This homemade Gooey Butter Cake is a St. Louis original made with a yeast crust and topped with a sweet and gooey butter cake mixture.

You can serve gooey butter cake for dessert or serve it as a type of coffee cake for brunch alongside a simple quiche or breakfast casserole.

A 9x13 pan of baked gooey butter cake with a spatula removing a piece.

 

It’s a real shame that it took me moving to Saint Louis before I ever heard about Gooey Butter Cake. The stuff is pure gold! Gooey butter cake is a dense but chewy (and of slightly gooey in the center) cake that originated in Saint Louis, Missouri.

I became all too familiar with this delicious dessert after living there for 6 years! Gooey butter cake has the perfect amount of sweetness and I can never stop at just one slice!

What I LOVE about this recipe:

  • It’s made from scratch! Many “gooey butter cake” recipes use cream cheese and a yellow cake mix. What a tragedy; That is not how the original Saint Louis gooey butter cake is made! This Gooey Butter Cake is a true baker’s recipe made with a homemade yeast crust and sweet filling.
  • The yeast crust. The crust for this recipe is essentially a type of dough, but don’t let that turn you off because it bakes into a crust that’s amazing! The crust of this recipe is what sets it apart, and trust me, you’ll love ti!

Gooey Butter Cake in 6 steps:

1. Proof the yeast mixture. Combine yeast, sugar and warm milk. Set aside for 5 minutes.

2. Make the crust. In a stand mixer cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the yeast mixture, egg, salt and flour and mix.  Knead for 7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and has pulled away from the sides of the bowl.

3. Press in pan and let rise. Press the dough into a 9×13” pan. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours.

Amixing bowl with dough, next the dough pressed into a 9x13 baking dish.

4. Make the topping.  Whisk together corn syrup, water and vanilla. In a separate bowl cream butter, sugar and salt. Add egg. Add a little of the flour, alternating with adding the corn syrup mixture, until both are combined.

5. Drop topping on dough/crust.  Drop large spoonfuls of topping all over the risen dough. Use a spatula to gently smooth it into an even layer.

6. Bake at 350 F for 35-40 minutes until the top has set and is golden brown. The center should still seem soft when it comes out of the oven. Allow it to cool on a wire cooling rack to room temperature.  Serve gooey butter cake sprinkled with powdered sugar on top.

Gooey butter cake topping added on dough in pan and then baked.

To Make ahead:  Gooey butter cake can be made up to 3 days ahead of time, though I think it is best made the day of or 1 day ahead of time.

To store:  Store gooey butter cake covered, at room temperature, for 3-4 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

To freeze:  Allow the cake to cool to room temperature and then decide on a freezing method.  I like to cut gooey butter cake into smaller bars and place them in a gallon freezer ziplock bag.  This way, I can thaw just one piece at a time.  You can also freeze the whole cake by covering the pan (as long as it’s aluminum and not glass) in plastic wrap or tinfoil and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.

A spatula removing a slice of homemade gooey butter cake from a white 9x13 pan.

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Recipe

A 9x13 pan of baked gooey butter cake with a spatula removing a piece.
Prep 2 hrs 10 mins
Cook 40 mins
Total 2 hrs 50 mins
Add to Meal Plan

Ingredients
  

For the crust:

  • 1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3 Tablespoons + ¼ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup warm milk
  • 6 Tablespoons butter , room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

For the topping:

  • 3 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 12 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Instructions
 

  • In a small bowl combine yeast, ¼ tsp sugar and warm milk. Set aside for 5 minutes. 
  • In a stand mixer cream together the butter and 3 Tbsp of sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the yeast mixture, egg, salt and flour and mix on low until combined. 
  • Increase speed and mix/knead for about 7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. 
  • Press the dough into an ungreased 9x13'' baking dish. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours. 

For the topping:

  • Whisk together light corn syrup, water and vanilla until combined. 
  • In a separate bowl cream together the butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  • Add egg, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add a little of the flour, alternating with adding the corn syrup mixture, until both are combined. 
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Drop large spoonfuls of topping all over the risen dough. Use a spatula to gently smooth it into an even layer. 
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top has set and is golden brown. The center should still seem soft when it comes out of the oven. Allow to cool on a wire cooling rack to room temperature. 
  • Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar.  This cake is best enjoyed the day it is made.

Video

Notes

Make ahead:  Though I think gooey butter cake is best enjoyed the day it is made, it can be made up to 3 days ahead of time.
To store:  Store gooey butter cake at room temperature for 3-4 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
To freeze:  Allow the cake to cool to room temperature and then decide on a freezing method.  I like to cut gooey butter cake into smaller bars and place them in a gallon freezer ziplock bag.  This way, I can thaw just one piece at a time.  You can also freeze the whole cake by covering the pan (as long as it's aluminum and not glass) in plastic wrap or tinfoil and freeze for up to 3 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 319kcalCarbohydrates: 42gProtein: 3gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 139mgPotassium: 48mgSugar: 22gVitamin A: 480IUCalcium: 16mgIron: 1.3mg

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Recipe adapted from NY Times

Have you tried this recipe?!

RATE and COMMENT below! I would love to hear your experience.

I originally shared this recipe October 2015. Updated November 2019 with clearer instructions and new photos.

Saint Louis Original Gooey Butter Cake recipe made from scratch! One of my FAVORITE cakes, and this recipe is the real deal! !

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Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe was amazing! I am more of a chocolate lover by heart but my husband loves gooey butter cake so i gave this a try! It was chewy, soft and just amazing! We enjoyed it for days and it almost got better with time :).

  2. 5 stars
    I grew up in St. Louis and Love Gooey Butter Cake. I am so glad to see you do not put cream cheese in it. this is the best cake ever. thank you for the recipe.

  3. I’m confused by the sugar amounts in the cake portion of the recipe. Is it cups or teaspoons and tablespoons?

    1. The sugar amounts are:
      1/4 teaspoon sugar is added to the yeast mixture to help feed the yeast. This amount is not listed in the ingredients. Yeast feeds on sugar
      3 tablespoons sugar is for the cake base.
      1 and 1/3 cups sugar is for the topping.

  4. Dennis, I believe there is a typo in the recipe. The 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar is for the filling. The cake should only have 1/4 teaspoon of sugar.

  5. 5 stars
    Excellent

    My dough didn’t rise much and I missed most of the butter from the topping (Keeping it safe from Cats!) but it didnt make any difference. Maybe a slightly more caramelised top occurred, but base was fine. Subbed Honey for the corn starch.