Thursday, October 02, 2008

What's Gooey Butter Cake?

What's Gooey Butter Cake?

 It's a scrumptious only-in-St. Louis treat served for breakfast, lunch or dinner,  ala mode or plain. What could be more sensuous and decadent than a gooey dessert, the kind that when you bite into it drips down your chin? And when it comes to gooey desserts, perhaps the champion is the aptly named gooey butter cake, though, surprisingly, it is little known outside my home region. Perhaps that's because the gooey butter cake was invented here in St. Louis and possibly because the recipe has been understandably safeguarded ever since.

Like many a delicacy, fudge, brownies and chocolate chip cookies among them, the gooey butter cake was created by accident. Sometime in the 1930s, legend has it, a German baker in St. Louis inadvertently put too much sugar into his cake batter and was too thrifty to waste it, so he just baked it anyway.
The glutinous result was a hit and today there's hardly a bakery in St. Louis or the surrounding region that doesn't offer a version. The old Heimburger Bakery on South Lindbergh was especially famous for it.

You can find Gooey Butter Cake in bakeries all over the St. Louis area, but what's someone from out-of-town to do? Here's the answer. Enjoy making one of St. Louis' popular, quirky foods.

There appear to be at least two different approaches to making gooey butter cake at home. One starts with a yeast-based dough over which a filling consisting chiefly of butter, sugar, milk and often corn syrup is poured. Similar to Philadelphia German butter cake, this may well have been the original version. More recently a version starting with a packaged cake mix has become popular. Its filling consists mainly of cream cheese and powdered sugar.

Bon Appetit!

Recipe attached.

1/2 cup butter
1 box yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1 - 8 oz. package of cream cheese
1/2 t almond extract
4 cups of confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease one 9x13 cake pan. Melt butter. Empty cake mix into a large bowl. Stir melted butter, along with one egg, into the cake mix. Press mixture into pan. In a large bowl, mix cream cheese, almond extract, confectioners sugar and the remaining two eggs. Beat for three minutes with an electric mixer set on medium high speed. Spread over top of the cake mixture in the pan. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes until golden brown on top. Allow cake to cool. Dust the top with confectioner’s sugar. (Cake will be gooey on the top, so don't over bake!)

"This a very rich cake, but mmmmmmmm so good. Best when eaten with milk or coffee. You can also make it a Chocolate Gooey Butter Cake if desired. Just use a chocolate cake mix in place of the yellow."


  1. I am familiar with the cake mix version. The original sounds like a Butter Kuchen. In Louisville, back when neighborhood bakeries abounded, the German bakers made kuchen (koo-ka). Kuchen come in many different flavors-fruit, cinnamon, cheese, cheese and fruit and BUTTER. The best Butter Kuchens are runny. Today, I know of one remaining German bakery, Heitzman's. Their wonderful runny, butter kuchen can be found at the local Kroger stores.

  2. Funny you should post about "Gooey Butter Cake" I thought about this recipe the other day ~ thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks for the recipe. This sounds scrump-diddly-umptious! Can't wait to try it.

  4. OH....I'll have to have some of this...soon. I'm from the St. Louis area, originally.


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