Gooey Cake: Controversy at Its Worst

Gooey Cake: the one with cream cheese and a yellow cake mix

This very well may be the post that loses me half my followers.

I am about to open a can of worms that, once opened, may never be closed again.

I mean, this is REAL controversy, folks!

I am going to tell you that this in fact, is not Gooey Butter Cake, even though Paula Deen said it was.

Gooey Cake: the one with cream cheese and a yellow cake mix

How can I dare to blaspheme like this?  Well, you see, Gooey Butter Cake is native only to St. Louis, MO.  If you happen to ever visit, you must make a point to find a bakery and buy some.  It won’t look like this.  It won’t taste like this either.  It’s more of a yeast based cake with a purely butter gooey-ness on top.
I will concede that what I made is indeed gooey.  And it is a cake, of sorts.  But it is more the cheater version than the real McCoy.


Gooey Cake: the one with cream cheese and a yellow cake mix

This is cake mix based with a cream cheese concoction on top.  And even though, I am saying that this isn’t the real thing, the recipe that I used did come from a St. Louis cookbook.  In fact, the cookbook had about six different variations of this cake.  And it is really, really tasty. But it is not Gooey Butter Cake.

Gooey Cake: the one with cream cheese and a yellow cake mix

So, I am calling this Gooey Cake.  I am leaving out the “Butter” part.  It salves my conscience.  I hope you all will take it as a compromise.

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Gooey Cake: Controversy at It's Worst
  • 1 yellow cake mix
  • ½ cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 3 eggs, divided
  • 1 8 ounce brick cream cheese
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Stir together the cake mix, melted butter and 1 egg.
  2. Pat into the bottom of a greased 9 X 13 pan.
  3. With a mixer, blend the remaining eggs with the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla.
  4. Pour on top of the cake mixture.
  5. Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 30-40 minutes.
  6. (you want the topping to still be gooey, not completely set so the time depends on how hot your oven is).
  7. Let cool and then store in the fridge.
  8. Dust with powdered sugar if you want to cover any unsightly cracks.

I have seen this recipe with more and less eggs, more powdered sugar and with a homemade base. It’s all good.

PS I hope you know that this is all in fun.  After doing a 7 links post earlier this summer and not being able to come up with a good food based controversy, I decided to invent one.

22 thoughts on “Gooey Cake: Controversy at Its Worst

  1. I have made this with apples and peaches…most any cake mix flavor with the corresponding fruit is delicious…Spice cake mix with apples is yummy! 😛

  2. On the Gooey Cake recipe it says to separate the eggs
    But it says to put 1 egg for the crust- is that a whole egg? Or just the yolk?
    Then says to mix remaining eggs for the filling again do they mean just the egg whites?
    Looks good but recipe a bit confusing
    Please advise
    Thank You

    1. Hi Debra, the recipe says 3 eggs, divided. I meant that you will use one for the crust and the other two for the filling. In each instance, you will use the whole egg. I hope that helps!

  3. Hi. I totally agree with you. This is not a Gooey Butter Cake. They’re call “Gooey Bars”. I’ve been making this since 1982 when I cut the recipe out of the newspaper. They had a weekly series of recipes that had five or fewer ingredients. The only difference is that it uses 4 eggs (two in the cake part and two in the gooey part). I, myself, found the 4 cups of powdered sugar too sweet so I’ve always cut it down. But hands down, this recipe is terrific. It’s one of my most requested. People mistake them for lemon bars, which, of course, they’re not.

    Thanks for posting and thanks for the clarification.

    p.s. Try it with canned pumpkin…. they’re wonderful!

  4. Butter cake is most definitely a Philadelphia thing. Tough to find other places. Nice to know it’s available in MO. and I agree, this is not the real thing, but in a pinch, it will do!

  5. I was born, raised and live In St. Louis, MO. I ran across this recipe with a wonderful pic of it. I decided to share it because it looks good and it is something different. You are, in fact, absolutely correct. This is NOT a gooey butter cake….Paula Dean is from the south….NOT from St. Louis, and apparently not an expert on a true gooey butter cake. Gooey Butter Cookies are delicious, as well!!!

  6. St. Louis Style Gooey Butter Cake

    This coffee cake is a St. Louis tradition where the cake is the crust which holds a buttery cream cheese filling. This is the true way that we, St. Louisans, make it!!!

    Prep time:15 min. Cook time:40 min.

    1 Box Yellow Cake Mix
    1 large Egg
    1 Stick butter or margarine, melted
    8 oz cream cheese, softened
    2 large eggs beaten
    2 cups powdered sugar

    Preheat oven to 325°
    Combine cake mix, 1 egg and melted margarine or butter. Press into a greased 9×13 pan . Blend, cream cheese, 2 beaten eggs, and powdered sugar until smooth. Spread over first layer. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until edges are brown. Dust with powdered sugar after cake is cool.

    1. I was born and raised, and still live in, the St. Louis area, and the Traditional Ooey Gooey Butter Cake did not use Cream Cheese and a Cake Mix as is now popular and made more popular by Paula Deen and the TV “Cooks”. Kristen has posted a link to another version of the Gooey Butter Cake and it is closer to the Traditional one I grew up eating. The St. Louis Post has a couple of recipes that are close to the Traditional cake too, and you can find a few more doing a search, but the old Bakeries never used Cream Cheese or Cake Mix. Those types are quick and easy and now popular in some of our Newer “Bakeries” around town.
      Don’t get me wrong, I too have made these cream cheese Gooey Butter cakes, in many different versions. They are popular and good, but not Traditional. Nothing beats the Original or Traditional version.
      No matter what…Both types are yummy. Thanks for posting!

  7. So…as you can see…the recipes are very close…but we do TRY to watch SOME calories by not using soooo much sugar!!! Lol!!! Enjoy!!

  8. How can I find the original recipe for gooy butter cake. A bakery called b&z’s in Sprinfield Ill. made an incredible one but their out of business . Any ideas?

    1. Karen I know exactly what your talking about. I had a bakery in Springfield IL in the 80’s and I would always get calls from people who wanted B&Z gooey butter cake. I researched and found the cake was a snack in schools in the 50 ? in Springfield, hence so many memories. I even contacted a relative of the B&Z owners, he said it was a yeast bread base with an egg custard like topping that were baked together….sadly the owners had retired and refused to share their recipe. I am still interested in finding this recipe…maybe someday someone will share the “true Butter Cake” Recipe…

    1. Hi Katy,
      I did a little quick research on the web and have found that many people use a lemon cake mix in the crust and add a little lemon juice to the filling and call it “lemon gooey cake.” My lemon square recipe ( is from Cooks Country/America’s Test Kitchen and is the traditional lemon curd type with the shortbread crust. I hope that helps.

  9. I’ve been making this 20 years and didn’t get it from Paula Deen. We call them cream cheese bars. so many names but all delicious 🙂

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