News flash for the guinea pig

May 17, 2015

Gooey butter cake, chess cake, whatever you call it, it's good.

Gooey butter cake, chess cake, whatever you call it, it’s good.

Y’all have read of my Memphis guinea pig, who visits periodically and allows me to try out all sorts of new and experimental recipes on him. And, bless his heart, happily eats anything and pronounces it good. (Personally, I think he periodically lies through his teeth, but I do love him for it.)

Anyway, he’s a native of St. Louis. As such, he is a devotee of Imo’s Pizza, Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, and Budweiser. (Thankfully, NOT Bud Light.) And St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake.

Well, dearest Guinea Pig, here’s a news flash for you: I CAN MAKE ST. LOUIS GOOEY BUTTER CAKE!

Truth be told, I’ve been making said cake for years, but I didn’t know it was St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake. I knew it as “Chess Cake,” which was also odd, because it bore relatively little resemblance to a chess pie, but they’re at least in the same universe. I don’t know why I’ve never made it for him, other than never having made the connection between the two, and the fact that I don’t make “big” desserts too often because I’m not a huge sweets eater.

But when our church had its barbecue, and I needed to make two cakes that were relatively simple to cut, plate/plastic bag and transport, I knew I wanted to make a pound cake, and I decided a Chess Cake aka Gooey Butter Cake would be a good second choice.

And when I got it there, once things got going, there was a buzz. “Somebody made a Gooey Butter Cake!” Honestly, it took me a while to figure out “somebody” was me.

These things are simplicity itself. You do need a mixer, or a whisk and a helluva right arm, but that’s about it. Thusly:

Mix a yellow cake mix (I generally keep at least one box of Duncan Hines Butter Recipe on hand, because it’s the basis for my favorite pound cake) with an egg and a stick of melted butter. Mix until the cake mix lumps are gone. Press the resultant dough fairly evenly into a 9 x 13 pan.

With a mixer, blend an 8-ounce block of cream cheese, two more eggs, a teaspoon of vanilla extract and four cups of confectioner’s sugar until it’s perfectly smooth. Pour it over the cake mix dough layer, and spread it out with a spatula.

Bake it at 350 for 30-ish minutes, until it’s golden brown on top, and sprinkle the top with confectioner’s sugar, if you want. If I do that — and generally I don’t think of it — I use a strainer and put a couple of tablespoons of sugar in it, then tap the side as I move it over the cake. Let it cool completely before you cut it.

This is so sweet it’ll make your teeth hurt. But damn, it’s good.

I’ve had a similar dish in Philadelphia, billed as an Amish Butter Cake, but it was …. different, somehow. I offered to marry a bakery proprietor in Burlington, NJ, for the recipe, but he wasn’t having it. I was mortally offended, and also recipe-less. So I’ll stick with my St. Louis version.

So, dear Guinea Pig, know that St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake is on the menu when you’re next here. Meanwhile, I made one today to practice on.

You could be here in an hour, y’know.

It’s getting to be picnic and church pot-luck season, so if you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em need a dessert recipe — use this one. It’ll be a big hit. Guinea Pig and I promise you.

 

 

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3 Responses to “News flash for the guinea pig”

  1. cleavelin Says:

    I have never lied (through my teeth or any other part of my anatomy) about anything you’ve made for me. Now, it may be the case that some dishes you’ve made for me have been better than others, but that’s only to be expected. (And notice, I’ve deliberately stayed away from anything, like sweet potato dishes, that I know I’m not going to like.)

    And besides, you’ve introduced me to the wonders of sous vide cookery. I can’t not love that, especially since I can do it myself, too.

    I look forward to sampling your gooey butter cake. 🙂

  2. Kath the Cook Says:

    Hi Kay – still checking in. Enjoying the posts.

    do you think the powdered sugar in the cream cheese topping could be reduced some without disappointing results?

  3. kayatthekeyboard Says:

    Hard to say. It could….but it would reduce the volume of the topping, which would be a thinner layer. You might could increase the cream cheese and eggs and cut back the powdered sugar and achieve the same thing. I don’t think it would hurt the taste at all.


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