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St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

Don’t you hate it when you find out about something that you should have done or tried at a particular place after you’ve been there? This pretty much sums up how gooey butter cake came into my life.

Six years ago, I found myself in St. Louis taking an orchestra audition. While lots of preparation goes into audition trips, most of it is spent practicing and then on finding the cheapest travel deals. It probably would have been wise to have figured out some interesting things to do in St. Louis, or at the very least, some interesting things to eat. You can safely assume that gooey butter cake wasn’t in the stars…or on my plate.

buttery, sugary dollops.

Four years later, I found out what I missed when Deb of Smitten Kitchen posted a recipe for it. Her description made it sound irresistible: “Think spun sugar. Cotton candy. Toasted campfire marshmallows. The burnt sugar lid of the best crème-brulee you’ve ever had, the kind that took five spoon taps to break through.” Yowza. Since crème-brulee is one of my sister’s favorites, I decided to make a gooey butter cake for her birthday. Win-win?

not gooey yet.

For anyone unfamiliar, two layers make up this cake. The bottom is a yeasted dough, and the top (prior to baking) seems like a cross between sugar cookie dough and cake batter. Oh, and there is a lot of butter, mainly in the top…as in, only 3 tablespoons shy of 3 sticks of it.

I made this the day before serving and wish I had tried it on the first day when it was freshest. It was tasty, but not in a life-changing way. It kind of reminded me of a simple yeasted coffee cake. And actually, in reading the recipe comments, one person said that left over gooey butter cake is commonly eaten for breakfast in St. Louis. A buttery way to start your day, I guess…

St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

If you’d like to make it yourself, go for it! It’s fairly easy to make if you don’t fear yeast (don’t fear yeast!). By the way, the only thing I did differently from the recipe was sub golden syrup for the corn syrup. Next time I’ll halve the recipe because it sure made a lot.

And while I didn’t get any gooey butter cake or a job in St. Louis, at least I got a requisite photo: