I grew up in St. Louis where the best gooey butter cakes could be found in little bakeries dotted around the city.
At the age of 14, I secured a part time job working at a family owned traditional German bakery around the corner from my home.
Not only did they make the best gooey butter cakes in South St. Louis, they also had a deep dish butter cake, not as chewy or rich, but still sinful.
On Saturday mornings we would sell so many gooey and deep butter cakes I would lose count.
When I moved to Dallas in the early 1980s, I couldn't find gooey butter cake anywhere. Eventually I managed to bribe one of my friends whose father also owned a German bakery to give me his secret gooey butter cake (thanks Jane).
Over the years I've played around with the recipe and added my own spin, which my friends prefer to the original recipes.
Karen Marie Shelton's Best Gooey Butter Cake
You can make this gooey butter cake with either a store bought standard sized yellow cake mix or a homemade yellow cake made from scratch.
Whether you use a box cake or a scratch cake, the Gooey Butter Topping is identical. Be sure to make the topping before you make the cake, setting it aside to be added to the cake right before baking.
How To Make Gooey Butter Topping
Remember, the Gooey Butter Topping has to be added to the top of the cake before it's baked.
1 - 8 ounce cream cheese softened - room temperature1 - standard 16 ounce (1 pound) box of powdered sugar (separate 2 tablespoons and set aside)
2 eggs beaten1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Directions For Mixing Gooey Butter Topping
Using an electric mixer (or similar) combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, 2 beaten eggs and vanilla until completely blended with no lumps.
Set the mixture aside and make the cake topping. Once the cake is mixed add the gooey butter topping to the top of the cake mixture.
Spread the topping evenly on top of the cake mix.
Use a spatula for spreading to make sure the topping is evenly applied across the entire top of the cake.
Gooey Butter Boxed Cake Ingredients
1 stick of real butter - softened. Do not use margarine. The goal of the cake is to make it super rich.1 box - standard size super moist yellow cake mix*
1 medium sized beaten egg (yellow and yolk)
*Note: Betty Crocker Supermoist Cake Mix - Yellow, (15.25 - 18 ounces) standard mix is usually very moist when it's not overcooked.
How To Make Box Cake Mix Even More Moist
Most traditional box cake mixes call for oil, which is the cake's fat component. Substitute real melted butter instead of oil for a much richer cake.
The box cakes usually call for vegetable oil because it's easier to use rather than taking the time to melt butter.
The reality? It's really not much more work to melt some butter. Butter adds a richness and depth of flavor most boxed cake mixes are missing.
Butter and vegetable oil are both fats, why not use the one with the best taste?
Combine softened butter in a mixing bowl with the super moist cake mix and 1 beaten egg.
Pat the mixture into a previously greased, floured, 9 x 13" pan.
The mixture should have the consistency of sticky dough. Press mixture into pan. Use a spatula.
Note: If you prefer, press with clean fingers. Either method will do the trick.
Optional Gooey Butter Boxed Cake Tip
As an optional tip, you might want to consider sprinkling the top of the cake with a light dusting of white or brown sugar.
Sprinkling the top of the cake with sugar not only gives it a sweet crunchy texture, but the weight of the sugar prevents the cake from rising too much while it bakes.
The goal of a gooey butter cake is to keep it dense so sinks down into the bottom of the pan.
Pour the cake batter into the cake pan and sprinkle the top with sugar.
It’s important for the cake to rise, but you don’t want it to rise too much where you lose the gooey factor.
Gooey Butter Homemade Yellow Cake Mix - From Scratch
If you don't want to use a boxed cake mix, the following scratch cake mix works very well with the Gooey Butter Topping.
Remember, always make the Gooey Butter Topping first before you make the cake since it has to be spread on top before baking.2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups of sugar1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/2 cup non-fat powdered milk1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup water1/2 cup butter, softened (real butter, not margarine)
3 fresh eggs
Note: If you don’t like using dry milk you can leave it out of the mix. When making the cake, if you wish, replace the 3/4 cup of water in the recipe with whole milk.
Cake Mixing Instructions
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and non-fat dry milk (optionally you can skip dry milk) in a large mixing bowl.
Add water (or milk), vanilla, softened butter, and eggs.Combine with an electric mixer (0r similar) then beat two more minutes.
Pour into a greased and floured 13" x 9" pan cake pan .
Note: Optionally you can use 8″ or 9″ square or round cake pans, cupcakes or a tube/bundt cake
Gooey Cake Baking Tips
Bake for 30-45 minutes until golden brown on top. Cooking time is estimated. Watch the cake closely, at least until you successfully bake your first cake since every oven is different.
Bake boxed cake for 35-40 minutes at 325 degrees in a preheated oven (preheat oven 15 minutes before baking)
Bake scratch cake for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees in a preheated oven
Test to see if the cake is done using a toothpick. When the toothpick is clean, remove cake from oven and cool on cake rack.
Alternative Pans For Gooey Butter Cake
Always use a 13 x 9" pan for the best gooey butter cake results.
The cake ideally should be eaten in small squares since it's very rich and extremely messy.
If you want to try alternative baking pans the suggested cooking times may vary.Consider the following baking times for alternative pans:
- 8″ or 9″ round or square cake pans — 20-25 minutes- cupcakes — 12-15 minutes (makes approximately 1 dozen)
- tube/bundt pan — 45-50 minutes
Removing Cake From Oven
Take the cake out when it turns a medium to dark golden brown on top. You should notice the cake has sunken and set, which is normal.
There should be a paper thin sugar "crust" which forms while the cake is baking. The crust is the top layer of sugar hardening which is what will turn golden brown. It adds great texture.
Cut into squares, but only after cake is completely cool. If you try to cut squares while the cake isn't cool, they are impossible to cut.
Refrigeration is optional. I personally like it at room temperature.
Sprinkle the top of the cake, at the end, before cutting, with the 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar. You can add more if you prefer.
Other Gooey Butter Cake Baking Tips
Place a large cookie sheet on the rack below the cake as it bakes.
Sometimes when you use a cake pan with less depth (4" deep is best), the cake bubbles up and spills over.
The cookie sheet will spare your oven!
Experiment until you find the exact consistency you desire. Enjoy!Warning: This cake may not be appropriate for anyone on a sugar or caloric restricted diet.
Summary - Best Gooey Butter Cake
Gooey Butter Cake is a famous dessert in St. Louis, Missouri. The delicious rich dessert starts out with a very dense yellow "cake-like" base which forms a type of crust. The cake is filled with a mixture of powered sugar, butter and cream cheese.
A traditional gooey butter cake includes fresh eggs, real butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar.Enjoy!