Chocolate Sour Cream Cake (Doctored Cake Mix)

Chocolate Sour Cream Cake  (Much like the White Almond Sour Cream Cake)

This cake has a nice mild chocolate flavor, and is dense enough to work well with carved cakes.  However, if you have  a lot of intricate carving to do, the “Durable Recipe” in the Recipe section is probably the best bet.   Enjoy!

** For a deeper chocolate taste you can add 1 tablespoon cocoa powder and replace the water with 1 cup strong brewed or instant coffee.

1 Devil’s Food cake mix
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sour cream

1 cup water  (we usually replace the water with 1 cup brewed or instant coffee,  it enhances the chocolate flavor)

3 whole eggs

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla


    Combine dry ingredients and stir.  In mixing bowl, combine sour cream, water, eggs, & flavorings. Add about 1/2 of the dry ingredients and blend together, then add the rest of the dry ingredients & mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Pour into prepared pans and bake as at 325 degrees until middle of cake springs back when touched.


Category: Cakes and Cupcakes, Recipes


  1. Claudias yummycakes says: #1

    Can this cake be covered in fondant or is it to Dense.

  2. Melissa Diamond says: #2

    Yes, it will be fine!

  3. Mary Piper says: #3

    I use this recipe too except I use strong coffee instead of water!! Makes such a big difference!

  4. coolpunkamy says: #4

    @Mary Piper – Thanks for the suggestion! I’m going to try that!

  5. TeaPartyGirl says: #5

    Would I be able to get 2 9 inch rounds out of this recipe?

  6. daniandbrandi says: #6

    I just got a 9×13 out of it; so, you should certainly get 2 9-inch rounds out of it! Good luck! Thanks for the coffee idea Mary Piper! That sounds fantastic!

  7. Sherry Baird says: #7

    Is there a recipe for White almond sour cream cake ?

  8. Kane93 says: #8

    Melissa or BeBe,
    2 questions, can this recipe be used for Cupcakes and If I don’t have Pilsbury or Betty Crocker, but Duncan Hines, do you suggest adding a small box of instant pudding to the dry ingredients? I usually use your other chocolate cake recipe (the one with 2 tbsp of mayo) and it is good, but I would like maybe a cake with a little bit “more” to it.
    Thank you! Teresa King

  9. BeBe says: #9

    Hi Ansa, it won’t be quite enough. I think the above recipe makes 7 1/2 – 8 cups batter and you will need 11 to 12 cups batter for a 11 x 16 pan. You will have leftover batter to make cupcakes or a layer that you can freeze for later use.

    I base this on the Party Cake Baking Time and Batter Amounts that you will find at

  10. kate825 says: #10

    Should there be oil in this recipe?

  11. Melissa Diamond says: #11

    Hi Kate–no, there is no oil in this recipe…the sour cream keeps it moist. However, I’ve seen some white almond sour cream recipes with a slight variation that do contain a very small amount of oil. This one has worked well for us though!

  12. Lataisha Young says: #12

    Thank Melissa this cake may work for

  13. Lataisha Young says: #13

    Thank Melissa this cake may work for Me how many cupcakes will this make

  14. BeBe says: #14

    Hi Lataisha, I’m not quite sure but it is more than 2 dozen

  15. Lori Allen says: #15

    I am making a topsy turvy marigras cake for my daughter’s 21st Birthday and made 2 layers using the White sour cream cake and 1 layer using the Chocolate sour cream cake. They came out great! I had enough batter left to make a few cupcakes to taste test with and it was amazing. Can’t wait to make your Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream recipe. I am tinting it green, gold and purple for the marigras theme. Fun, Fun. I really love your site.

  16. D says: #16

    Does this cake rise much? Should I fill cupcake papers 2/3 full, more of less? Thanks, can’t wait to try it.

  17. Nicole Smith says: #17

    I just made this recipe into cupcakes. I filled them half full and I got three dozen out of them. My kitchen smells amazing and I can’t wait to pump these babies full of peanut butter buttercream tomorrow!

  18. leera cynthia says: #18

    What would be the total weight of the cake using this mix?

  19. Melissa Diamond says: #19

    Hi Leera, I’m not sure I am understanding your question, but we have never weighed the cake.

  20. Genelle Grant says: #20

    i love the white almond sour cream cake…just looked in my pantry and realised I only have betty crocker vanilla mix…but I need to make chocolate…could I just add some cacoa powder to the vanilla mix to make the chocolate ????


  21. BeBe says: #21

    Hi Genelle, we have added cocoa powder to make a marbled effect, but not for a whole cake, so I’m not sure. There are recipes that add cho. pudding mix and sour cream to a white or yellow mix. That recipe is not in our recipe section and I’m sorry we are away from our recipe box this week (annual family vacation). You might want to post in the forum to see if a member has an answer.

  22. irma ornelas says: #22

    en la receta al traducirla al español me sale 1 tza de azucar granulada guion generosa de sal. me confundi es una tza de azucar granulada mas una cuchara de sal o es azucar con apariencia de sal?

  23. BeBe says: #23

    Hi Irma, I changed the recipe to read 1/4 teaspoon salt. Does that help with your question. I am not sure if I was reading it correctly.

  24. leera cynthia says: #24

    Can i use betty c cake mix instead of devils in this recipe to make a carving like the train spiral cake.

  25. viri says: #25

    such a great recipie !!! I try it for a taste consultation and they love it! thanks Melissa :)

  26. BeBe says: #26

    Hi Viri, thanks for letting us know. I’m glad your customer liked it!

  27. Martha LeGall says: #27

    Well, I love the WASC cake so I’m giving this one a go. I don’t have devils food cake mix on hand so I am using dark chocolate fudge, I am replacing the water with 3/4 cup strong coffee and 1/4 cup dark rum. I also added 1/4 cup Cocoa powder to the dry ingredients. Fingers crossed. Wish me luck.

  28. BeBe says: #28

    Good Luck, let us know how it is with rum.

  29. Rachel.Nicole says: #29

    Every Cake I made with this recipe fell in the middle. Has this happened for anyone else?

  30. fancypants says: #30

    Hi Melissa & Bebe,

    I really like the deeper flavor of DH Dark Chocolate Fudge cake mix. Do you think that if I substitute it for the devil’s food mix in this recipe, I will still end up with a cake that will hold up under fondant?

  31. BeBe says: #31

    Hi fancypants, I haven’t tried it but I think it should be fine.

  32. fancypants says: #32

    I tried the substitution tonight. In addition to the dark chocolate fudge cake mix, I added a tbsp of dutch processed cocoa powder and replaced the water with coffee. Delicious!

    To Rachel Nicole: I made this recipe yesterday & had that same problem of sinking in the middle. I used the flower nail method tonight and it worked like a charm! If you aren’t familiar with the method, you can find instructions here: link to
    Good luck!

  33. irma ornelas says: #33

    hola deseo la que el pastel sea mas humedo puedo ayadir mas crema y que cantidad

  34. HollyLE says: #34

    Hi Melissa and Bebe!
    Love your website! I’ve only been a member for a couple of days and have already learned so much. God bless, great job and much success to you both!

    Though I prefer to make all of my cupcakes and cakes from scratch, this is very similar to a White Cake recipe I used (and LOVED). I’m thinking I’ll try this one for a birthday cake I’m making this weekend.

    I don’t have any problems with using modified recipes that include boxed mixes on occasion. I do find cakes from scratch challenge the creative nature in me and there’s no limit to the flavor combinations, that what I enjoy the most.

    My main reason for joining your page is to learn how to create flowers out of gumpaste. I’ve just ordered the orchid cutters…can’t wait to receive them! Peonies are next! Do you have any suggestion on the best place to order supplies on the web?

    Thanks again and Happy Baking!

  35. BeBe says: #35

    Hi Holly, we often order from

  36. carolina bass says: #36

    can i use Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines instead of the Devil Food Cake mix? or does it have to be Devil Food Cake mix? Thank you!

  37. BeBe says: #37

    Hi Carolina, yes, Duncan Hines Devils Food or Betty Crocker. Devils Food means it is a chocolate cake mix.

  38. lateen baqays says: #38

    can I replace Sour Cream with buttermilk

  39. Martha LeGall says: #39

    Hi BeBe the rum addition was a-mazing with cookies and cream filling. Tonight I am making with grand marnier instead of rum.

