Will the Real Gooey Butter Cake Please Stand Up?


Gooey Butter Cake, where have you been all my life? A recipe for Gooey Butter Cake was posted in the forum recently and I knew I had to try it as soon as I saw it. GOOEY BUTTER CAKE. Are you serious? I bet God serves stuff like that on the menu in Heaven.

Amazed I’d never heard of Gooey Butter Cake before, I did a little searching around and found that it has been supposedly popularized by Paula Deen. Of course, then I had to check out her recipe.

Which one to bake, which one to bake?

Then I decided I really should bake both of them, so I held a little mini Gooey Butter Cake bake-off in my kitchen. The recipes were quite different from one another. I was intrigued.

Gooey Butter Cake #1

The recipe posted in the forum here comes from a St. Louis Junior League cookbook.

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How to make St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake:

1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and sugar to prepare the crust. Cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs and starts to cling together. Pat into the bottom and sides of a greased 9 x 9 pan.

To prepare the filling, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Mix in egg until combined. A bit at a time, alternately add the flour and evaporated milk, mixing after each addition. Add corn syrup and vanilla. Mix at medium speed until well blended.

Pour filling into crust-lined pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until cake is nearly set. Do not overcook. Let cool in pan.

Gooey Butter Cake #2

You can see Paula Deen’s original recipe here.

How to make Paula Deen’s Gooey Butter Cake:

1 18 1/4-ounce package yellow cake mix
1 egg
8 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 16-ounce box powdered sugar

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar and mix well. Spread over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to over bake as the center should be a little gooey.

I used my homemade yellow cake mix instead of a storebought mix. (Paula Deen!) I don’t know if a storebought mix would have resulted in less cake for the crust, but I found the crust to be far too thick. (I used a 9 x 13 pan, as instructed.)

But even aside from the cake crust, I had other issues with this version. The filling was far too small. Even if the crust had been smaller, the filling itself was still quite thin. And is this really a butter cake? Taking into account that the Paula Deen cake is twice the recipe size of the St. Louis version, there’s more butter in the St. Louis version. The cream cheese overwhelms the Paula Deen version. I’m not saying it didn’t taste good, but I ordered a butter cake and she brought me cream cheese bars.

And completely aside from the point, but what’s with the instructions for 8 tablespoons of butter? Somebody tell Paula that 8 tablespoons is half a cup or one stick.

I know. Now I’m just whalin’ on her.

The real Gooey Butter Cake? It’s version #1, hands-down. It was sweet, buttery, and delicious, and everything I expected a Gooey Butter Cake to be!

Okay, now who wants some butter cake? I have extra….

Find these recipes at Farm Bell Recipes for the handy print pages and to save them to your recipe box:
St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake
Paula Deen’s Gooey Butter Cake

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on May 27, 2009  

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30 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 5-27

    I’ll have some! :wave:

    It would go great with my coffee this morning.

  2. 5-27

    Oh, I am so glad you liked it! Isn’t it just amazing? I sometimes wonder if Miss Paula has ever eaten real GBC?

    Now, you need to remember this. It is fantastic the first day! It is good the second (or so I have heard) if there happen to be leftovers. But, get it out of there by day three.

  3. 5-27

    Anything with 3/4 of a cup of butter has to be good. I think I’ll make this one for our families last day of school celebration.

  4. 5-27

    Ooooo, you made it!! It looked so darned good when it was posted in the forum, it looks even better now, especially when it beats Paula Deen!

    Congrats Morgan on the NJHS! Looking very smart in those glasses!

  5. 5-27

    Too far for me to drive this morning and I’m sure it would send my blood sugar sky high. Do you think a serving would butter up Mean Rooster?

  6. 5-27

    Suzanne you are my hero! I was going to have to have a bake off at my house to see which was better, now I’ll just make the first one and be done with it. Otherwise, I’d have to make both! I confess that I have made Paula’s many times but when I saw the other St. Louis Version on the the forum, I thought Uh-oh! It sounded wonderful!

