Sour Note

Sour cream, sometimes called smetana, is believed to have originated with the Mongols who were mostly lactose-intolerant. While they did not use that fancy terminology, they did know that adding bacteria to milk and letting it ferment broke down its components and allowed them to enjoy this farm staple. Over the years their knowledge spread to Eastern Europe, where people began using the same type of bacteria in cream to prolong its life and thicken it. By the early 1900s, sour cream as we know it was a culinary staple in countries like Ukraine and Hungary.

Sour cream is used in both sweet and savory dishes. It can be used to make dips and sauces. It is often blended into soup. And it gives baked goods a moist and tangy taste that cannot be achieved with substitutes.

Cinnamon Sour Cream Bundt Cake

2 eggs

1 1/2 sticks butter at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 cup sour cream

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping:

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup cinnamon chips (available at The Peppermill)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray a 10-cup Bundt pan with flour and oil spray.

In your mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined. Mixture may appear curdled — not to worry, it will become smooth once the dry ingredients are added.

Sift dry ingredients together. Alternate adding dry ingredients and sour cream to the cake batter. Mix briefly after each addition.

In a separate bowl, mix topping ingredients. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the topping into the Bundt pan. Spread half the batter into Bundt pan, add 1/2 cup of the topping, and then add remaining batter. Sprinkle the rest of topping mixture on top of the batter.

Bake for 45–50 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool.

Smetana Cake

Streusel Topping:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup flour

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 ground nutmeg

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened

1/2 cup chopped pecans

For the cake:

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1–2 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Line with parchment, grease again, and dust with flour.

Make the streusel: Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cut in the butter to resemble coarse crumbs. Stir in the nuts.

Make the batter: Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Blend in the sour cream and vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture.

Spread half of the batter in the prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of the streusel. Carefully cover with the remaining batter and sprinkle with the remaining streusel.

Bake until the cake is golden, about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes.

Make the glaze: Stir together confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract and milk to make a thick but pourable glaze.

Remove the cake from the pan and place on a platter or cooling rack. Drizzle glaze over the cake and serve.

Store at room temperature for up to two days or in the freezer for up to three months.

Tip: Avoid storing baked goods containing sour cream in foil pans. The aluminum reacts to the sour ingredients and imparts a strange taste.