sweetness beautifully. This is the main reason sour cream is added to cheesecakes!
SOUR CREAM VS BUTTERMILK IN CAKES
While both sour cream and buttermilk react with baking soda to help cakes rise, sour cream has two advantages over buttermilk:
- It has a higher fat content, and adds more richness and moisture to a cake than buttermilk
- It is much thicker, with a very similar consistency as cake batter. This means you can add more sour cream without making the cake batter too runny, which will happen with buttermilk!
This is why, even though buttermilk has similar properties as sour cream (it is a dairy product, has fat in it, and is acidic) and is easier to make or find, I prefer using sour cream in my recipes.
VIDEO TUTORIAL ON MAKING HOMEMADE SOUR CREAM
HOW TO MAKE QUICK HOMEMADE SOUR CREAM
This recipe for proper homemade sour cream requires resting for 1 day. If you are in a time crunch and don't have sour cream already prepared, you can make a quick version by mixing 2 cups of heavy cream with 4 tablespoon of yogurt, and whipping until the mixture reaches a thick consistency.
This will work in a crunch, but otherwise use the full recipe provided at the end of this post for best results!
BAKING RECIPES USING SOUR CREAM
There are countless baking recipes that use sour cream! Here are a few great ones from my blog for you to try:
Lemon and citrus cake recipes
Other cake recipes
HOW TO USE UP SOUR CREAM BEYOND BAKING
There are so many different ways you can use sour cream in your kitchen! Here are a few ideas:
- Creamy Dips and Sauces:
- Whip up a tangy dip by mixing sour cream with herbs and spices, perfect for veggies or chips
- Make a sauce with sour cream, garlic, lemon juice, and your favorite herbs, and drizzle over grilled meats or roasted vegetables
- Savory Toppings:
- Use sour cream as a topping for baked potatoes, tacos, nachos or chili. Its creamy texture and tangy flavor complement these dishes beautifully, especially with Mexican and Mediterranean flavors
- Dollop sour cream on soups or stews for a cooling contrast to the warmth of the broth
- Creamy Salad Dressings:
- Create a creamy salad dressing by combining sour cream with herbs, mustard, and a touch of vinegar
- Marinades and Rubs:
- Use sour cream as a base for marinades, especially for chicken or fish. The acidity helps tenderize the meat while adding flavor
- Creamy Pasta Sauces:
- Enhance your pasta dishes by incorporating sour cream into creamy sauces. Combine it with Parmesan cheese and herbs for a delectable pasta topping
- Smoothies and Shakes:
- Add a creamy element to your smoothies or shakes by blending in sour cream. It pairs well with fruits and adds a unique twist to your beverage