Norwegian Gold Cake with Sour Cream Ganache

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These Norwegian Gold cupcakes (or cake!) with sour cream ganache frosting have been in our family since I can remember. They’re my go-to for my own birthday and that of our newly minted teenager. 

Norwegian Gold Cake (or Cupcakes) with Sour Cream Ganache 780 | Umami Girl-2


The unusual mixing method (creaming butter and flour together for a full five minutes!) produces a cupcake with substance, almost reminiscent of pound cake.

The most spectacular cake recipe

These cupcakes come all the way from Norway and are made of solid gold. Okay, no, those are lies. But the recipe has shepherded our family through an average of three birthday parties a year for the past 37 years, which is more cupcakes than I’d care to count.

It uses an unusual mixing method — creaming the butter with the flour for five minutes to get things started — which is everything you’ve ever heard about what not to do with cake. But the results are so spectacular that I’ve never been able to understand why anyone would bother to make any other kind of cake ever, except that maybe they don’t have this recipe.

Well, now you do. And with that sort of urgency at stake, it’s about time I’ve gotten around to sharing it.

Norwegian Gold Cake (or Cupcakes) with Sour Cream Ganache 780 | Umami Girl-2

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Norwegian Gold Cake (or Cupcakes) with Sour Cream Ganache

These Norwegian Gold cupcakes (or cake!) with sour cream ganache frosting have been in our family since I can remember. They’re my go-to for my own birthday and that of our newly minted teenager. Makes one cake or 20 cupcakes.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Serves 20


For the cake

  • 1 2/3 cups (190 grams) sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

For the sour cream ganache frosting

  • 10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (chocolate chips are fine)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Pinch of fine sea salt


For the cake or cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F for cake or 375° F for cupcakes. Grease the bottom of a 10-inch tube or bundt pan, or line two cupcake pans with a total of 20 paper liners. Have all ingredients at room temperature.
  2. Beat flour and butter together for five minutes. 
  3. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
  4. Add sugar, baking powder, salt and vanilla and almond extracts. Beat for two minutes more.
  5. For a cake, bake for about one hour, checking after fifty minutes. For cupcakes, bake for 20-25 minutes.
  6. Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then completely on a rack before frosting.

For the frosting

  1. When ready to frost cake or cupcakes, heat chocolate in a double-boiler or in the microwave in bursts until just melted.
  2. Stir until smooth, then stir in sour cream and salt.
  3. Spread onto completely cooled cake or cupcakes and top with sprinkles or other decorations if you like. Frosting will set over time.

Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving:

Calories:: 287 Total Fat:: 16.2g Carbohydrates:: 33.1g Fiber:: 1.3g Protein:: 4.6g

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  1. Emily

    This is probably way too late in the game to ask, but I just made this (in bundt form). Do I refrigerate it after frosting it, or can I keep it on the counter? It’s for the hubby to bring into work tomorrow

  2. Greer

    I have made this cake and it’s FANTASTIC! In a couple of weeks I will be making it again for my daughter’s Frozen birthday party. Could you recommend a non-chocolate frosting that would taste good with this?


  3. Peggy

    OMG! There goes my willpower. 🙂

  4. Tommi

    Wiii! I am from norway, was soo fun to find this when stumbling:DD
    Guess I’ll have to try this cake now!:3

  5. nicole

    I just made this cake and was almost anointed to Sainthood by my family. WE Loved it!!!!! Thank you so much for sharing it.

  6. My roommate just made these for me for my birthday. They are AMAZING!!!

    1. What I find so interesting is you could never find this ayhnwree else.

  7. Those cupcakes sounds wonderful. As someone who blogs about Scandinavian recipes, it’s always fun to see other people helping to educate people about Scandinavian food, too!

  8. Tried it today, Carolyn, and it went well 🙂 Who knew cooking from scratch took so much time, though? Wow! They’re delicious, even though I used whole wheat flour and pink food coloring to make them into princess cupcakes. Had to do white chocolate chips for Annie so the frosting could be pink, but that worked pretty well too 🙂
    Thanks again!

  9. the ganache looks rich and delicious. would love to try it!

  10. Katrina

    I can’t wait to try this recipe! Happy birthday and thanks for the post and giveaway 🙂

  11. Happy Birthday! Will have to add this recipe to my birthday cake repertoire. I like how you include the times needed to beat each ingredient. Sometimes making cakes can be nerve-wracking because I am afraid I am beating the flour too long and will end up with a tough cake.

    I would love to have a chance to win the cookbook!

  12. Karl

    Oh how I would love to win the Zuni cookbook! What fun!

