Gooey Butter Cake

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Created in the 1930s when a now-forgotten St. Louis baker mixed the wrong ingredients for a cake but decided to bake it anyway, gooey butter cake is a low-rise pastry with a tender crust around the edge and a middle that is custard-soft and supersweet. Center cuts are dripping-moist; outside segments tend to be a balance of gooeyness and plain cake. It is a continuing passion in St. Louis … but nowhere else. This recipe is for traditional gooey butter cake, but local bakers have invented 1000 variations, from chocolate raspberry to funky monkey.

crust ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1 stick butter, softened

filling ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1 stick butter, softened

1 egg

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup evaporated milk

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

powdered sugar

            Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 8x8x1-3/4-inch baking pan. To make the crust, combine the flour and sugar. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs and starts to cling together. Pat this mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. If you are not making the filling right away, refrigerate this crust.

            Prepare the filling by beating the sugar and butter until they form a light paste. Mix in the egg. Alternately add the flour and evaporated milk, mixing after each addition. Add the corn syrup and vanilla extract. Mix at medium speed until well-blended. Pour the batter into the crust-lined baking pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

            Bake 40 minutes. The cake will test “not done” in the center, and it will remain gooey as it cools in the pan. Forks are required!

            9 servings.

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