  40. Paula M. says: #40

    I made this recipe today. Added 1 tbsp of cocoa and 1 cup of strong coffee. I filled the paper cupcake liners around 1/2 full and the recipe made 36 cupcakes. They do rise, so I would not exceed 1/2 full of batter. The flavor was nice and chocolaty with a medium chocolate color. Not too dense and not too soft. Very good..I would think they would take the weight of buttercream well (I like to make mine tall..), or dipped in ganache…or filled with something wonderful..:-)

  41. BeBe says: #41

    Hi Paula, thanks for making your post ………good to know.

  42. Brenda Soltis says: #42

    Hi Melissa, Bebe and everyone! Just wanted to let you know that I just made a double batch of this recipe and it turned out fantastic! I simply doubled everything using coffee instead of water and I added 1/4 c. cocoa powder. I got 1-9×3″ round, 1-9×2 round and 48 mini cupcakes out of the double batch. The cakes came out more level than ever and the texture is wonderful. Thanks for the recipe!

  43. Melissa Diamond says: #43

    Great, Brenda! Thanks so much for your feedback!

  44. Analia Machado says: #44

    Hi Melissa, I can replace the all purpose flour with cake flour, and what is the difference with the texture, Thank you!

  45. BeBe says: #45

    Hi Analia, I have not tried that in this recipe but I think it would be fine. Cake flour has less gluten so it will make your cake more tender.

  46. amber rowland says: #46

    what size cake mix box? there are some that are 15oz, 16.5oz, and 18.25oz
    does it matter?

  47. BeBe says: #47

    Hi Amber, when we posted this recipe we used Pillsbury mix that was 18.25 oz. The same mix is now 15.25 oz. We contacted customer service at Pillsbury and was told that the mix had been reformulated and should still work with most recipes. I think for this particular brand the batter is thicker so sometimes I add a bit more water (1/4 cup), otherwise I don’t make any changes. You should use whichever brand cake mix that is your favorite.

  48. amber rowland says: #48

    Great thanks so much!! I have found an 18.25 oz mix that is Kroger brand and it’s only $1.00 per box!! It has worked very well with my other doctored cake mix and it’s delicious!!

  49. Jodie Delapp says: #49

    I was wondering if I need to sift the cake mix. The WASC recipe says to, so I wasn’t sure about this one. Thanks!

  50. BeBe says: #50

    Hi Jodie, yes anytime there is a cake mix in the recipe we sift it.

  51. Fran Gentile says: #51

    Has anyone used instant espresso to make the strong coffee?

  52. BeBe says: #52

    Hi Fran, I think it would be fine to use instant espresso

  53. Fran Gentile says: #53

    Thank you, BeBe!

  54. Amy Draper says: #54

    I made this cake using Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge cake mix. OMGoodness YUMMY YUMMY YUMMY!!! I added 1 TBLS cocoa powder because I love a rich chocolate cake and it was delicious!! Perfect chocolate cake.

  55. BeBe says: #55

    Hi Amy, that is great, thanks for posting!

  56. Fran Gentile says: #56

    I would like to make 2 – 8″ rounds. How much batter do you recommend I use in each pan?

  57. BeBe says: #57

    Hi Fran, I usually fill my pans about 2/3’s full, that is probably around 3 cups.

    You might like to look at this Wilton chart, link to

  58. Fran Gentile says: #58

    Thank you!

  59. tamiblake says: #59

    Have you ever used this recipe with a red velvet cake mix?

  60. Krislyn Porter says: #60

    Hi Melissa and BeBe,
    I know this has nothing to do with this post, but I also knew that if I wanted an accurate answer you guys would be the people to ask! How long do frosted cupcakes stay fresh, in an airtight container? If that isn’t the best way to keep them, then what do you recommend, I would rather not have to freeze them.
    Thank You!!

  61. Deanna Kieliszek says: #61

    Want to make this in a clear glass bowl for a r2d2 head but can never figure out the right timing? How long would you suggest baking this in clear glass bowl and on same temp? Thanks,Deanna

  62. BeBe says: #62

    Hi Deanna, If I am baking in an ovenproof glass bowl I bake at 325 degrees. It is deeper than your typical cake pan so it does take longer for the cake to be done in the center. After about 30 to 40 minutes, you might need to cover the top with aluminum foil to prevent it from getting too dark. Also, you could grease and flour a rose nail and put in the center to promote faster baking.

