A St. Louis classic, Gooey Butter Cake is traditionally made with a yeast-risen cake base, but to save time, home bakers began making it with a yellow cake mix, which soon replaced the yeast formula. My version – which is not as tooth-achingly sweet as most – is made from scratch, but not with yeast. The base is half cake, half crust, with buttery, crisp edges and a soft, gooey, cream cheese-based topping made with lots of butter. It’s a satisfying indulgence, St. Louis-style. If you can’t find Philadelphia cream cheese in a block, feel free to use the spread that comes in a tub (but not the whipped variety); I tried both block and spread, and didn’t notice a difference.

Makes 12 servings


Butter Cake Crust

  • 1 large (50 grams) egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
  • 2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 8 tablespoons (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted

Gooey Topping

  • 8 ounces (227 grams) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 large (100 grams) eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 cups (384 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted (plus more for garnish)
  • 8 tablespoons (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted


Make the Butter Cake Layer

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper, cut to fit, allowing it to extend about 2 inches over the edge of two opposite sides (these will be the “handles” you will use to lift the cake out of the pan).
  1. In a small bowl, whisk the egg until blended, then whisk in the vanilla.
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt at low speed until blended. Add the beaten egg and melted butter all at once and mix on low speed until a crumbly dough forms. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and press it evenly over the bottom of the pan.

Make the Gooey Topping

  1. Wipe out the mixer bowl and add the cream cheese. Using the clean paddle attachment, mix at medium speed until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary. Add the vanilla, almond extract, salt and then the melted butter, mixing until well blended. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the sifted confectioners’ sugar, mixing until well blended. Scrape the batter over the Butter Cake Crust. Bake the cake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the center is slightly wobbly, but set. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
  1. Sprinkle the cake with sifted confectioners’ sugar and then lift it out of the pan using the parchment paper overhang as handles. Cut into squares and serve.

Recommended Equipment

USA Pan Bakeware Square Cake Pan, 9 inch, Nonstick & Quick Release Coating

SMARTAKE 200 Pcs Parchment Paper Baking Sheets, 12×16 Inches


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Tish Boyle
Tish Boylehttps://pastryathome.com
Tish Boyle is the Managing Editor of Pastry Arts Magazine, a food writer and cookbook author with expertise in baking, desserts and chocolate. A graduate of Smith College and La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine, Tish has written several dessert and baking books including Chocolate Passion, Diner Desserts, The Good Cookie, The Cake Book and Flavorful. Co-writing credits include Payard Desserts and the Grand Finales series of books.


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