Cream Cheese Butter Cake

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    9 to 12

Appears in

The Baking Bible

By Rose Levy Beranbaum

Published 2014

  • About
Oven Temperature 350°F/175°C

This cake, which is similar in texture to a classic pound cake, received raves from the Beta Bakers who tested many of the recipes for this book. It evolved from my favorite pie crust, which employs cream cheese. I suspected that cream cheese would also make an excellent variation to my favorite sour cream cake. The result is a cake with a soft, fine crumb, moister than usual yet tender and light, with a flavorful tang from the cream cheese that is echoed in the lemon curd buttercream. This extraordinary buttercream is from Liz Pruitt of Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. The technique of adding the butter after cooking the curd is the secret to its glorious flavor and was adapted from that of the renowned pastry chef Pierre Hermé.

Plan Ahead Make the light lemon curd buttercream at least 3 hours ahead.



3 (to 4) large egg yolks, at room temperature tablespoons (52 ml) 2 ounces 56 grams
sour cream ½ cup, divided 4.3 ounces 121 grams
pure vanilla extract 1 teaspoon (5 ml) . .
bleached cake flour (see Note) cups (sifted into the cup and leveled off) 5.3 ounces 150 grams
superfine sugar ¾ cup 5.3 ounces 150 grams
baking powder ¼ teaspoon . 1.1 grams
baking soda teaspoon . 2.1 grams
fine sea salt ¼ teaspoon . 1.5 grams
unsalted butter (65° to 75°F/19° to 23°C) 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) 3 ounces 85 grams
cream cheese (65° to 75°F/19° to 23°C), cut into ½ inch cubes 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons 1.5 ounces 42 grams

Special Equipment

One 8 by 2 inch square baking pan, wrapped with a cake strip, bottom coated with shortening, topped with parchment, then coated with baking spray with flour


Preheat the Oven

Twenty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

Mix the Liquid Ingredients

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, 2 tablespoons/1 ounce/30 grams of the sour cream, and the vanilla just until lightly combined.

Make the Batter

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter, cream cheese, and the remaining sour cream. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1½ minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture to the batter in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Using a large silicone spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface evenly with a small offset spatula.

Bake the Cake

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown, a wire cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cake should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal from the oven. The surface will be uneven but will flatten out on cooling.

Cool and Unmold the Cake

Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pan and the cake, pressing firmly against the pan, and invert the cake onto a wire rack that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray. Cool completely upside down to flatten the surface. Reinvert the cake onto a serving plate.

Make the Lemon Curd Buttercream

See recipe.

Compose the Cake

Spread ½ cup/4.3 ounces/123 grams of the lemon curd buttercream in a thin layer over the top of the cake. Refrigerate the remainder of the buttercream for another dessert (see Notes).


Airtight: room temperature, 1 day; refrigerated, 3 days; frozen, 2 months (without the lemon curd buttercream).

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