Food Friday: Gooey Butter Cake
Welcome to another post in my St. Louis Food series in which I highlight some of my hometown’s famous foods.
Many of you have probably never heard of gooey butter cake, so allow me to explain. Gooey butter cake is a dense cake made with cake flour, butter, and eggs and covered in powdered sugar. This ridiculously sweet cake is native to St. Louis and was originally meant to be served as a breakfast pastry or coffee cake instead of a dessert. Thank you, middle America, for making outrageously unhealthy foods a tradition.
I’m not much of a sweets person (unless it’s ice cream) but even I enjoy a few bites of gooey butter cake from time to time. If you’re a real sugar fiend, you might be able to manage a larger piece of this melt-in-your-mouth dessert, but I’ve yet to find someone who can devour large quantities of this cake which is actually more sugar than butter, despite its misleading name. Gooey butter cake is insanely sweet, but it’s also very addicting. It’s pretty common for people to throw down their fork, clutching their belly and declare that if they eat another bite they will die but then go back for “one last bite” a few moments later. It makes you wonder if it’s powdered sugar or crack on top of that gooey mess.
If you are visiting St. Louis, gooey butter cake is a must. I would not, however, recommend eating it for breakfast. I would suggest getting this cake as an end-of-the-day treat. Trust me, this cake is best eaten in front of the television or at least while lounging on the couch in sweat pants. You can pick up a pan of gooey butter cake at basically any grocery store, but to get the full experience, you’ll want to get your cake from a professional. Here are my two favorites:
Gooey Louie – This place takes gooey butter cake so seriously, that they don’t make anything else. You can go with the classic flavor, or branch out and try one of their original creations. The every day flavors include: Chocolate Chippewa, Hwy 40: Still Drivin’ Me Nuts!, Let’s Go Blueberries, Chocolate Raspberry, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Turtle Park. Throughout the year, they also serve up several seasonal flavors such as Cherry, Key lime, What a Lemon!, Pumpkin Spice, Amaretto, and Red Velvet. I give them bonus points for creative names, many of which are St. Louis references.
Park Avenue Coffee - If you’d like to sit down and have some coffee with your gooey butter cake, this is the place to go. They offer over 60 varieties, but you’ll need to call ahead to check for availability. Some of the flavors include: Amaretto, Banana Chocolate Chip, Butter Pecan, Carrot Cake, Triple Chocolate, White Macadamia Nut, and many more.
So next time you are in St. Louis and want to taste a St. Louis original treat, get yourself a gooey butter cake. It’s simple, delicious, and a must-taste St. Louis food.