Gooey butter cake is a decadent treat originating in St. Louis, Missouri, in the 1930s. Legend has it, a local St. Louis baker was trying to make a classic German cake batter but accidentally reversed the proportions of butter and flour. Since ingredients were scarce at the time, the baker chose to bake the cake anyway, and the result was gooey and delicious. The squares were sold to customers, and the recipe became an instant hit.
Gooey butter cake is typically prepared in a 9x13 pan and cut into squares to serve. The texture is dense and gooey, as the name implies. It is typically dusted with powdered sugar and served similar to a coffee cake. It can be made from scratch using cake flour, butter, sugar, and eggs. However, a shortcut version using yellow cake mix and cream cheese was later developed for home cooks to easily prepare at home. Either way, the result is a sweet and rich cake that can be cut into pieces, similar to a brownie.
- For the Base:
- 1 (15.25-ounce) box yellow cake mix
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
- 1 egg
- For the Filling:
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese (softened)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- Garnish: powdered sugar (for sprinkling on top)
Gather the ingredients. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
In a large bowl combine the yellow cake mix, 6 tablespoons of melted butter, and the egg.
Press the base into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.
In the large bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese, 1/2 cup of melted butter, two eggs, vanilla extract, and salt.
Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
Pour the filling over the crust and bake until golden and puffed—about 40 minutes. Do not overbake. The center should still be gooey and not yet completely set.
Cool completely on a wire rack.
When ready to serve, dust with additional powdered sugar. Cut into 12 squares and enjoy!
If you love gooey butter cake made with a cake mix, just wait until you try some of the variations.
- Chocolate Gooey Butter Cake: use a chocolate cake mix and reduce the powdered sugar by 1/4 cup and add 1/4 cup of cocoa powder instead.
- Strawberry Gooey Butter Cake: use a strawberry cake mix and add sliced fresh strawberries on top before baking.
- Red Velvet Gooey Butter Cake: use a red velvet cake mix.