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Substituting sourcream with something else?

cherryadia's picture

Substituting sourcream with something else?


I have attempted some hand-kneading bread recipes and ended up with massive upper body workout that left me in pain and with impossible-to-consume fail bread (I will probably put up another question-filled post about hand kneading...). So I have been researching about no-knead method and came up with Dan Lepard, and my friend heard me talking about him and his almost no-knead technique and for my birthday last month, my friend gave me Dan Lepard's new book called "Short & Sweet".

I came across a recipe called "Sour Cream Sandwich Bread" from this book that I really wanted to try. It's just that sour cream is not the easiest thing to get in the part of South Korea I live in, and even if I could get some sour cream, it's really expensive. So naturally, I was wondering whether I could substitute sour cream with something else.

I thought I would ask the master bakers on this site to guide me as the author specifically mentioned about sour cream as follows:

"The fat content in the cream is what gives the crust its tenderness, so don't be tempted by any low fat substitutes."

I am not looking for low fat substitutes at all. It would be nice to get some low fat substitutes and still get soft crust and crumb, but if not, then I am more than happy to try full fat substitutes.

I will include the full ingredients and the method of this Sour Cream Sandwich bread recipe. Please help me to find a good sour cream substitute!

Thank you in advance :D

 (recipe removed at publisher's request)

 Dan's recipe can be found here:

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

I make Dan Lepard's Sourcream Sandwich Loaf often.

It's delicious and easy to make (and a good way to dispense with those giant containers of sourcream I buy at Costco).

I don't think you could substitute the sourcream, though: It's essential to the quality of this bread.

When I posted about it last year (see this post), someone suggest yogurt. That might work, but I haven't tried it.


Dan Lepard changed the way I knead dough.

I don't knead to pass the windowpane test (or to exhaustion, whichever comes first), preferring his mix-rest-mix-rest-mix-rest 30-minute method.

His Sourcream Sandwich Loaf is the bread that introduced me to the method.

You can see its modified use in the process formula for the bread I wrote about yesterday:

Note the Mix 1, Mix 2, Mix 3.

That's from Dan Lepard.


Oh, and it does toast like a dream.

cherryadia's picture

Ah.... yeah, I did have a strong feeling that sourcream was essential and irreplaceable.

And I went to your formula post and it looks FANTABULOUS. I LOVE how you organized the method in a table. Love it. So easy to understand and follow!

I am only a beginner baker and would probably not attempt sourdough baking until I get enough practice with easier dough recipes. But I shall definitely try your Mix1-Mix2-Mix3 method!

Thank you! :D

mrfrost's picture

Try plain (whole milk) yogurt, or plain (whole milk)greek yogurt. If you really need the consistency of sour cream, strain the plain yogurt through a piece of cheese clloth, etc.

I always freely substitute these items in baking, ususally with great results, even if not always exactly as the original.

All of these items are also extremely easy to make(and perpetuate) yourself if you can obtain a small sample. Ideally you want to start with fresh, "natural" samples(with no additives, or as few additives as possible).

With good refrigeration, homemade buttermilk and yogurt keep(store) for a very long time(a couple of months, at least). Here's a link to a great site for making these and many more of these type items yourself:

cherryadia's picture

I will definitely try plain whole milk yogurt! It is nearly impossible to get greek yogurt or buttermilk in South Korea (where I live) because.... they don't use either of them!

But I could get palin whole milk yogurt and sourcream. It's just that I have to go to a big store like Costco (far away from my house) and pay a lot of money for a small tub of sourcream and a tub never lasts long enough for baking....

But thank you for your information! I would definitely try strained yogurt. And perhaps some cheesemaking! I do not have any acccess to some cheese making ingredients (such as required enzymes, etc.) but I am sure there are some cheese recipes requiring only cream, salt, and lemon juice (things I can get from South Korea). Thank you!

mrfrost's picture

Yogurt and (cultured)buttermilk are ridiculously easy to make. Although I have not tried it, sour cream should be too. As far as I understand, sour cream is basically buttermilk, but instead of culturing "milk",  cream, or light cream is cultured.

Please read the sections on yogurt and buttermilk in the link I provided, when you have time. You won't believe how easy they are to make. No special equipment(or enzymes) needed, besides the initial sample of the item itself. For yogurt, you may need a gentle heat source, but one can usually improvise with what is on hand. And again, with decent refigeration, they last "forever".

PastryPaul's picture

Sour cream is not at all easy to make. Its cousin, crème fraiche, however, is.

Heat a cup (240ml) of heavy cream (heaviest you can find 40% if possible, but a standard 35% works too) until it is warm to hot, but not boiling. Easy does it. When it is wam to hot, stir in a tablespoon, (15ml) of buttermilk. Let it sit lightly covered in a fairly warm place for 12 - 24 hours, or until it is nice and thick.

To thicken it even more, line a strainer with a coffee filter, fill it and let it sit overnight. Keep the liquid for use in breads.

