It only seemed right, then, to serve gooey butter cake at Renatta’s graduation party. Before going to college in Missouri, I’d never heard of the stuff. I’ve since learned that it’s a St. Louis staple—you can find it in grocery stores, coffee shops, there are even whole shops dedicated to it.
I’ve seen two homemade versions. The more typical version features cake mix and cream cheese. I’ve had it and loved it, but I was eager to try the version I found on Smitten Kitchen. This variation starts with a yeasted dough and is then topped with a sugary mixture. I was a little wary as I made this—my dough never rose—but the finished product was still a success! The base was almost a little salty, which was a good match to the super sweet topping. If sweet/salty isn’t your thing, you could scale back the salt slightly.
Much as I love gooey butter cake, Ted Drewes custard remains my favorite St. Louis dessert! Do you have a dessert unique to where you live?
Gooey Butter Cake
from Smitten Kitchen
for the cake-
-3 tbsp milk, at room temperature
-1 3/4 tsp active dry yeast
-6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
-3 tbsp sugar
-1 tsp kosher salt
-1 large egg
-1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
for the topping-
-3 tbsp plus 1 tsp light corn syrup
-2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
-1 1/2 cups sugar
-1/2 tsp kosher salt
-1 large egg
-1 cup plus 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
-confectioners' sugar, for sprinkling
1. In a small bowl, combine the milk with the yeast and whisk gently until it dissolves. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and salt. Scrape down the sides and add the egg. Alternately add the flour and the milk mixture, beating after each addition. Continue beating until dough forms a smooth mass and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
2. Press dough into a lightly greased 9 x 13 inch glass pan, spreading evenly. Cover dish with plastic wrap or a tea towel, place in a warm place, and allow to rise until doubled (2 1/2 to 3 hours). Note: mine definitely didn't double, so I proceeded with the recipe after 3 hours.
3. Preheat oven to 350F. To prepare the topping, whisk corn syrup, 2 tbsp water, and vanilla in a small bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add in the egg, beating to combine. Alternately add flour and corn syrup mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
4. Place spoonfuls of the topping mixture over the cake and use an offset spatula to spread gently in an even layer. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Cake should be golden brown on top but still liquid in the center when done. Allow to cool in the pan before sprinkling with confectioners' sugar. Cut into squares and serve.
*Best served warm; Also good at room temperature (store in an airtight container)