Rich and acidic in nature, this semi-liquid acts as a fat to produce moist, tender textures in cakes and pastries. Acids tenderize baked goods by breaking down long, stringy protein molecules into smaller pieces. Gluten – a major ingredient in flour – is a protein, so acidic ingredients like sour cream are ideal for tender results.
Sour cream is cultured or acidified light cream. Cultured sour cream, which is the more common type, is soured and thickened by the lactic acid produced by a specific bacterial culture. Acidified sour cream is soured and thickened by the direct addition of an acid, such as vinegar.
- You can prevent curdling when using sour cream in hot dishes by adding the sour cream as late as possible during preparation, heating gradually and stirring gently.
- If separation occurs in sour cream while it’s in its container, you can gently stir the liquid back into the cream.
The milkfat content of sour cream products depends on the milkfat content of the milk or cream from which they are made. Sour cream comes in 8-, 16- and 32-ounce containers.
Regular Sour Cream
Regular Sour Cream is made from light cream and contains no less than 18 percent milkfat.
Reduced-Fat Sour Cream
Reduced-Fat Sour Cream must contain at least 25 percent less milkfat than regular sour cream, though many on the market contain 40 percent less.
Nonfat Sour Cream
Nonfat Sour Cream contains no more than 0.5 grams milkfat per serving and includes stabilizers as thickening agents.
- Reduced-fat sour cream is a fine substitute for the regular variety; however, the nonfat form is not suitable for excellent results in baking.
- Whole milk yogurt can be substituted for sour cream.
- Substituting buttermilk for sour cream may create a thinner batter or softer dough, but it should not affect thebaked results.
- For a simple dessert, dip fresh strawberries and grapes into sour cream, then brown sugar.
- Whisk sour cream with an equal amount of heavy cream to produce a substitute for crème fraîche; refrigerate until well chilled.