Refrigerate for 8 hours before using the crème fraiche.


cherryadia's picture


Why yes, I read the wonderful link you posted. I am thinking of trying yogurt. Internet research in Korean led me to using my rice cooker to do the heat trick. Very cool :D

Regarding buttermilk, I am still in search for it.... Korean people have no idea what buttermilk is, and they neither consume nor use buttermilk.....

I shall try and make some Greek yogurt using the link you provided!

Thank you so much :D

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I'd use that and cut back just a pinch or two of the salt if the cheese contains salt.  

Take 100g of the cream cheese spread and add 25g whole milk to soften

or just use 125g and add a splash of milk if the dough feels too dry.

cherryadia's picture

Ooooh that is such a delicious idea! Cream cheese! Would definitely give it a try!

Thank you Mini!

FoodFascist's picture

Yes, yoghurt is a good idea. Try some greek-style yoghurt if you can find any, that should both be similar in texture to sour cream and also the taste isn't that different. If you can't find greek-style, any other kind of set yoghurt will do (look for one that tastes as plain as possible as yoghurts often have a very characteristic tangy taste). Lastly, if you can't find any set yoghurt, just get a plain natural runny one.

Ideally, if you could get hold of some non-pasturised (raw) cream or milk (full-fat), just let that sit at room temperature until it goes sour. Don't worry, it won't spoil. It's just the lactobacilli naturally present in raw milk doing their job. That's exactly how sour cream was made for centuries (and still is, in the parts of the world less spoilt by "civilization"). If you get milk rather than cream, what you'll end up with is sour milk of course, so you'll have to do a bit of work straining the curds. The curds won't be quite as fatty as sour cream but near enough. You can also try leaving some pasturised milk to go sour, so long as pasturisation was the ONLY way it was processed before it hit your shopping bag it should be fine.

One last thing, if you have a sourdough starter, you could pop a spoonfull of that into some milk and sour it that way.

cherryadia's picture

REALLY??? I didn't know that was how sour cream was made!! Fascinating!

I do know there are some non-pasturized milk sold here, but I am not sure whether it's full fat. Korean people are paralized by the mention of "fat," so their milk pretty much tastes like water. Yuck.

But nonetheless, I will try and find non-pasturized cream or milk.

And I am still petrified by the idea of sourdough starter... It seems too advanced for me... Or shall I try and make a sourdough starter? I am still debating. But when I do, I shall definitely try a spoonful of that into some milk.

Thank you, FoodFascist!

PastryPaul's picture

According to joyof

For Cream, Sour 1 cup (225 grams)


  • 1 cup (225 grams) plain yogurt
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) sour milk, buttermilk or plain yogurt + 1/3 cup (75 grams) melted butter
  • 1 cup (225 grams) crème fraiche
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar plus enough whole milk to fill 1 cup (240 ml) (let stand 5-10 minutes)

These subs have all worked well, but do not necessarily accurately replicate sour cream.

FYI: You can place a coffee filter lined stainer over a bowl. Fill it with regular plain or vanilla yogurt, and let it drip for about 24hrs, you will have a thick, rich, greek-style yogurt. Don't throw out the liquid whey. Replace an equal amount of water in any formula with it. It adds a great tang and depth of flavour to anything.


cherryadia's picture

Thank you PastryPaul!

I go to the Joy site often, didn't come across my mind to check it about sourcream sub before posting here... 

I use 1 Tbsp lemon juice + milk to fill 1 cup for buttermilk substitute when making biscuits. Maybe I'll try that one.

And getting liquid whey! That's just way too cool. Must try.

Thank you so much!

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

I guess it doesn't matter, but it's strange considering that the publisher would ask Floyd to remove the recipe (they had him remove it from my post as well) when they published in one of the world's largest newspapers:

I can't imagine it's Dan Lepard himself, as he's also been very open to sharing his work and shares the same recipe on his blog:

G-man's picture

It probably has something to do with copyright. When the publisher doesn't exercise control over a copyright and then later attempts to regain control of a situation that has gotten out of hand, it can be difficult for them to argue that they deserve the right. Therefore, instead of waiting for things to get out of hand and then trying to fix it, they're trying to ensure no problem happens in the first place.

I'm not incredibly well-versed on copyright law, but my understanding is that the more copyright violations are tolerated by a publisher, the harder it is for them to force their hand when they're genuinely losing money. So while it's genuinely harmless or even beneficial for them to display a recipe from their book on this site, they didn't give explicit permission for it to be displayed and therefore they didn't have control of their property. They did give explicit permission for the guardian to publish the recipe.


thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

I don't understand it either (I sometimes think the law was/is made opaque so we need a large population of high-priests (attorneys) to manage it for the rest of us lowly sheeples).

The recipe's on his blog too, so my guess is that the publisher is in the process of publishing a book that includes all of the recipes on his blog.

Whatever the case, I'm not going to let it reflect badly on Dan Lepard. He's always been very generous with his time and recipes. And Floyd's shown time and again that he doesn't make knee-jerk decisions.

Floydm's picture

Title: copyright infringement

Dear Floyd,

I know that as the internet has grown, we've taken a relatively relaxed approach to recipes being used, and that the site has quite a lot of Dan Lepard's recipes in one form or another. However, we've had to review this approach and in particular how we deal with the re-publication of recipes from this point on, where Dan's prior written approval has not been obtained.

