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This Norwegian gold cake (or cupcakes!) with sour cream ganache frosting has been in our family since I can remember. It's my go-to for my own birthday and one of our kids' — and since I first published it here in 2009, I'm delighted that it's become a go-to for many of you as well. Don't miss it.
Why we love this recipe
Norwegian gold cake has shepherded our family through an average of three birthday parties a year since 1976, 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 birthday cake ever, except that maybe they don’t have this recipe. It's:
- Substantial, almost like pound cake, but also incredibly moist and tender
- Rich and flavorful
- Straightforward in the best possible way
- Totally memorable — everyone asks for the recipe
Plus, it's so easy and unfussy to make. Everything comes together in a single bowl. We love it with sour cream ganache as frosting, but I've included alternatives below as well.
What you'll need
Here's a glance at the ingredients you'll need to make this cake. Take them out in advance so that the eggs and butter can come to room temperature before mixing.
- Good old all-purpose flour gets sifted into the butter, creating a gorgeous crumb
- This recipe uses five whole eggs, which makes it rich and golden-colored
- A tiny bit of almond extract goes a long way — and helps to make this cake really special.
- These days I like to use bittersweet chocolate chips, but the original recipe calls for semisweet. They both work beautifully, and the choice is yours.
How to make it
Here's what you'll do to make a beautiful Norwegian gold cake (or cupcakes) with sour cream ganache. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.
- The first step is a surprising one, but trust me, it works beautifully in this cake. Cream the butter and flour (yup, flour) together for five full minutes.
- Then beat in the eggs one at a time, and then the sugar, baking powder, salt, vanilla, and almond extract.
- Scoop the batter into a prepared pan or lined cupcake tins. Bake at 325°F for cake or 375°F for cupcakes. See the recipe card below for timing.
- When the cake is cool, melt the chocolate chips and stir in the sour cream and pinch of salt. Spread onto cake and serve.
Expert tips and FAQs
I know. But yes. The texture of this cake is exceptional, partly due to the creaming technique. I've tried swapping the order and creaming the sugar and butter instead, just for research purposes, and it doesn't achieve the same special result. Just do it.
This recipe makes excellent cupcakes, but it really shines in a bundt pan. That style of pan is brilliant because it allows the heat to circulate in the center of the cake. This cake has a gorgeous, brown crust and a tender center, and a bundt pan really makes the most of that combination.
Sure thing. You can make it without the frosting and serve it plain or with a dusting of powdered sugar. You can use a simple, thick-pour glaze of powdered sugar mixed with a bit of milk and vanilla extract, or mixed with some freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice. If you like, stir some grated lemon or orange zest into the batter. Or simply omit the almond extract and double the vanilla.
P.S. Speaking of Norwegian cakes (as one does), I'm looking forward to making a kransekake one of these days.
Yes, you can make it up to 24 hours in advance. Once completely cool, cover and keep at room temperature. Store leftovers the same way for up to three or four days.
More favorite classic cakes
For the cake
- 1 ⅔ cups (190 grams) sifted all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (2 sticks) (227 grams) unsalted butter
- 5 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups (300 grams) sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons (7 grams) baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon pure almond extract
For the sour cream ganache frosting
- 10 ounces (283 grams) semi-sweet chocolate (chocolate chips are fine)
- 1 cup (240 grams) sour cream
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
For the cake or cupcakes
- Have all ingredients at room temperature.
- 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.
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat butter and sifted flour together for five minutes on medium speed.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition to incorporate.
- Add sugar, baking powder, salt, and vanilla and almond extracts. Beat for two minutes more.
- Scoop batter into pan(s). For a cake, bake for about 55 minutes, until golden and beginning to pull away slightly from the sides of the pan. (Start checking at 50 minutes). For cupcakes, bake for 20-25 minutes.
- Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then completely on a rack before frosting.
For the frosting
- When ready to frost cake or cupcakes, heat chocolate in a double-boiler or in the microwave in bursts until just melted.
- Stir until smooth, then stir in sour cream and salt.
- If you would like to pour the icing over a bundt cake rather than spreading it, you can stir in some milk a few tablespoons at a time until it reaches the consistency you like.
- Spread onto completely cooled cake or cupcakes and top with sprinkles or other decorations if you like. Frosting will set over time.
- These days I like to use bittersweet chocolate chips in the frosting, but the original recipe calls for semisweet. They both work beautifully, and the choice is yours.
- Variations: You can make the cake without the frosting and serve it plain or with a dusting of powdered sugar. You can use a simple, thick-pour glaze of powdered sugar mixed with a bit of milk and vanilla extract, or mixed with some freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice. If you like, stir some grated lemon or orange zest into the batter. Or simply omit the almond extract and double the vanilla.
- You can make the cake up to 24 hours in advance. Once completely cool, cover and keep at room temperature. Store leftovers the same way for up to three or four days.
I first published this recipe here in 2009. I've updated the post for clarity, but the recipe remains the same.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 287Total Fat: 16.2gCarbohydrates: 33.1gFiber: 1.3gProtein: 4.6g