I tasted my first piece of gooey butter cake back in 2015 on a trip to NYC and I have literally been dreaming about it ever since. It was something I had never encountered, and this sweet confection with the most wonderful texture sent me directly to food heaven. Crispy on the top, gooey in the middle and with a light base, this was all I could have dreamed of in a baked good. It came from Gooey & Co and they sell them in bite size portions which are really all you can manage at a time. I also met Matt the owner/founder/chief baker, and I instantly became a fan.
I did some research and discovered it originates in St Louis and the cake was supposedly first made by accident in the 1930s by a German American baker who was trying to make regular cake batter but reversed the proportions of butter and flour. This was a flop that went well and so they kept on making it. The same thing happened with the tart tartin so it all makes perfect sense.
I found a few recipes that use yeast in the base component of the dish and others that use a cake batter, but they all seemed rather complicated so when I found this recipe, I decided it was the one I would go with to make my first gooey butter cake. It also claimed to be THE BEST gooey butter cake in the world and from a respected blogger who clearly knows what’s she’s talking about. I also liked the idea of the shortbread type base.
I’ve adapted the recipe to make it metric, upped the vanilla a smidge and used already ground almonds as this is readily available. Why ground your own when it’s not necessary. Otherwise, I followed it pretty exactly. I also did add the almond extract because I love the flavour of almond but this is optional. I think this is a good cake to play around with adding flavours and I can image a lemon rendition being very delicious too.
I warn you that this is incredibly rich and you are advised to cut very small squares of it. One friend who ate it refers to it as the BTS cake (better than sex) so I’ll just leave that there for you to ponder on. It’s kind of a mash up between a pasteis de nata, malva pudding and shortbread.
All round it’s a winning recipe and reminded me of the piece I tasted from Gooey & Co at Smogasburg in Williamsburg. Not exactly the same but as close as.
The recipe makes one tray around 23 x 32 cm or 9 x 13 inch or so. Very slightly adapted from A Spicy Perspective
For the Bottom Layer:
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup almond flour (ground almonds)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 170gms butter, melted (12 tablespoons)
For the Top Layer:
- 250gm (8 ounces) cream cheese
- 3 large free-range eggs
- 550gm (4 cups) icing / powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almonds extract (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180C / 350 degrees F. Line a 23 x 32 cm or 9 X 13 inch baking dish with baking paper.
Add the flour, sugar, almond flour, baking powder, and salt to a food processor and mix briefly to ensure all the dry ingredients are well combined. Add the eggs and butter and mix until you have a soft crumbly like dough.
Tip this dough into the lined baking pan and spread evenly across the surface. Don’t press down to firmly, you just want to lightly cover the surface.
To make the top layer wipe the same food processor bowl and add the cream cheese, and mix until it has softened. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until it is well combined, stopping to scrape down the bowl as necessary. You should get to a lump-free and smooth consistency similar to condensed milk.
Pour the mixture over the bottom layer and place on the middle rack in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes. I found, 55 minutes worked well in my oven. At 60 minutes the bottom started to over brown. The top will be golden in colour and have a few cracks on the surface. If necessary cover the tray loosely with a piece of foil from around halfway through the baking time to prevent over browning (* I generally always do this).
Allow the gooey butter cake to cool completely before removing from the tin. To speed up the cooling, pop it in the fridge or freezer for a short while. A firmer cake is easier to slice.
Add a dusting of powdered sugar for decoration.
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