I know.  Gooey butter cake as the first recipe in January?  Sorry guys, I just can’t help it.  I’m not a resolutioner and, well, I really like cake.  Particularly this cake.  This recipe has been on my radar for ages, but for one reason or another, it kept getting pushed aside.  Finally after the insane blur that was the holidays and the associated frenzy of baking, I needed a break.  I didn’t make much of anything and strangely, that felt good to me for a little while.  But soon enough of course, I felt that old familiar twinge.  I needed to bake something.  Cookies are my usual go-t0, but I baked mountains of them during the holidays so even they didn’t sound appealing.

And then…cake.  A simple cake.  No layers, no filling or crumb coats.  This is what I like to call a Sunday cake.  To me, a Sunday cake is made in a square or rectangular baking pan.  It must be simple, no frills, and low maintenance.  And so, gooey butter cake was back on my radar.  I’m sure it can be inferred from the name, this cake is all sorts of amazing.  The bottom is a thin layer of yeasted dough that is covered with a gooey butter topping (shocker!)  It is best freshly made, and has a dreamy texture – some parts gooey and perfectly sweet, but with crisp, almost caramelized edges.  On subsequent days, if it survives that long, it is reminiscent of a really great coffee cake.  A few seconds in the microwave brings it back to life.  Sorry if this cake tempts you when you don’t want to be tempted.  Save it for later.  And if your resolution was to eat more cake, then you are welcome.


For the cake: 
3 tbsp. milk, at room temperature
2 tbsp. warm water (105-110˚ F)
1¾ tsp. active dry or instant yeast
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1¾ cups all-purpose flour

For the gooey butter topping: 
3 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. light corn syrup
2 tbsp. water
2½ tsp. vanilla extract
12 tbsp. (¾ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 large egg
1 cup plus 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour

Confectioners’ sugar, to serve


  • 01

    Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.  To make the cake dough, combine the milk, water, and yeast in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup.  Mix to dissolve the yeast in the water and set aside to let foam slightly, a few minutes.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, sugar and salt.  Beat on medium-high speed until light, about 2 minutes.  Blend in the egg. Beginning and ending with the flour, alternately add the flour and the milk mixture, until a smooth dough is formed.   Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and stretch and nudge the dough until it covers the bottom of the pan in an even layer.  Cover the pan with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until puffed and about doubled in volume, approximately 2-3 hours.

  • 02

    Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  To make the topping, combine the corn syrup, water and vanilla in a small bowl and whisk to blend.  With an electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Blend in the egg.  Alternately add the flour and the corn syrup mixture until just smooth, scraping down the bowl as needed.

  • 03

    Drop large dollops of the topping over the surface of the dough and gently spread the topping into an even layer.  Bake until light golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.  The edges will be brown and set, but the center will still be light and gooey.  Allow to cool briefly in the pan before slicing and serving, at least 30 minutes.  Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.


  • Clem

    Beautiful! We have a very similar cake from Britanny, France, called Kouign Aman. I used to have it all the time as a child and I always wanted to recreate it, but this version seems much easier! Thanks Annie!

  • Looks delicious! Going to try this tomorrow morning for the weekend…


  • Yep..those chewy edges are THE BEST!!!!

  • Looks great! By the way, if you haven’t already tried it, the gooey cinnamon cake in the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is really, really good. It’s similar to this, minus the yeast and plus a cinnamon sugar topping!

  • Angie

    As a St. Louisan, the “home” of Gooey Butter Cake, I cannot express enough how excited I am to see a non-cake mix version of this! I actually make Gooey Butter Cake every January/February for family birthdays, so this year I am definitely making this one! Maybe the next time I’ll be brave enough to try out variations, because my usual go-to is a chocolate bottom with chocolate chips in the gooey top!

  • annieseats

    Yes, totally agree! I always get excited by the recipe title and then am so bummed when it calls for a box mix. No longer! Love the idea of variations as well :)

  • This looks awesome!! Can’t wait to try it. I’m not a resolutioner either, so bring on the sweets.

  • Caroline L.

    I’ll resolve to eat more cake any day after seeing this! (Or let’s be honest, even not seeing this, I’m ready to shovel cake into my mouth… )

  • Angie

    For Christmas I made a Nutella one, though still with store bought mix, and nutella in the topping. So, if you’re looking for fun variations… :)

  • Jenny

    Here here!!!!! Another St. Louisan who is thrilled to find a non-cake mix version! Thank you Annie!

  • I’ve had the cake mix version and it’s overly sweet. I saw this on Deb’s website and wanted to try it asap – can’t wait to try it!

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape

    I’ve never used yeasted dough, but this seems like the perfect recipe to start with. And as someone who always resolves to eat more sweets – this will be made and enjoyed soon :D

  • Yum, I made this last week and enjoyed it immensely! It’s a definitely a perfect Sunday cake – the cake you enjoy all week long!!

