Gooey Butter Cake

Gooey Butter Cake

When I was researching recipes that St. Louis was known for, I remember consistently seeing gooey butter cake. I thought, gooey and butter? This has to be on the menu! It sounded like it would be a fabulous dessert for the party we held!

I have to admit, I was a little thrown because part of the cake involves yeast. I’ve honestly never baked a cake with yeast before, so I was worried about how this cake would taste. Yeast just screamed bread to me, and bread isn’t really what I would consider to be dessert. However, this cake wasn’t bread-like at all in the end! The bottom yeasty layer was more like a cookie with a warm gooey layer of sweet goodness on top. It was especially fabulous with a scoop of ice cream, and I think this cake would even be more amazing with summer berries!

Gooey Butter Cake
Source: Smitten Kitchen, from The New York Times


For the cake

  • 3 tablespoons milk at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

For the topping

  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling.


  1. In a small bowl, mix the milk with 2 tablespoons warm water. Add the yeast and stir gently until the mixture dissolves. The mixture should slightly foam while mixing.
  2. Cream the butter, sugar and salt in a mixer, and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the egg. Once that is mixed in, alternate between adding the flour and the milk mixture, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition. Once everything is well mixed, switch to a dough hook on your mixer and knead the dough for an additional 7 to 10 minutes.
  3. Stretch and spread dough by hand into a buttered 9×13 glass dish. Lightly cover dish with plastic wrap or clean towel, put in a warm place, and allow to rise until doubled, which is about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
  4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  5. To prepare the gooey butter topping, in a small bowl, whisk corn syrup with 2 tablespoons water and the vanilla. Cream butter, sugar and salt in a mixer until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes, and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the egg. Once the egg is mixed in, alternate between adding the flour and corn syrup mixture, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition.
  6. Using a spoon, add the topping in large dollops over the risen cake layer, and use an offset spatula to gently spread it in an even layer. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until it has a golden brown top. The cake will still be liquid in the center when it is done baking. Once the cake is cool in the pan, sprinkle on confectioners’ sugar and enjoy!


  1. um, wow. this looks sublime. you had to post it the day i start a new diet, huh?! j/k!! seriously, though, you always find/create the BEST looking recipes. also, i LOVE the fabric in the tablecloth (napkin? placemat?) in the shot with the cake. precious.

  2. A recipe very similar to this is one of my husband’s favorites! His grandmother made them when he was little and he named them “yum yum cookies”. So now, once a year or so, he whips up a batch and they are indeed quite yummy :)

  3. YUM!!! I’m trying extremely hard to be good (health-wise), so these may need to go on the back burner for a bit, but I’m saving them for later!

  4. Umm, yeah you had me at gooey butter as well :)

  5. I’ll be right over. No seriously. Save me a piece! 😀

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