Gooey butter cake is a simple two-layer snack cake with a fluffy, sumptuous top layer on the bottom and a delicate, almost short-bread-like layer on the crumb. It originated nearly a century ago in St. Louis, Missouri, and is similar to other regional treats such as the southern Chess Squares and the Philadelphia Style Cake. I made my half-homemade version in which I use a bottom layer cake mix, but if you prefer, you can make it. Inside a gooey cake are 2 layers, this one is a yellow cake at the bottom, and a layer lined with cream cheese icing at the top. The bottom layer will be a little firm, but the top layer is the melt-in-your-mouth velvety heaven.
With its unusual hybrid structure — a crispy-chewy base, a fantastically sticky, sweet filling, and a snowy blanket of powdered sugar, it was simply not possible to build a book of home-baked Heartland favorites without it. The problem was that most of the recipes available call for boxed yellow cake mix, pudding mix, and other instant ingredients that many bakers would prefer to do without. As it turns out, the most common “gooey butter cake” versions are just shadows of what this Midwestern classic means. Some people serve it as a coffee-cake, others as a dessert.
(1) package yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 (8 ounces) package cream cheese
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1. Preheat oven at about 175 degrees C (350 degrees F).
2. Add the cake mixture, the melted butter or margarine, 1 tsp of vanilla, and 2 tsp of eggs, then pat into a 9 x 13-inch pan.
3. Add and mix the cream cheese, 2 eggs, and 1 tbsp of vanilla with an electric blender. Slowly beat sugar in the clothes maker. Pour over top of the cake.
4. Bake at about 40-45 minutes and allow it to cool.
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