Put the words “gooey” and “butter” in front of cake, and you simply can’t go wrong. At least that what people in St. Louis think. St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake is 70-year source of city pride and the fortuitous outcome of a baking mishap.
“No one knows exactly how this cake came to be,” says Dale Schotte, owner of Park City Coffee, in St. Louis, which sells more than 70 flavors of this custard-like cake, “but I like the version from the 90-year-old wife of the baker who is supposedly responsible.”
Sometime in the late 1930s or early 1940s, the owner of Danzer’s Bakery in south St. Louis was making his Deep Butter Cake when he accidentally reversed the amount of sugar and flour. The outside of the cake was cooked but the center was gooey. Danzer set aside the failed cake and finished his baking, but later that day he decided to taste his flop. It was so good, he spent a significant amount of time trying to recreate the mistaken quantities. The cake was an immediate hit at his bakery.
How did it become a citywide sensation? Danzer’s Bakery shared the recipe through the St. Louis Baking Association, and a regional specialty was born.
Schotte, who opened Park Avenue Coffee five years ago, along with his sister Anne, uses the recipe their mom gave them. And, due to customer response, they’ve added more than 70 flavors to the original recipe, which is still four times more popular than any other. Cake lovers can order a ready-to-eat cake or a cake mix by going to parkavenuecoffee.com.
St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake
1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
4 cups powdered sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Mix cake mix, melted butter, 1 teaspoon, vanilla, and 2 eggs with a spoon. Pat into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
3. Mix cream cheese, remaining 2 eggs and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla with an electric mixer. Slowly beat in powdered sugar. Pour over cake layer.
4. Bake 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool. Serves 12.
Per serving: 363 calories, 14g fat, 84mg chol., 4g prot., 56g carbs., 0g fiber, 315mg sodium.
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Photo credit: Teresa Blackburn