What’s Cookin’ – St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake (3 Version Bake-Off)

Believe it or not, Gooey Butter Cake is not a Southern recipe nor is it originally a Paula Deen recipe even though it is featured as one of her recipes on Food Network and in her new cookbook, Southern Cooking Bible.

Gooey Butter Cake originated in St. Louis, MO, in the 1930s.  The original bakery, owned by a John Hoffman, hired a new baker who accidentally inverted two ingredients resulting in a gooey cake that became a best seller in bakeries throughout the St. Louis area.

If you live in St. Louis, you will find three different recipes for Gooey Butter Cake that appear regularly in the local newspaper, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and in various local cookbooks.  The Junior League of St. Louis has published the original Gooey Butter Cake recipe that many local bakeries still use.  This original recipe was provided to them by Fred and Audrey Heimburger of Heimburger Bakery and has also been published in the Post.  You can see the Junior League of St. Louis post here.

Most of us use a cake mix version (as does Paula Deen).  Its ingredients include cream cheese and lots of powdered sugar, which are not found in the original recipe (except for the powdered sugar dusted on top).

There are three popular recipes, and I decided to make all three and use my friends and DSH’s co-workers as guinea pigs to taste test them and decide which version is the best.

All three recipes call for a cake-like crust base along with a filling layer on top that remains gooey after baking, thus the Gooey Butter Cake name.

Three versions, three sets of ingredients – from left to right #1 is the Original St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake (Heimburger Bakery), #2 is the St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake (Cake Mix Version), and #3 is St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake (Kaldi’s Coffeehouse Version).

Step One – make the crust and press it into the metal baking pan.

Note:  I prefer a less gooey Gooey Butter Cake and would make Version #2 in a 13x9x2 inch pan normally.  I used the smaller pan as that is what the original recipe called for.

Step Two – make the filling and pour it onto the crust layer.

Note:  Version #1 calls for dusting with powdered sugar prior to baking.  I dusted prior to baking and again after cooling.

Step Three – bake, cool, and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Note:  Versions #1 and #2 call for baking in a 350° F oven, but Version #3 is baked in a 300° F oven.  Next time, I will bake Version #1 for a little less time as it continues to cook outside of the oven and ended up not being as gooey as it should have been.

Three versions – ready to eat.

Taste Test Results:

The Original Gooey Butter Cake is a denser and less sweet version from the ones most of us are used to eating.  It was not as gooey as the other two versions.  When I make this version again, I would make sure not to cook it as long so that it remains gooey.  Those who aren’t big Gooey Butter Cake fans seemed to prefer this one.

Several people preferred the cake mix version #2 because it was really gooey and sweet.  If you like a gooey butter cake that is a little less gooey, then be sure to use a 13x9x2 inch pan.  If you like it gooey and sweet, use the 9x9x2 inch pan.

The Kaldi’s Coffeehouse version won the most votes overall.  It is slightly less sweet and less gooey than the standard cake mix version that most of us make at home.  Many people preferred the texture and slightly less sweet taste than version #2.  It was also my favorite.

Thank you to all of my taste testers!  Make a Gooey Butter Cake soon.  They are yummy!

 

 

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14 Responses to What’s Cookin’ – St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake (3 Version Bake-Off)

  1. Diane says:

    You can make this gluten free by using a gluten free cake mix, so everyone can enjoy! Theresa’s oldest daughter tried it first for one of our family get-togethers and it was a nice surprise for those of us who can’t eat the ‘real’ version.

  2. Martha says:

    Thanks Mama….I will try version 3 since that won the taste test. I see it also uses a cake mix.

  3. Marifran Heiligenmann says:

    Thanks, Theresa! I made a 9″ square cake for Christmas morning, using a 9 oz. box of JIFFY Golden Yellow Cake Mix (available at Shop ‘n Save) and 1 egg, 1/2 stick of Butter for the crust, 4 oz. Cream Cheese, (1/2 of an 8 oz. pkg.) 1-1/2 cups Powdered Sugar, 1 egg, 3/4 tsp. Vanilla for the filling.

  4. Jane Lohman says:

    This is one of the things I always try to get when I come home. Gooey Louie and I are very good friends! Theirs are not quite the same as the old Lake Forest Bakery in Clayton, but I still like them. I make recipe number 2 when I really need a fix, but it isn’t like my friend Gooey Louie. Now I have a few more recipes to try out! Who needs BBQ when you have quality food like toasted ravioli and gooey butter cake!!!

    • Mama says:

      I’ve noticed that a lot of the chains that sell Gooey Butter Cake make a “drier” version like the original recipe. Nothin’ like good gooey butter cake and toasted ravs!

      Mama

  5. I made this for our “goody day” at my job and now every week my work foodies beg for more… they love this wonderful cake as do my family. Thank you for these recipes.Totally awesome! REL

    • Mama says:

      Thank YOU for following my blog and commenting! Which recipe did you use – the Kaldi’s one is our favorite and the one I am asked to bring to a silent baking auction every year! The same person bids on it and wins it every year, too.

      Mama

  6. Florence Nolte says:

    Why doesn’t anyone mention the BEST Gooey Butter Cake from St. Louis Pastry on Meramec Street (which is now known as Dutchtown). They were in business for years and years, 1940’s through the 1970’s. They also made the best Coconut Toast and Peanut Coffee Cake. Does anyone know what happened to those recipes. The Bakery was the place you stopped in the morning on your way to school (we walked) to St. Anthony of Padua. I give anything for a reply.

  7. Gramaw says:

    I am from St. Louis but now live in Savannah, GA. I make a Gooey Butter Cake at least 1x a month to keep the family happy. My recipe is just slightly different and is tastes just like the version they sell at the Lake Forest Bakery in Clayton. One thing that is rarely mentioned is this: No matter what recipe you use, to get a “perfect” gooey cake you have to bake it perfectly and use the correct size GLASS pan. The tins that are used by, say, Schnucks, create a dry edge (so everyone fights over the middle pieces). I’m making my first chocolate gooey butter today, because I’m having a chocolate craving AND a gooey butter cake craving. LOL Hoping it turns out!

    • Mama says:

      Good luck on the chocolate gooey butter cake! You can make any flavor you like – I’ve even heard of key lime – but the regular yellow flavor is my all-time favorite! I often use the tins when making the Kaldi’s Gooey Butter Cake which is requested for every silent auction hosted by a non-profit to which I belong, and they work just fine. I actually prefer the drier corner pieces!

      Thanks for visiting and commenting!

      Mama

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