Grub Americana

Killeen’s St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

Butter cake

Molly Killeen, owner of Made By Molly, is a St. Louis native who for years was pastry chef at NYC’s renowned Amy’s Bread. This recipe is said to have come from the original bakery of gooey butter cakes.

Yield: 16 to 24 servings

Whatcha Need:

For the Base:

  • 1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 5 Tablespoons milk
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon salt, preferably kosher
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-3/4 cup. all-purpose flour

For the Topping:

  • 3 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • powdered sugar, for sprinkling.

Whatcha Do:

  1. In a small bowl, mix the yeast and 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Warm the milk for a few seconds in the microwave, and stir into the yeast/sugar mixture. Let stand for about 5 minutes. It should start to bubble up. If it doesn’t, the yeast is inactive. Discard it and begin again with fresh yeast.

  2. Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter, remaining sugar and salt. Scrape down the bowl and beat in the egg. With the mixer on low, add the yeast/milk mixture and the flour. Raise the speed to medium and beat until it forms a smooth mass and pulls away from sides of bowl, 7 to 10 minutes.

  3. Lightly spray a 9-inch x13-inch baking pan or dish at least 2 inches deep with cooking spray. Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the pan and form a slight edge of dough around the rims. Cover with plastic wrap or lint-free towel, put in a warm place, and let rise until doubled. This can take anywhere between 1 to 2 hours, depending on the ambient temperature.

  4. Preheat oven to 350ºF

  5. While the dough rises, prepare the topping: In a small bowl, mix corn syrup with 2 tablespoons water and the vanilla until they are thoroughly combined. Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the egg. Turn the mixer to low and beat in the corn syrup mixture and then the flour, scraping down the sides of the bow as needed.

  6. Spoon the topping in large dollops over risen dough, then use a spatula to gently spread it in an even layer. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes; cake will rise and fall in waves and have a light golden brown top, but will still be liquid in center when done. Cool in the pan before sifting powdered sugar over the top for serving.