CHEW THIS! Gooey Butter Cake

The following “Chew This!” column originally appeared in “The Courier-Times” and / or “The Shelbyville News”. Check their websites for further information and dates.

Gooey Butter Cake, not the original

Blaise Doubman

I shared a recipe here in my column several months ago for a chocolate version of the popular gooey butter cake and people went crazy! I guess I had thought that everyone had heard of this version, but I was mistaken. That got me to thinking recently about how I had never actually shared a version of the gooey butter cake that most people would call the “original” flavor. While this version is the “original” flavor that most people associate with gooey butter cake, this is not the original, in definition, of the classic southern dessert. The actual classic southern dessert does not contain a cake mix and is made in a totally different way that the recipe I am sharing here with you today. Most people, at least those within the last 10 years, associate the gooey butter cake with the infamous TV personality, Paula Deen. The gooey butter cake was one of her staples that started her Bag Lady business and was featured on her TV show.

Food historians and foodies alike will tell you though, that Paula Deen was not the creator of this dessert. The actual creation of this dessert was in the 1930’s by a St. Louis chef who was making a cake and accidentally reversed the measurements of the flour and sugar. The original dessert had a yeast-raised sweet dough at the bottom. Nothing at all like the sweet butter, cream cheese, egg and powdered sugar mixture of today. You can still find gooey butter cake on menus across the United States but depending on what region of the US you are in; you may be surprised in what you may be served. Awhile back, White Castle even offered their version of the gooey butter cake, and the Indiana State Fair had a fried version a couple of years ago. Out of all the versions I have had though, this is my very favorite. I like it cut and then chilled, served straight from the refrigerator. The flavor and texture of this is unlike any gooey butter cake you may have had in the past because of the extra pure vanilla extract and the salted butter. You can use unsalted butter in this recipe but if you do, be sure to add a couple of pinches of salt to the crust mixture and the filling to reach that perfect flavor combination.

Gooey Butter Cake

These are best kept chilled, then brought to slight room temperature before enjoying.

For the crust…
1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick salted butter, melted
1 large egg

For the filling…
1 stick salted butter, melted
8 oz cream cheese
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick baking spray containing flour.

In a large bowl make the crust by combining the dry yellow cake mix with the melted butter and large egg. Pat this mixture into the bottom of the pan.

In another large bowl beat together the melted butter and cream cheese.

Add in the large eggs and pure vanilla extract. Combine well.

Beat in the confectioner’s sugar.

Pour on top of crust and spread evenly.

Bake in preheated oven 48 minutes. Be careful not to over bake! The center will still be jiggly when it is done baking.

Let rest at room temperature until cooled.

Wrap with aluminum foil and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Remove, cut, dust with powdered sugar and serve.

Ask and Answer: I received a few questions about my previous column for the applesauce cake recipe I shared. First, there was a question about serving the cake without the caramel frosting. That is perfectly fine! The cake can be served with frosting, without, dusted with powdered sugar or even served warm alongside a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Secondly, there was a question about adding eggs to the recipe. This would be a bad idea. It would simply throw off the chemical component to the recipe and would cause an error in the cake. There is no need for eggs in that particular cake recipe. There was also a question about adding in all spice and apple pie spice to the cake. This may be possible but is best left with just the ground cinnamon.

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