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.

  • Yield 1 9 x 13-inch cake


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.