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Mar 8, 2005 07:12 PM

Can I sub Sour Cream for Heavy Cream?

  • p

The scones thread below has inspired me to try a cream scones recipe, but when I went to the store I was put off by the expense of heavy cream these days -- $2.99 for a pint!! (OK, it's 3 bucks, which isn't a lot, but a huge increase in price from even a year ago.)

Instead, I grabbed a pound size (16 oz) container of sour cream. Can anyone comment on whether I can sub the sour cream for the heavy cream? Any tweaks required for the cream scones recipe?

As a side note, noticing that there have been variances to dairy price increases in the last year. Butter, milk, and cream prices have gone through the roof, but ice cream and sour cream, as well as industrial domestic cheese ie. Kraft cheddars, have barely gone up at all. What gives?


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  1. the acid in the sour cream will affect leavening. extra milk solids will definitely affect texture and make the scones denser. who knows what the additives will do.

    1 Reply
    1. re: anon

      Good point. I was asking because the main difference between sour cream and heavy cream is the viscosity and the acidity. But I have made layer cakes where oil, butter and sour cream were basically interchangeable as the fat source, so I wasn't sure if that could be carried over to scones with a little tweaking.

      1. Considering the recipe specifically said DO NOT SUBSTITUTE for the heavy cream, I wonder why would you bother?

        Sour cream is thicker, so you will need to adjust dry to wet ingredients proportions, it also has more acid, so you will need to adjust the amount of baking soda/powder to make up for it. And is the list of ingredients on sour cream "cream and bacterial culture" or is there some other stuff in it (as is often the case these days) which will further alter the flavour, texture and the end result?

        There are half dozen recipes on epicurious with sour cream as ingredient. Why not follow those instead or at least use it as a guide in altering the proportions?

        3 Replies
        1. re: summertime

          I interpreted the no substitution as don't sub with a lesser fat item, ie. milk, half/half, or light cream. I figured that sour cream has the same amount of fat content as heavy cream, therefore a do-able substitution.

          1. re: Pupster

            I do not think sourcream has the same fat content. You might be lucky enough to find a sourcream with 30 percent milk fat content which is the bare minimum fat content for a heavy cream, but the typical "regular" sourcream has only 18-20 percent milkfat and it is even lower for "light" and "low fat" types.

            1. re: summertime

              Good to know. I thank you for the info.

        2. I would not substitute them--much different flavor/consistency.

          (You could try it, but if you think about the time it takes to prepare and cook the scones, if they turn out poorly you may be in the negative financially. Just a thought.)

          1. Agree w/ others that it's not a good idea. I wouldn't use sour cream as the main dairy in any scone recipe. I'm actually surprised that your linked recipe doesn't call for any butter, but I guess it's all about the cream. Either go get some cream and follow the recipe or make a sour cream coffee cake instead.

            I get most of my dairy products at Trader Joe's. Pint of cream and pound of butter run around $2 each.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Carb Lover

              Well, cream is essentially unchurned butter, so it's not totally absurd. But I get your point: all my previous scone efforts always had butter in the recipe. That's kinda why I wanted to try this one.

              1. re: Pupster

                Didn't think it was 'absurd' just different. Most scones that I've made before have called for both cream and very cold butter. The butter gives it a nice flaky texture and enhanced flavor.

                Whatever you decide to do, please report back on your results.