Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Twenty Four – Missouri – St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

Welcome to week 24 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. This week we welcome the state of Missouri, who joined the union on August 10, 1821.

If you read my post from last week (of course you did), you know that Maine and Missouri were admitted into the union as sort of a counterbalance; Maine was a non slave state and Missouri was a slave state. This was what was referred to as the Missouri Compromise. Located on both the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, it was an important state for transportation and trade in the early US. The St. Louis arch stands as a reminder that this state is the “gateway to the west”.

Missouri is a big food trivia state. I was amazed to learn that many foods that we eat today originated in this state. The first ready-mix food to be sold commercially in the US was Aunt Jemima’s Pancake Mix, which was created in St. Louis in 1899. The soda 7-Up was created by Charles Leiper Grigg of Price’s Branch in 1929. The antacid TUMS was invented in 1928 by a pharmacist named Jim Howe. And Provel cheese, a shelf stable cheese product, which is a combination of provolone and Velveeta was also created in Missouri. That last one I have never heard of, but it is apparently really big there, especially on St. Louis pizza. And my favorite, the famed statement “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, was proclaimed by J.T. Stinson in an address to the St. Louis Exposition in 1904.

Wow. So much food lore. So with all this interesting stuff, you would think there would be tons of unique foods to pick from coming out of Missouri. Wrong. I struggled with this one. Since I am not the grill master in this house, Kansas City barbecue was not going to be an option. Besides, my friend Steve is the guy to go to for all things from a meat smoker, and he would have my head if I even tried it.

And then my family seemed to scatter this evening. Hubby Matt has been out of town watching rugby and is back to the office today. Lots of catching up and all that. Josh just came off a weekend of performances of “Music Man” (remember hell week last week?), and has now immediately gone into rehearsals for “Rent”. Ugh. No one home for dinner, so I shifted gears from my original plan and settled on what seems to be a classic dessert, the St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake. Yep, the name of this dessert actually is called gooey. Legend has it that this cake rose out of an accident of ingredients. In the 1930s, a German baker mixed up his flour and sugar, which resulted in a really ‘gooey’ cake. It was really tasty and he decided to sell it, and the rest is history.

St Louis Gooey Butter Cake
A slice of St Louis Gooey Butter Cake

There are a number of different versions of this cake, including one from Paula Deen (I think she serves it at her restaurant in Savannah GA). Many used a box cake mix and/or cream cheese, both of which did not seem to be even close to an original from the 1930s. I finally found one with claims to be ‘original’ from the Heimburger Bakery (it does have a German name). Their version’s bake time was way off, and it called for butter or margarine (ick). I have tweaked it so that yours will come out delicious.

The result? Shear decadence. It is very sweet and very dense. And it is gooey. It has a distinct butter taste and the building of a crust that hugs the filling keeps it all together, almost like a pie. Because it is so rich, I am thinking I am going to have to share it around the neighborhood. It is way too much for our family of three, but I guess I will have to wait for the boys to get home and try it before I give it all away.

By the way, the other dish I was going to make tonight was also an ‘oops’ recipe. It is called toasted ravioli, and was the result of a cook accidentally dropping fresh ravioli into some seasoned breadcrumbs. Rather than toss them, he decided to drop them in the deep fryer. The result was a crunchy appetizer that is served all over the state. If anyone is around the rest of the week, I may give them a try. Stay tuned!

Here is the recipe for St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake (adapted from the Heimburger Bakery)



1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
⅓ cup unsalted butter, slightly softened


1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
⅔ cup evaporated milk
¼ cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
Powdered sugar


Make the crust:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×9-inch square baking pan with non stick cooking spray
In a medium mixing bowl stir the flour and sugar together.
Add the butter and toss to coat. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until small crumbs form.
Pat it into the bottom and slightly up the sides of the pan.

Press into pan
Press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan.

Make the filling:

In large mixing bowl cream the sugar and butter together on medium speed about 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg on low speed.
Beat in the flour, on medium speed, a third at a time alternating with the evaporated milk until smooth and combined.
Beat in the corn syrup and vanilla until well combined.
Spoon into the crust and spread evenly. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until cake is golden brown all over, set around the edges but still slightly wobbly in the center when the pan is shaken. Don’t overcook!
Cool in pan on wire rack. Sprinkle more confectioners’ sugar and cut into squares to serve.

Enjoy! See you next week in Arkansas.





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