  7. 5-27

    I have made St Louis Gooey Butter Cake many times and eaten it even more times! I’m from St Louis and I have never heard of the recipe you have called ‘St Louis Gooey Butter Cake’. The one I have used, and that my friends up there use, is the Paula Deen version. It’s easy and oh, darlin!!!….it’s fantastic!
    I highly suggest making two at a time cause they don’t last very long!

  8. 5-27

    I didn’t name it that, LOL. It’s from a St. Louis cookbook which calls it St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake. If you follow the link in the post to the forum post about it, there’s a link there to the cookbook and more information about where the recipe came from.

    The Paula Deen recipe is actually pretty good, it’s just cream cheese bars, that’s all. :)

  9. 5-27

    :eating: Well, I am not willing to waste good ingredients. I will just take your word for it and stick with the St Louis version. Sorry Paula Deen–ya messed one up. :devil2:
    Maybe for Dessert/breakfast on a different weekend–we are going CAMPING this weekend! Yahoo :shimmy:

  10. 5-27

    I agree with Carol. I’m also from the St. Louis area. While I don’t have my recipe in front on me, I know I always use yellow cake mix, cream cheese and tons of powdered sugar.

    I’ll have to try Suzanne’s gooey butter cake #1 sometime.

    I’ve also recently run into a recipe for chess cake, which also seems very similar.

    Rock on, gooey butter cake!!!

    Working hard at http://www.sccworlds.com

  11. 5-27

    You are making being good on Weight Wachers very difficult!

  12. 5-27

    watchers….should proof before posting…LOL

  13. 5-27

    That “Paula Dean” version is called a “Chess Chewie” and my granny’s been making them forever. They are NOT cake, were never meant to be thought of as cakes, they’re more along the lines of ultra-rich anti-brownies, and while darn tasty, they are richer than ell and are not meant to be eaten by the faint of heart, hurt of tooth, or craver of cake. It’s almost fudge! However, wrap 1-2″ squares individually in plastic wrap and it keeps/travels well.

  14. 5-27

    Born and raised in St. Louis, Gooey Butter has always been a household favorite! It’s always funny with other people “discover” it and wonder how they never knew about it! LOL Isn’t it funny how some foods stay so regional?

    The Gooey Butter Cake originated in the early 1940’s as a mistake by a St. Louis Baker. Today it’s found in most bakeries and grocery stores in the St. Louis area.


  15. 5-27

    Gotta go try it! My sweet toothed husband needs it today! I’ll also try #1, sounds better.

  16. 5-27

    I’m afraid I never heard of Gooey Butter Cake, which is a good thing since I don’t bake. I’d be craving it all day if I had a clue!

    So I’ll just congratulate Morgan – farm girls rock!!! :purpleflower: :snoopy:

  17. 5-27

    I have banana bread in the oven. Fingers crossed!!! I will take a piece. Just send it straight to RI. Looks sooooo good. Have you seen Paula lately. I thinks she had her neck pulled – her double chin disappeard.

  18. 5-27


  19. 5-27

    I just had a piece of gooey butter cake at an ice cream social at church a few days ago. I said the same thing you did, “Where have you been all my life”. My friend Bonnie made it and she is a huge Paula Deen fan so she probably made Paula’s version. Yummm!

  20. 5-27

    I had gooey butter cake in the 70’s. My ex SIL’s mother made it..it was good!

    I love TEXAS SHEET CAKE – YUM!!!!! Chocolate (milk chocolate!),a tad of cinnamon (or not) and toasted pecans on top. HEAVEN

  21. 5-27

    Have I ever told you that you’re my hero? Because you’re my hero. Some days when it’s an awful day at work I tell myself, “When I grow up, I want to be Suzan.” Hope you’re having a great day on the farm.

