St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

During my first year of recipes, I made a St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake and promised myself that I would make another one some time. The baking time given in the recipe I made several years ago was far too long, so the cake turned out tasty but far less gooey than it should have been.

This year I decided to finally make it again. I wanted to make one for my friend Jen for her birthday. As a bonus, I could count it for bread for Bread Week 34 since it took yeast.

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St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake
 
adapted from an Old St. Louis Bakery recipe in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • ¾ stick unsalted butter (6 tbsp), at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp sugar (could possibly use more)
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1¾ cup flour
  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter (12 tbsp), softened
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup corn syrup
  • 1½ tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • ¼ cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup cake flour
Instructions
  1. The recipe says to proof the yeast in the milk, which you heat to 100F. I did this and added a pinch of sugar to help the yeast grow. It's difficult to get the yeast to dissolve in milk, though, so if your kitchen is warm or you're not concerned about proofing the yeast to be sure it's alive, skip this step and add the yeast to the dough with the flour.
  2. In your stand mixer, use the paddle attachment on medium speed to beat together the ¾ stick butter with the 3 tablespoons sugar and the ¾ teaspoon salt until it is light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides, then add the one egg and beat for about a minute. Scrape down the sides again, then mix briefly to be sure everything is incorporated.
  3. Add ⅓ of the flour (and yeast, if it's not mixed in with the milk) and stir briefly on low to combine. Scrape down the bowl, then add ½ of the milk. Scrape down the bowl again, then repeat. Add the remaining ⅓ flour and stir briefly to combine. Switch to the dough hook, then beat on medium-low speed for 5 minutes, until the dough is elastic.
  4. Butter or grease 2 8-inch square or 9-inch round pans, or one 9x13 inch pan. Press the dough into the pan, stretching it out to the edges. You can form an edge with the dough if you'd like. Try to get the dough very even, as the differences will become greater as the dough rises. If the dough is resistant, you can let it rest for a few minutes and it will be easier to stretch out. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rise for about 2 hours.
  5. When the dough is almost done rising and you're ready to bake the cake, cream the 1½ sticks butter with the 1½ cups sugar, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ cup corn syrup in the stand mixer on medium for 3 minutes, using the paddle attachment. Scrape down the sides, then add the vanilla and 2 eggs. Beat until combined. Scrape down the bowl again, then add the ¼ cup milk and the cake flour on low speed. Scrape down the bowl to be sure everything is combined.
  6. Dollop the topping evenly on the dough, spreading it almost to the edge. (The topping will melt and spread in the oven.) Divide it evenly between the two pans if using. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes if using 2 pans, or 30 minutes if using the 9x13 inch pan. The topping will be golden brown. The center will still jiggle in the center (perhaps even to the point of seeming a little liquidy), but it will gel as it cools.
  7. Let the pan cool completely, then dust with powdered sugar.

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The gooey butter cake was pretty tasty. With only 30 minutes of baking time, the topping was definitely much more gooey than several years ago. Flavor is… sweet. Mainly vanilla. The cake part itself was a little dry, and I’m not sure how to fix that. Less rising time, or more butter or more sugar, perhaps? In any case, the cake layer isn’t very exciting if you don’t have it with the goo. I personally preferred the edge pieces as they set up the best, but Alex thought the center pieces had more goo since I made the edges of the cake slope up. The cake won’t last very long, and not just because you’ll eat it quickly. It can’t be any more gooey than it is on the day you first make/serve it, so the cake will begin to dry out. Plan to eat it within the first few days after you make it.

I’ve compared this to lemon bars without the lemon flavor before, and I think that comparison still stands. It’s definitely a dessert worth trying.

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