  13. Lauren

    I just stumbled upon your blog today. It looks like my timing was perfect — the Zuni cookbook looks amazing. I found your blog in the first place because I was looking for something to do with the half bushel of tomatoes and bushel of apples I bought yesterday. Just made eight quarts of applesauce this afternoon.. Can’t wait to try your other recipes.

  14. Vivian Boroff

    Let me start by saying this cake looks absolutely delicious! Love the idea of a sour cream ganache too. I would love to win this book! It has been on my list of books to get for some time now. I have many fond memories of Zuni from the short time I lived in the Bay Area. Judy Rodgers’ food is fantastic and I am glad that you had the opportunity to experience it and I hope that you had a wonderful time on your birthday 🙂

  15. Kalyn

    Very fun meeting you at last, and you are indeed just as gorgeous as your sister! Sounds like you had fun, and I’m adding Zuni Cafe to my “must eat there” places!

  16. Teresa

    My daughter’s birthday is later this month – she will officially be a teenager! She loves chocolate, and enjoys making things with me in the kitchen. I think she and I might make these cupcakes for her special day – I think she’ll love them and I’ll enjoy the time spent with her.

  17. The cupcakes look fab – can’t wait to try them. My daughter’s bear is celebrating his weekly birthday again; maybe I can try them and spice things up a bit.

    I would like to win the Zuni cookbook so I can finally learn how to make a more than so-so polenta and because no matter how much I beg my brother will not fly out on a whim to SF with me.

  18. Kirstin

    Thanks for sharing your cupcake recipe with us – I can’t wait to try it! Your pictures of the food are beautiful. I would love to add the beautiful cookbook to my kitchen and try Zuni’s recipes as I live smack dab in the middle of the country!

  19. Thanks, Jodey. It’s just pomegranate seeds and a little pink sanding sugar. All of which was promptly eaten.

    Sherrence, thanks for asking. Sift the flour first. Then use the spooning and leveling method to measure—spoon it into a measuring cup, and level it off with a knife. It’s amazing what a big difference correct measurement makes.

  20. Daphne

    ….you have the cutest ever client by they way – it is wonderful to see Addie in her moment of birthday glory 🙂 By the way I have always wanted to go to the Zuni Cafe myself….living in the bay area on under 15k a year, for a long time it was out of my financial realm…but hurray for living you sister’s dream of flying to California expressly for dinner. Perhaps the French Laundry for her next trip?

  21. Daphne

    Carolyn -Those cupcakes do look delicious! – but are they an electronic device ?
    If I had known about the recipe I might have tempted to go through with having wedding cupcakes instead of plain old wedding cake…..

  22. Sherrence

    I can’t wait to make these. I do have one question though. Do you measure the flour before or after sifting it?

  23. Jodey

    Love the write up and will definitely try the recipe. Out of curiostiy, what was used in the photograph to garnish the the sour cream ganache in the spoons?


  24. amy

    zuni is on my list of places to eat before I die! maybe I can at least make some of their fab stuff at home ’til I get there! pick me, pick me!

  25. These look good and although I don’t consider myself a baker in the least (I try) this looks like something I could master – I can almost taste it.

    And I’d like one of those books for inspiration.

  26. AndreaMichelle

    Oh that looks to die for good!! Must go and make these. Zuni Cafe sounds amazing too!

  27. Zenzi

    Dinners with sisters in San Francisco are one of life’s greatest joys 🙂 but a joy that I have put on hold to be a grad student out in lovely, chilly Cambridge MA —

    My family (sister included) is back in the SF Bay Area, and when I miss them most of all I cook something to remind me of home, and it warms my belly and my soul.

    Zuni Cafe IS Bay Area to me, which means it is home; this book would bring a slice of home (and of sister 🙂 to me waaay out here on the banks of the Charles ~ I would very much appreciate this.

  28. Hi Kiri, thanks. As I mentioned in the post, you’re right that beating the flour with the butter is extremely unusual for a cake. You’d think it would develop too much gluten in the flour and produce a tough result.

    It doesn’t. I wish I could say exactly why.

    The cake’s high fat and sugar content both contribute to a tender crumb, so that’s part of it—but I think maybe there’s a little magic involved as well. 🙂 Although my family has made this recipe as-is for years with great success, I did once try switching the flour and sugar to see what would happen. The result was not as good. A little lighter, yes, but that’s not what this cake is about.

  29. Kiri

    The cupcakes look gorgeous. I am a bit curious though about the order of ingredients where you mix the flour in first, should that be switched with the sugar? if not, what does this unusual method do?

  30. Carolyn, so glad you got away and celebrated your 33rd in a special way. Addie is stunning and so vibrant. A celebration of good genes and good parenting. Congratulations on all fronts.

  31. Marilyn

    I’ve heard terrific things about the Zuni roasted chicken. Would love to try that one!

  32. Gail

    I keep hearing about the Zuni Cafe and how I have to try their roast chicken. I would love to win the cookbook so that I could try it out along with the other deliciousness that Zuni is famous for. Thanks for the chance!

  33. My husband and I have a trip to California wine country percolating, but haven’t yet planned the details. Since I can’t get to the West Coast too often, I would love to try my hand at recreating Zuni’s recipes and then make it a destination on our trip! I would *definitely* order half the menu!

  34. Emma

    Noticed your cupcakes on foodgawker, and they look like pure gold! I’m sure they taste like it too…

    They’ve got me drooling (as does that cookbook!)

  35. Sally

    I’m intrigued by the butter/flour technique. I will definitely have to try the cupcakes just for that.

    As for the Zuni cookbook, I’ll have to go for the sympathy vote–I live in northwest Iowa (even more remote than Omaha), and if I’m going to get great food, I’m going to have to cook it myself! I have tried the Zuni roast chicken recipe (wonderful) and would like to try more. But then again, I’ve been a grad student a few too many times and know how stressful that can be. Maybe the Omaha grad student should get it.

  36. Jenni

    I would love to win the Zuni cookbook because I’ve never had the chance to go there but would love to try some of the recipes.

  37. Sarah

    i made the very famous zuni roast chicken+bread salad once before and absolutely adored it – it was so delicious! i would love to own this book so i could try out more of the recipes!

  38. Shelley

    Your cupcake photo has me drooling!
    I would love to win this cookbook, cause I love collecting and reading cookbooks, and this would be a great addition to my collection!
    Have heard great things about the Zuni Cafe, but never have been myself.

  39. Matthew

    I am currently a graduate student in Omaha, NE. I moved from Chicago, and my girlfriend out here has experience in a professional kitchen. My cooking experience prior to moving out here was minimal, at best. However, I have been learning and I actually have some skill now! I read your blog as much as possible and as soon as I read this, I remembered my friend telling me about this cookbook…I called her and she reaffirmed this was the book she told me about and I was unable to find months before.

    So I guess this cookbook would just be a nice addition to a small collection that will be growing!

  40. It’s been a year since I’ve moved away from San Francisco—and I miss it dearly. Would love to add Zuni to my cookbook collection. Thanks for your beautiful site!

  41. Esty

    Wow, the cake sounds interesting, kind of like making pie… but into a cake. I’m going to try it. Happy Birthday!

  42. That DOES look like the best cupcake ever!!!

  43. Susie

    Wow, those cupcakes are gorgeous! I would love to win the cookbook, as I have become sort of the go-to food guru amongst my friends. With them looking to me for inspiration, I can always use new ideas!

  44. It was my birthday on Saturday, but I just moved across the country and none of my cookbooks have arrived yet! The Zuni Cafe Cookbook would definitely keep me occupied for a while and would make a lovely birthday gift. =)

  45. Jill

    I can’t believe you guys went to ZUNI Cafe!!! Love that place. Miss that place. Used to go there everytime my uncle visited. Yum. Ah… Sweet San Francisco memories.
    How awesome that Allison joined you for the trip! (love the pic of her btw!!!) and… I LOVE that she asked you to turn your sandwich off… I can hear that conversation… thank you for that! :o) kinda made my morning!

    Recipes sound delicious… should have made these for Keith’s birthday! Oh well… guess I’ll just have to come up with another occasion! LOL!

  46. Hi Jess, happy birthday to Annie! Since the cupcakes are for little kids, you could probably stretch this to 24 or 25 if you don’t fill the tins too much (they do rise a lot if all the ingredients are really at room temperature). I wouldn’t expect any extras for the baker though, so I guess it depends how you feel about that. 🙂

  47. Ooh, just when I need to make cupcakes for Annie’s bday at school next week. I have to have enough cupcakes for 20 kids, plus 5 or so for adults/teachers. Do you think this recipe will make enough, or should I double it? Thanks Carolyn!

  48. Laura

    This cookbook sounds amazing – I have seen a delicious looking gnocchi recipe from Zuni Cafe on! I love that Judy Rodgers said in an interview that I saw with her that her greatest influences are the grandmas and the aunts and the mothers everywhere. I wish you had given us the full rehashing – it sounds like the food was awesome!

  49. I love trying new recipes and different recipes from places that they actually work in. Restaurant cookbooks are the best b/c if you know the place does well, you know you are gonna have one yummy recipe to make that night. And every night you use it.
    And Bloody Mary with Spicy Onion Gremolata? Wow I want to try that!!!!

  50. I live pretty much on the other side of the country from SF, but would love the chance to try some of Zuni’s recipes from that cookbook. Thanks!