  • I’ve never tried gooey butter cake, but I need to get on it. Awesome recipe!!

  • Meg

    Liz, sharing is caring, especially with your favorite study group, hint hint.

    It looks sooo delicious and awesome that it’s all from scratch, no boxed mix in sight!

  • Angela

    Ahhh….there is NOTHING better than a piece of Gooey Butter Cake and a cup of coffee to start the day! I’m not sure which is better, the crispy edge piece or the gooey middle!

  • Heather at Kitchen Concoctions

    Gooey Butter Cake is one of my favorites! I even made a pumpkin version this past fall. I am so glad you finally tried it!

  • marykay3825@yahoo.com

    Hi Annie – Hey, did you mean 12 Tbsp butter or 3/4 cup in the topping? You’ve got both listed….

  • Oh yum – I’ll take this any day over a New Year salad. ;) Happy New Year, indeed!

  • annieseats

    They mean the same thing :)

  • Just when I said to myself, “Less sugar!”. Darn you — looks to good to resist!

  • Patti T.

    This is just terrific, we used to get this at an Amish market when we would go. Every recipe I would find was the one that starts with a cake mix, and it tastes nothing like what we were looking for, this sure looks like it will be the recipe I have been looking for. Way too tempting to make, other than when we have company, since there is just the two of us here. Will definitely be on my list of things to make soon.

  • Silvia Rondelli

    So, something called “butter cake” needed just one second (not even a whole one, to be honest) to get my full, rapt attention.
    Thanks for this recipe!


  • Kelly

    I was just in St. Louis on Thursday and Friday (1/3-1/4) and happened to try some gooey butter cake (what they’re known for apparently). Loving it, I got back to my hotel that evening to see if you had a recipe for it and was somewhat saddened to see you did not. Imagine my delight this afternoon when I saw you had posted one. I guess I checked a day too early!

  • Guest

    Have you tried the butter cake souffle from Zionsville, Indiana’s Noah Grants? My husband and I absolutely love and I was wondering if you knew how to make it? i have researched online with little luck.

  • annieseats

    No, I’ve never had it. Sorry!

  • JensFavoriteCookies

    Ooh, love the idea of a Sunday cake, something easy and square! This looks particularly fantastic!

  • sneha

    Hi Annie! I dont have corn syrup. What can I substitute it with? I really want to make this delicious-looking cake.

  • annieseats

    Please see the FAQ page regarding substitutions. Thanks!

  • Loretta E

    I’ve never heard of a butter cake, but I adore butter, so I’m sure this would be a hit!

  • Pinning now. And I agree 110%, just because it is January does not mean you stop baking desserts!

  • Haley Wescott

    I made this last weekend and it was amazing! Definitely good with coffee. :) My husband wasn’t a huge fan (but he’s not big on sweets), so I had to share it with some friends – they all loved it too! I may or may not have had 3 pieces in one day. ;) This is going into my recipe binder, and I will DEFINITELY be making this again. Thank you for sharing!

  • Kelly Colby

    I am new(ish) to this blog, and I love it!! Annie, I have made so many of your recipes, and have enjoyed all of them. But this one might be my favorite so far. Delicious. I want to eat the entire cake.

  • sweettoothduo

    How amazing. One of the women in my supper club moved back to her home state of Missouri awhile back. We miss her sorely. Anyhow, she was always a big Cardinals fan. We are solid Red Sox fans. Anyhow, a friendly wager came up with the World Series. If the Red Sox lost we would send her a Boston based dessert. If St. Louis lost, she would make us a dessert. It was a win-win for me. Boston won, and I received a gooey butter cake in the mail. Wow!! I had never heard of it until then. So appropriate that you posted a recipe!!

  • Brittany

    I’ve made this cake once before and am waiting for the dough to rise as I write this post. This cake is heaven! Annie, I have to tell you that before I starting following your blog I was not much of a cook.. I was afraid to try new things! I am now known for my cooking and baking among all of my friends! I have made dozens of your recipes! You have truly inspired me! Thank you for your blog!

  • annieseats

    I love to hear that! Thanks so much for reading and for trying my recipes :)

  • Joellyn

    Great cake. My brother ate more than half of it in two days…..!!! And he’s usually not a cake person (I know, its sad).


  • Jen

    Oh. Yum!!!!!!!!!! I’m getting company on the weekend & I just might bake this beauty. Can I make it the night before or is it best when warm?

  • sick of this peon town

    My 3rd cousin made this a couple of weekends ago, it was VERY good and moist…

  • hafsa

    I just made this cake and i must say its one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. AMAZING!!!

  • SallysRock

    For anyone reading this, it is best fresh. It says so in the article.