My friend Anne, who is from the aforementioned "St. Louis," recently got married (to a guy from Pennsylvania, but I believe in Pennsylvania - they have airport hubs there), and at the wedding, they gave away St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake as a thank you gift. When Anne first told me this I imagined all her mom's friends slaving over hot ovens in July and then delicately transporting hundreds of ooey, gooey cakes from the midwest to Massachusetts and putting them into our greedy hands. What actually happened is that somebody bought a bunch of Gooey Louie cakes in bulk and put them in pretty boxes for us. So now I know one more thing about St. Louis: they have prepackaged gooey butter cakes so you can take them home from 7/11 with you after a long day at work. And the St. Louis area code is 314.
Brown presents gooey butter cake as one of the two Missouri cakes (the other is 7-Up Pound Cake). He explains that what makes it so gooey is that it's basically a butter cake with a cheesecake poured on top and then baked together. Because of this, the cheesecake topping seeps in and down the sides and makes the rest of the cake, which is already rich and delicious, pretty gooey.
I guess the gooey butter cake was first invented by a guy named Johnny Hoffman who accidentally added the wrong proportion of ingredients to a cake and ended up with baked, but gooey cakes. The problem wasn't the gooey-ness, it was that he liked them so much that he wanted to be able to recreate them, but didn't know what he had done. He called in his friend Richard Danzer and together they came up with what is now known as St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake. And we thank them.
I baked these last week in honor of a BBQ I was going to be attending with some cousins. Who else to inundate with overly sugary, fatty goodness than family?!
As mentioned above, these are literally made with two separate batters. First you make a butter cake recipe with butter, shortening, buttermilk, vanilla bean seeds, some flour, sugar, milk, eggs, baking powder and salt. Once that is mixed up and in the cups (I made cupcakes), you then mix together cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, eggs, and milk. Brown also gave variations to add to the cheesecake mixture. I did half chocolate (which involved adding melted bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate, and some more butter), and half with peanut butter (for that you just added peanut butter).
Brown said the recipe would yield 18 cupcakes, but I got about 26 out of it. I assume either I was using smaller cupcake tins than he was, or I did something wrong (either option is a possibility). The cheesecake topping was also really soupy, almost pure liquid, which was a bit weird, and I ended up with a lot more of it leftover than I expected. Basically, by the time I put these things in the oven, I was pretty sure they were going to be a bust and I was going to be showing up to the BBQ with a store-bought cake and a scowl.
I was wrong though! They came out awesome. The top set right at the same time that the bottoms were cooked through and the result was literally a gooey cake that was rich and sweet and delicious. The peanut butter version were definitely the better option of the two, but I had no problem moving either flavor. In fact, there were about eight of us at this BBQ, and I came home with two cupcakes, and those were mostly because I ran away with them before they were absconded with.
The pictures are subpar because they were taken outside at night with an iPhone, but you should get the idea.
Next Stop: Texas sheet cake!