Bready or Not: St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

Posted by on Aug 9, 2023 in Blog, Bready or Not, cake | Comments Off on Bready or Not: St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

A disclaimer straight up: there are many variations on this recipe, and mine is based on a version published in Bake from Scratch Magazine. I can’t say how it compares to others out there, but I can say with confidence that my recipe here is DELICIOUS.

Bready or Not: St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

There are a lot of steps here but the progression is straightforward. In the old European style, this consists of a yeast cake base with a varied top. Both layers are sweet, soft, and chewy, but in distinct ways. You can see that in the pictures.

Bready or Not: St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

This cake is also rich. Not the kind of thing you need a big slice of. I recommend cutting it into finger-sized portions, as some shortbreads are also cut.

Bready or Not: St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

Bready or Not: St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

This cake isn’t messy gooey (unless you underbake), but soft and chewy in a complex way. This is a regional dessert out of Missouri with many variations. This one is heavily modified from Bake from Scratch Magazine January/February 2019.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cake, yeast bread
Author: Beth Cato


  • stove pot
  • 13×9 pan
  • aluminum foil
  • nonstick spray or butter
  • stand mixer
  • uneven spatula


Browned butter:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter

Base dough:

  • 5 Tablespoons whole milk or half & half, warmed to 105-110-degrees F
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon white sugar yes this is a tiny amount to feed the yeast
  • 3 Tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste


  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg room temperature
  • 3 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour


Brown the butter:

  • In a stove pot, heat the 3/4 cup butter on medium, stirring often. Cook until the butter is medium-brown with a nutty aroma, which takes about 7 to 10 minutes. Set aside to bring to room temperature.

Make the dough:

  • Line a 13×9 pan with foil and apply nonstick spray or a coating of butter.
  • In a small bowl, mix together warm milk, yeast, and 1/4 teaspoon sugar. Let stand about 5 minutes. It should become foamy.
  • In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix more base dough ingredients: white sugar, kosher salt, and remaining butter, beating for about 3 to 4 minutes until they become creamy. Stop and scrape the bowl as needed. To that, add the yeast mixture, flour, egg, and vanilla. Raise the speed to medium and beat until everything is combined and elastic, about 4 to 5 minutes, scraping the bowl on occasion. The dough should be tacky but shouldn’t stick to hands.
  • Press the dough into the prepared pan in a thin layer. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm spot in the kitchen until it doubled in size, about 2 hours. In the meantime, clean the mixer bowl and paddle attachment.

Make the topping:

  • Preheat oven at 350 degrees.
  • To the mixer bowl, add the browned butter, white sugar, and salt, beating to combine, then raising the rhythm to medium to beat until fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Beat in the egg.
  • In a separate small bowl, whisk together the corn syrup, water, and vanilla. With the mixer on low, add the flour to the butter mixture alternatively with the corn syrup mix. Scrape the bowl as needed. Use an uneven spatula to spread the topping over the risen dough.
  • Bake until the top is set and the edges are golden brown, anywhere from 25 to 35 minutes. The center can still be a touch soft and jiggly. Let cool completely in pan, chilling in fridge if desired. To cut, use the foil to lift the contents onto a cutting board. Slice into finger sized (1×4) portions.