  22. 5-27

    Oh my word, girl. Even though I share the same home state as Miss Paula, after reading your blog for a year or more now, I would most definitely make one of your recipes over hers anytime. Yours are tried and true! Thanks for being our personal taste kitchen. Making this cake is next on my to-do list!Destiny

  23. 5-28

    Or “Suzanne”, even? :lol:

    (Lisa’s my baby sister. I’m allowed to tease her.)

  24. 5-29

    I have to say, your “real” version looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it! I have tried Paula’s version, but not with cream cheese. My family really likes pumpkin gooey butter cakes, which is a great combo. My first time eating gooey butter cake was at the Lady and Sons and it was a sweet potato gooey butter cake, which was also fabulous. I can only imagine a pumpkin or sweet potato version of your St. Louis Gooey Butter cake…mmmmmmmm!!!

  25. 12-13

    Thank you for posting this recipe!! My husband is from Missouri and every time we visit his grandparents in the St. Louis area we always stop at Dierberg’s to pick up a gooey butter cake. I’m not a huge fan of it because it’s too rich so I make Paula Deen’s Pumpkin Gooey Butter cake to cut the sweetness. However, my husband wants me to make “real” gooey butter cake and your recipe looks like it’s the one! I’ll have to try it and see if it compares. Based on the comments, I’m sure it will be great!

  26. 12-1

    Paula’s good in taking recipes that are vintage or regional and popularizing them. She’s doing that right now with millionaire bars, which can only be a good thing;) Her problem is she makes already rich things richer.. too rich for my taste.

  27. 9-1

    This is an interesting experiment. Just looking at the picture and reading the recipes, this looks very similar to the old Southern favorite Chess Pie. It’s usually put in an unbaked pastry crust. The St. Louis crust sounds like an old one crust recipe (never fails) I’ve been using for years.

    The filling of a Chess Pie (no cheese so I don’t know how it got that name) is made of sugar, eggs, a tablespoon of flour and maybe a couple of tablespoon of milk depending on the recipe, a large amount of butter and then vanilla. Pour in crust and bake. Lemon Chess Pie (my favorite) was sent from Heaven to give us an idea of what they eat in Paradise–or so I’ve always thought. There are as many little variations of this basic combination as there are experimental cooks.

    The filling is nice and gooey and tastes of sugar, butter, eggs and whatever flavor you add–did I say lemon is my favorite? I’ve even heard of chocolate chess pie which is just WRONG in my book but beloved of some folks.

    What do you guys who’ve had both Chess Pie and Gooey Cake think? Are they similar/different…maybe cousins?

  28. 4-19

    I made gooey butter cake for the first time ever last week. I researched many recipes for this and everyone I looked at called for cream cheese and no butter in the topping. I looked in the ST Louis web site, at bakery’s in St Louis and tons of recipes from people that live in St louis. Paula’s was the only one I saw that called for both cream cheese and butter in the topping.
    Most called for yellow cake mix. There where also quite a few that the bottom was made from scratch.

    I wanted to get as close to the original that I could. So I checked tons and tons of cooking websites, recipe websites and even the St Louis webiste.

    I never heard of this until I was looking for flavors for my electronic cigarette and that was one of the flavors under desserts and cake flavors. Sounded good so I ordered it. It was good but I wanted to compare it to the real thing. The nic liquid was pretty close.

  29. 4-19

    I wonder if it’s called butter cake because the butter is put in the cake mix? :D

    I just made the Paula Deen’s cake but made it with chocolate cake mix. I saw on someone else’s recipe that you could use chocolate cake mix instead of the yellow. Can’t wait til it cools to try it. I’ve made it with the yellow and it was ok. I’m not a big yellow or white cake person. I love chocolate.

    I’ll let you know how it is.

  30. 11-30

    Thank you soooo much for this but….. I found this after I made the PD version and I am soooo not happy with this huge thing I have here!!! It says it serves 6-8 but mine serves 12-16 lol!!! This is nothing I thought it would be but I will be trying urs tmrw and thank u sooo much!

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