Buttery Goodness

7 Mar

From Brown Eyed Baker’s take on Gooey Butter Cake. Makes you just want to grab that cake from your screen, doesn’t it?

There are certain foods I just can’t explain. I know they’re delicious, I know what’s in them, but my words somehow fail me when it comes to explaining the taste to other people. Gooey Butter Cake is one of those foods. In reality, its name is pretty prescriptive: it’s gooey, it’s cake, and it sure has a lot of butter in it. But beyond that, I can never quite explain to someone else what they’re in for when they go to take a bite.

According to food historians, Gooey Butter Cake was first made by a St. Louis-area baker in the 1930s. It was the product of a mix up: a new baker used the wrong sort of butter. But as with so many recipes and foods, the mess-up proved lucrative. Gooey Butter Cake was a hit, and a new era of buttery goodness was born.

I first fell in love with Gooey Butter Cake during my time in St. Louis, and have eagerly sought it out ever since. Every now and then I think I see it at a bakery…and then realize it’s just lemon bars, which can look awfully like the buttery bars I seek. I did find it once, by chance, in Alabama. The bakery even had multiple flavors! The owner told me that a customer from St. Louis had suggested it to them, and it’d sold well since.

I baked this cake for an Oscars party last weekend. Guests said it was exactly as advertised: gooey, butter, deliciousness!

I baked this one for an Oscars party last weekend. Tasters said it was exactly as advertised: gooey, butter, deliciousness!

Alas, the cake remains hard to find in the wild. So to satisfy my cravings, I started baking it myself a few years ago. I’ve tried a few recipes over time, and have come up with a couple favorites I want to share with you today.

There are 2 main approaches to gooey butter cake: one involves a risen base and corn syrup, the other involves cake mix and cream cheese. Neither one is technically considered “correct.” I’ve seen both kinds for sale in St. Louis, and both kinds on food blogs around the web. I personally prefer the yeast-dependent version, but I’ve also made the cake mix version and gotten rave reviews. So I suggest you peek over the recipes below and choose the one that feels most comfortable to you in terms of ingredients, and most appealing to you in terms of pictures and descriptions. Then grab some butter, and get baking!


  • My favorite yeast-based recipe can be found at both Brown Eyed Baker  and Smitten Kitchen. You have to let the dough rise for a bit so it forms a cake base, then you pour the corn syrup topping over it and bake it altogether
  • The cake mix version I’ve made is derived from the cake at a coffee shop called Kaldi’s. I found the recipe via a  St. Louis newspaper. It’s a quicker approach, and a bit easier, than the yeast version above
  • If you’re more of a cookie person, fear not. These Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies were really tasty and had a similar gooey texture

Ready Made

Unfortunately I don’t have many suggestions for buying it pre-made. If you happen to find yourself in St. Louis, definitely check out the version at Kaldi’s Coffee Shop. I’ve never tried the cake at Park Avenue Coffee, but I hear great things about their multitude of flavor options. Beyond St. Louis…a friend told me about  a similar dessert at a place called Mastro’s in Newport Beach, CA. I recently noticed a butter cake on California Pizza Kitchen’s menu. And of course, there’s always that Alabama bakery! Which, if my memory serves me right, was Heavenly Creations in Fairhope. And in one of my favorite twists on it, Ample Hills Creamery in Brooklyn mixes Gooey Butter Cake into one of their flavors. It’s divine, so if you find yourself in Brooklyn, check it out. 


6 Responses to “Buttery Goodness”


  1. On to the Next One | Culture Cookies - May 31, 2014

    […] everyone to try to it, even if it’s just for a few hours. I rambled on about the virtues of gooey butter cake. There was nostalgia for a week spent wandering around D.C. I shared the recipe for a successful […]


  2. A Tale of Two Cakes | Culture Cookies - September 4, 2014

    […] Even if I manage to perfect these recipes, eating them in SF will never be the same as eating them with the people who made them for me the first time. Hopefully someday I can return their hospitality, and I’ll start the visit by cutting them a nice, big slice of cake. Perhaps that’d be the perfect time to share the yellow cake my mom makes us for every birthday? Or maybe a thick slice of gooey butter cake? […]


  3. The Annual Report (vol. 2) | Culture Cookies - January 11, 2015

    […] Buttery Goodness […]


  4. Gooey Butter Cake | sugarsmith - May 27, 2015

    […] (A longer version of this post was originally published over at my other blog, Culture Cookies) […]


  5. Biscoff Gooey Butter Cake | sugarsmith - February 25, 2017

    […] are a few different types of Gooey Butter Cake recipes out there. This one uses a pretty standard cake base, and I liked it more than some […]


  6. Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake | sugarsmith - October 31, 2017

    […] been waxing poetic about the merits of gooey butter cake for years. It’s not something you see on many menus or at many bakeries…and I can’t […]


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