Our approach now is that in general, we need to respect the rights of publishers that commission Dan's work and that we also need to direct traffic to those publishers' sites, so that they can see that recipes written by Dan generate interest. And where any of Dan's books are concerned, we will make a short list of recipes available to reviewers and bloggers with permission to use and re-publish, but will ask sites not to post other recipes in full.

At and again at two of your members have posted a full Dan Lepard recipe which is not approved for re-publication and which is very much in copyright. I would therefore ask you to remove the recipe details from the threads - I have no problem with the remainder of those threads and the exchange of ideas and tips, but we cannot any longer afford to provide 3rd-party sites with free recipe content when we need either to direct readers to sites which commission work from Dan, or to his books. This recipe is a particularly contentious issue, as I've had to fight a well-known milling/baking supplies and recipes company which published it without permission, and so it's one that I can't ignore.

I would assure you of our general support for your site, but in future, we do need to avoid recipes being posted when readers should instead be directed to Dan's books or to a commissioning publisher's site.

I would appreciate your confirmation that the recipe details will be edited out of these two threads.


David Whitehouse
Business Manager for Dan Lepard/Editor, Short & Sweet

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

The expression "biting the hand that feeds you" is particularly apt.

Please add my name to the list of customers that will never buy a Dan Lepard book again, including Short & Sweet.

PastryPaul's picture

The beauty of this site is that avid bakers and professionals share their expertise with each other. We often will, as in this case, work to sub an ingredient that is in short supply, for whatever reason, for someone who has already bought a cookbook. Other times, we troubleshoot, for free, recipes/formulae that really should have been tested prior to publication. Doing either is somewhat difficult without the recipe/formula.

Don't even get me started on how many times we need to decipher volume measurements into more useable mass-based ones.

Perhaps, in the future, we should refrain from providing free advertising to authors and their works by not naming them. After all, there really is no such thing as a unique recipe. Simple arithmetic and a basic knowledge of the Law of Averages will tell us that anything printed today has already been done at some point in the 5,000 year history of our craft.

A note to Mr. Whitehouse: I was very curious about that recipe. So much so that I saved the link to try it for myself later. I often do this. If I like it, I will go out and get the book. My logic is that if this one recipe is good, the book must contain more good ones. Now we will never know. Perhaps, one less book sale is nothing, but, multiply the possibility by the thousands of TFL subscribers and it becomes more significant.

Is it the public posting that bothers you? Would you be more comfortable with private messages? Or do you contend that your client invented the concept of sour cream in bread production. Please, bread made with sour cream's snooty cousin, crème fraiche, has been around for about 200 years.

I wonder how Dan Lepard weighs in on this?

I usually end my posts with "Cheers" but I think I'll forgo it this time.


cherryadia's picture

As I mentioned in my thread/post, I DO OWN DAN LEPARD'S SHORT & SWEET.

My friend ordered it for me for my birthday and here is the picture of me holding the book and a little note saying "Thank you Susie, love you" in Korean (to show my friend Susie I got the book).

I did not know posting one of his recipes that is already online would be against the copywrite law.

I just could not add the link to my comment because whenever I tried to add a link, my comment wouldn't post!!!!!!

So I partly paraphrased and partly copied off of my book. How am I biting the hands that fed me if I actually own a copy?

I will still purchase more books of Dan Lepard in hopes that Dan gets the credit.

Nonetheless, I am very disappointed and hurt by Mr.Whitehouse to assume that I am such an ingrate.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

can easily be asked without printing the recipe.

As you can see, both posts still stand on their own without the recipe.  Anyone having the book can easily look it up (always nice to add a page number) and comment about the formula.  I think a substitution can easily be managed.  While we are talking about it...  it can also be an infringement to copy pictures from other sources unless they are your own.  Cute picture above!  Funny, I've never seen a publisher object to a photo of a book cover!  :)

The "hand that bites" comment refers to the publisher biting the hand that buys the book.  

I guess the publisher might want us to go to Dan Lepard's site and ask the question when it comes to method or formula, but I wouldn't want to bother Dan either for a substitution question unless I replaced everything in the recipe.  Then the recipe might look so different that it could be published here and NO ONE would recognise it!  Lol (laugh on line)  :)   


G-man's picture

I for one agree with replacing every ingredient in Mr. Lepard's recipes with completely different ingredients entirely. The creative minds on this site could have a field day with that.

cherryadia's picture

That makes sense. It's just that I sometimes see a full recipe posted on TFL. I went back to posts with full recipes, realized that they either made some major alterations or the recipes are their own creations.

I'll definitely figure out how to include a link to the recipe without crashing my computer.

And if the recipe is not offered online, maybe I could just stick with ingredients list? Would that break the law as well? I am not sure.

If I do, though, I'm certain some will come and stop me... *shrug*

Hope 1) I don't make the same mistake and 2) I don't get locked up or booted out for making innocent unknowing mistakes!

Thank you for your clarification and support, Mini!