  63. Sandra Slouha says: #63

    Hi Bebe:

    I did this recipe, but I was told that it was a bit dense and heavy but good, I was wondering can I use a tablespoon of Baking powder? also I added milk chocolate chips and mini chocolate chips and OMG it taste awesome :)

  64. BeBe says: #64

    Hi Sandra, I have never added baking powder when using a cake mix so I am not sure. Please let know if you give it a try.

  65. Lauren Couts says: #65

    Does this cake hold up well under fondant?

  66. BeBe says: #66

    Hi Lauren, yes, you can use fondant on this cake.

  67. amy212 says: #67

    Hi! Can I use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream? Thanks!

  68. BeBe says: #68

    Hi Amy, I have not tried using Greek yogurt but I think it would be fine to do so.

  69. Amy Levine says: #69

    I have made a similar recipe that I love. It holds up to buttercream, stacking and fondant. Add 1 TBSP powdered espresso to the warm water (or use strong coffee). Add 1 pkg instant pudding mix. Instead of 1c flour, use 2/3c flour and 1/3 c cocoa. If you want it to be even more wonderful, dust 1c choc chips w flour (to keep from sinking), and stir in at the end. The cake usually comes out pretty level (I always use bake strips), and although it’s moist, it’s pretty sturdy. The chocolate chips can make carving/cutting a little messier, but it’s great for cupcakes or basic tier.

  70. Trina Treiber says: #70

    when covering a chocolate cake with fondant should I use chocolate buttercream or just regular buttercream? It seems the chocolate might show through the fondant.

  71. BeBe says: #71

    Hi Trina, If the fondant is not rolled too thin, it might be fine, but to be on the safe side I would use a light color of buttercream under the fondant.

  72. Sandra Collins says: #72

    Does this recipe do well with carving?

  73. BeBe says: #73

    Hi Sandra, you will be able to do light carving with this recipe. For a topsy turvy cake that requires much more carving, I would use the Durable recipe link to

  74. JOAN HUMES says: #74

    Why didn’t you use vegetable oil in this cake? Is it because of the oil in the chocolate?

  75. Melissa Diamond says: #75

    Hi Joan, this is just always the way we’ve made it– If you’d rather use a little oil, you can add 2 tablespoons of oil to the recipe. We’ve tried it this way also but couldn’t really tell a difference. ;0)

  76. Ruth Baker says: #76

    Hi Melissa
    I made this recipe twice now. The cake and cupcakes sunk in the middle really bad. Not just a little – a lot. Any idea of why that might have happened. Thought maybe the first time I did something wrong, however, it happened the second time I used it as well. Thanks. Ruth

  77. BeBe says: #77

    Hi Ruth, I am sorry you had a problem. These are some possible causes, oven temperature not accurate. It would be a good idea to buy an oven thermometer, I think you can find one at hardware stores. I have also seen them at Bed Bath and Beyond, if one is in your area. Make sure that the oven is pre-heated before putting in the cake pans. Do not oven the oven door until the baking time is near the end. Make sure your baking powder is not out of date (though this does not apply to this recipe, it is good to know). When making this recipe, you did not add the ingredients on the cake mix box in addition to the ingredients listed…..right? Let me know if you think any of these suggestions might help

  78. Ruth Baker says: #78

    Thanks BeBe
    I made a 16 x 16 cake last night with the recipe and followed your suggestions on making sure the oven was at the correct temp and did not open the door until the time had expired. No, I did not add the box instruction ingredients. I do have an in oven thermometer. I did get a different sour cream. I noted that one I was using was pretty thin. I bought a really thick one. The cake turned out GREAT!! I did use 4 flower nails in the center because it was so big. Thanks a bunch. I love this recipe now.

  79. BeBe says: #79

    Hi Ruthie, I’m happy you solved the problem, it could have been the watery sour cream. Using the flower nails in the large pan did help distribute the heat for more even baking. Thank you so much for posting your experience, I’m sure it will help other members.

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