I’m starting out 2013 with the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had: a chocolate sour cream cake with chocolate buttercream frosting from Philadelphia’s famed Brown Betty Bakery. While this cake is a pretty great way to start off the new year, I must admit, it’s not what I had in mind. See the new header up top? I was planning on rolling out all these great new design changes (things like a new background, new buttons, and a new color scheme to match the brand new header), only to have Blogger’s template designer simply… not work. That is, clicking the “Apply Changes [to Blog]” button doesn’t register any at all. After researching the issues, it seems like this is a bug that’s been around since July 2012. Shame on you Blogger (or, more specifically, Google) for not getting this fixed! Are any other bloggers out there experiencing this issue too? If so, how’d you get around it?
But enough, I won’t bore you with my blogger issues. If you stuck around during the holidays and read my roundup posts, you’ll know that I critiqued some of my favorite recipes and least favorite recipes in 2012. As I was writing the lookback, I realized that a lot of my favorite recipes came from cookbooks. As much as I love food blogs, I realized I missed having a solid, reliable cookbook to rely on, that had unfussy recipes and used simple ingredients.


At the end of the day, this blog started out with my attempt to bake through The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. While The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook is great and has all those qualities I described, it consists primarily of cupcakes and not a whole lot else. Especially not any cake recipes. Which is problematic, since people are always asking me to make cakes for housewarmings, baby showers, and other party-type events. So it’s about time I find a good cake book to rely on.

I found out about the Brown Betty Bakery simply by googling “best red velvet cake recipes”. Over and over again, folks kept referring to the Brown Betty Bakery in Philadelphia, and applauding the small bakery’s recently-released cookbook. Reading about the bakery’s origins, I was hooked — it turns out that the bakery is run by a tight-knit family who passed the recipes down from generation to generation. So I rolled up my sleeves and decided to try their recipe for chocolate sour cream cake…



To great success!
According to the cookbook, this recipe is their take on chocolate diner cake. Do you guys know the kind of diner cake I’m talking about? In almost every classic diner, a cake stand or glass dome along the diner’s bar holds the moistest, fluffiest chocolate cake I’ve ever eaten. I don’t know what makes diner cake so good, but it’s honestly the best out there. I’ve always tried to recreate it at home with little success — until now.



This cake is so incredibly delicious that I ate a quarter of it in one sitting. The frosting, good lord, the FROSTING is the best chocolate frosting I’ve ever had in my life. The secret? A little bit of cream cheese goes a long way. That’s the secret all those professional bakers are holding back from you. Behind every great buttercream recipe is some cream cheese frosting.
The cake itself is nothing to forget either. The Brown Betty Bakery uses pound cake recipes for almost all their cakes. Pound cakes differentiate themselves from regular cakes by using more egg in the batter, resulting in a denser and more substantial crumb. The Brown Betty Bakery however, manages to add some of that fudgey gooeyness we all know and love in this cake by instructing you to cut the cake into four petite layers:



And spreading a cup of that amazing frosting between each layer. According to the cookbook, this creates a more evenly divided cake to buttercream ratio that’s responsible for that a gooey, fudgy chocolate cake.
And so begins my love affair with the Brown Betty Bakery. Maybe I’ll spend January baking through their cookbook. Or finally go see my brother in Philadelphia to get a taste of the real thing. In any case, expect to see more recipes from the Brown Betty Cookbook in the near future. I’m sure this cake is just the start of more great things to come.

Get the Recipe: The Brown Betty Bakery’s Chocolate Sour Cream Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

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For the Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

  • 3/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons cocoa powder (equal parts unsweetened cocoa powder and Dutch-processed, meaning that you should use 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons natural cocoa powder and another 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons of Dutched cocoa powder)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup water, boiling

For the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

    (makes 6 cups, or enough for one 9-inch cake)

    • 6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
    • 7 cups confectioner’s sugar
    • 3 to 6 tablespoons whole milk, at room temperature


    For the Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

    • Preheat the oven to 350 (F). Coat two 9-inch round pans with nonstick cooking spray, and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.
    • In a medium bowl, mix together 3/4 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks, and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla until smooth.
    • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together 2 1/4 cups cake flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar on low speed just until blended.
    • Add 1 cup unsalted butter and half of the cocoa mixture (from the second step) to the flour mixture (from the third step) and beat until the dry ingredients are moist.
    • Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the remaining cocoa mixture in 2 batches, beating well after each addition. Add 1/2 cup boiling water and beat until smooth.
    • Divide the batter equally between the prepared pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula. Bake until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Remove the parchment paper.

    For the Chocolate Buttercream

    • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat 6 ounces cream cheese and 4 teaspoons vanilla together on low speed until smooth. Increase the mixer speed to high. Add 1 cup butter and beat until incorporated, using a rubber spatula to scrape the bowl as necessary, about 1 minute.
    • Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in 1 cup cocoa powder and 1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup. Add 7 cups confectioners’ sugar and beat until blended. Add 3 to 6 tablespoons of whole milk, one tablespoon at a time, beating until the buttercream achieves a spreadable consistency. Set aside until ready to use.

    Putting It All Together

    • When the cake is completely cooled, use a large serrated knife to cut each of the 2 layers in half to make 4 thin layers in total.
    • Place the first layer on a cake plate, and use an offset spatula to spread 1 cup of buttercream on top. Repeat with the next 2 layers.
    • Place the final cake layer on top and spread the remaining buttercream on the top and sides of the cake.


    Did you make this recipe?Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!