8 Types of Cream Used in Cakes & Their Roles

8 Types of Cream Used in Cakes & Their Roles
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I love cake-making, and creams are my best friend, but not all types of cream go in all types of cakes. Creams are not only desirable ingredients in cakes but also necessary ones. Without cream, cakes would be far from the rich and luxurious desserts we all know and love. So, what types of cream are used in cakes, and what are their roles? 

You can make cakes with sour cream, crème fraiche, heavy cream, buttermilk, table cream, clotted cream, whipped cream, mascarpone, or pastry cream. Each of these types of cream has an intended use in the cake, and their uses vary depending on the type of cake.

Choosing the right cream for your cake is much more than just slapping any cream you have at home and being done with it. Sure, there are creams you can use in almost any cake, but there are those that are more picky and don’t go just anywhere. In this article, I will tell you all about the types of creams for cakes and how to use them. 

Sour Cream

Sour cream is one of those types of cream you can use in many cakes. In addition to making a great filling in cheesecakes, it also works wonders for the structure, texture, and consistency of many cakes. So, from cheesecakes to chocolate cakes to fruit cakes, it works everywhere.

Sour cream adds moisture and richness to the cake dough, making it soft and incredibly luxurious. Due to its fermented nature, it creates bonds with the rest of the cake ingredients adding to its stability, making it perfectly soft and firm at the same time. Still, you can always substitute it according to what you have on hand or according to your taste.

Add a few scoops of sour cream to the rest of the cake ingredients and allow it to homogenize, creating the perfect cake dough. If your recipe doesn’t call for sour cream, but the dough seems dry, feel free to add some for moisture. Flavor-wise, sour cream is undetectable in cakes when used in the dough, so don’t worry about making your cake sour. 

Crème Fraiche

Chocolate Cake With Pears and Creme Fraiche

Much like sour cream, crème fraiche is a type of cream used for moisture and richness. It is also a good sour cream substitute for fillings in cheesecakes or fruit cakes. Crème fraiche is also a fermented dairy product that bonds with the cake dough ingredients contributing to the cake’s stability. 

I like to add a scoop of crème fraiche to my cakes for richness and a tad of luxury. It is milder-tasting than sour cream, with a very discrete tang and a more pronounced nuttiness, and a slight buttery note. It is a great addition to cakes, even if it isn’t included in the recipe.


Secret Uses of Cream in Baking & What You Need to Know

Heavy Cream

Heavy cream is probably the most widely used cream for cakes. You can use it both as a filling and as a topping, but also you can add it to the cake dough to make it moister, softer, and richer. Heavy cream is a high-fat dairy product which is why it holds up so well in so many different uses. 

If you whip it, it becomes whipped cream, and you can use it as a decoration for your cakes, as well as filling. Also, whipped cream can be a dessert on its own, and there are recipes calling for only whipped cream and a few other ingredients without using flour, meaning you can bake it without a problem. 

Heavy cream creates a certain elasticity in the cake dough, which is why it has a very wide application in dessert-making. In the cake dough, the high-fat heavy cream bonds with the cake ingredients creating a soft and silky substance you can easily shape. The end result is a puffy, airy, soft, chewy, and richly moist cake you can cut or shape without falling apart. 

I love heavy cream because it is very easy to work with, and even if you are a total beginner, you can still pull off a great cake. 


Adding Buttermilk into Cake Batter

Often used interchangeably with sour cream, buttermilk is a great addition to the cake. Still, it is more of a behind-the-scenes type of cream and is mostly used as an addition to the cake dough. 

It adds moisture, softness, and richness to your cake, but avoid using it as a filling. If you do use it as filling, combine it with a few other ingredients or another type of cream, often mascarpone or sour cream, as it doesn’t do well on its own. 

Buttermilk has a sight tang and a subtle acidity, which are particularly useful in heavier cakes, as it does a great job balancing the flavors piercing through the heavier sweetness of the cake. In lighter cakes, such as fruit cakes, it accentuates the fruity dimension of the flavors, making the cake taste even fruitier. 

I like using buttermilk in strawberry cakes, especially when the strawberries are a little sour. Here buttermilk amplifies the taste of strawberries while balancing their sourness. 

Table Cream 

Table cream is a lighter cream with a lower fat percentage of about 10 to 18%. It doesn’t add much taste-wise, but it creates a more refined consistency, giving it richness and moisture. It is widely used in cakes that require a tenderer consistency and aren’t that heavy, such as fruit cakes, for example. 

Table cream is better suited to use in batters instead dough because it is thinner and more liquid than the rest of the creams mentioned here. So, if you use it in cake dough, make sure you don’t use too much because it may make its consistency thinner than it should be. 


Although mascarpone isn’t technically a cream but a type of cream cheese, it has made a name in the cake world, so it seems very unfair not to mention it. Mascarpone creates a rich and luxurious feeling in the cake, and it is mostly used in cheesecakes for its tang. 

It does leave a certain cheesy and tangy flavor in the cake, which is why it doesn’t fit just anywhere. If you are into trying new things and experimenting with flavors and ingredients, you can try using mascarpone in other cakes, but if you prefer the classics, stick to mascarpone cheesecakes. 

As much as I love discovering new flavors, I avoid using mascarpone outside of cheesecakes because it doesn’t seem to fit all that well in other traditionally sweet cakes. 

Clotted Cream 

Clotted cream is a high-fat cream with a rich, thick, and luxurious consistency. Unlike most of the creams we discuss here, clotted cream injects the cake with richness and moisture, as well as flavor. 

While many creams are undetectable, flavor-wise, clotted cream is very much noticeable in the cake. It isn’t overwhelming or overpowering, but you will definitely feel a buttery and nutty flavor. I love using clotted cream in cakes because the cake is rich and moist, and I can add only a few things to make it even more delicious. So, you can use it in simple cakes with simple ingredients, as well as in more decadent combos. 

Pastry Cream

Pastry cream or custard cream is a DIY cream you can make at home using eggs and sugar as the basic ingredients. You can add flavorings such as vanilla or rum extract, chocolate, or crushed nuts to give it some texture.

You can use this cream anywhere you like, but it is best suited to use as filling and topping after baking the cake. It is perfect for luxurious creamy cakes, as well as cream pies. I like to add a thick layer of this pastry cream and make a layer cake and then splash some more until the entire cake is covered with it.

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