St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

Though we had many forms of butter cake to choose from, we opted for the yeasted base (as a nod to its kuchen beginnings) and for a butter-rich filling (because we’re staunchly pro butter). For a twist and a boost of warm nutty flavor, we added browned butter to the mix. The result is a custard cake that’ll remind you of Old-World decadence and new-world innovation, just like the original.

St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake
Makes 24 servings
  • ¾ cup (170 grams) plus 6 tablespoons (84 grams) unsalted butter, softened and divided
  • 5 tablespoons (75 grams) warm whole milk (105°F/41°C to 110°F/43°C)
  • 2 teaspoons (6 grams) active dry yeast
  • 1½ cups (300 grams) plus 3 tablespoons (36 grams) plus
  • ¼ teaspoon (1 gram) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1½ teaspoons (4.5 grams) kosher salt, divided
  • 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 large eggs (100 grams), room temperature and divided
  • 3½ teaspoons (14 grams) vanilla extract, divided
  • 3 tablespoons (63 grams) light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) water
  • Garnish: confectioners’ sugar
  1. In a medium stainless steel skillet, heat ¾ cup (170 grams) butter over medium heat. Cook until butter turns a medium-brown color and has a nutty aroma, 7 to 11 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl; refrigerate just until firm, 1 to 1½ hours. Let stand at room temperature until ready to use.
  2. Butter a 13x9-inch baking pan; line pan with parchment paper, letting excess extend over sides of pan.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together warm milk, yeast, and ¼ teaspoon (1 gram) granulated sugar. Let stand until mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat 3 tablespoons (36 grams) granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon (3 grams) salt, and remaining 6 tablespoons (84 grams) butter at medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add yeast mixture, 1¾ cups (219 grams) flour, 1 egg (50 grams), and ½ teaspoon (2 grams) vanilla; beat at low speed just until combined, 30 seconds to 1 minute, stopping to scrape sides of bowl as needed. Increase mixer speed to medium, and beat until dough is well combined and elastic, 4 to 5 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. (Dough will be tacky but should not stick to hands.) Press dough into prepared pan in a thin layer. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  6. Clean bowl of stand mixer and paddle attachment. Add browned butter, remaining 1½ cups (300 grams) granulated sugar, and remaining ½ teaspoon (1.5 grams) salt; beat at low speed just until combined. Increase mixer speed to medium, and beat until fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Beat in remaining 1 egg (50 grams); scrape sides of bowl.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together corn syrup, 2 tablespoons (30 grams) water, and remaining 3 teaspoons (12 grams) vanilla. With mixer on low speed, gradually add remaining 1¼ cups (156 grams) flour to butter mixture alternately with corn syrup mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition, stopping to scrape sides of bowl as needed. Spread batter onto dough in pan.
  8. Bake until top is set and edges are golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes. (Center should still seem soft and jiggly and look lighter than golden brown edges.) Let cool completely in pan. Using excess parchment as handles, remove from pan, and cut into 24 (4x1-inch) servings. Garnish with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.



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    • You can store it an airtight container at room temperature for up to four days, or up to 1 week in the refrigerator!

    • Hi Angie! We have not tested this recipe as a gluten-free recipe, and since this is a yeasted dough we’re a little reluctant to recommend a way to make it GF without testing it first. We’d hate to make a suggestion to you that didn’t work out well! Our best recommendation is to search online for gluten free gooey butter cake recipes. There are several around that use different combinations of flour, so you’re sure to find one that uses a mix you’re familiar with or may already have at home! We’re sorry we could not be of more help.


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