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Gooey Butter Cake History:
This cake consists of
a dry, flat base covered with a "goo" mixture. It is sticky and chewy and very
delicious. This ultra-sweet treat is a St. Louis tradition and available in local bakeries
all around the city of St. Louis. The original cakes are made with a yeast
raised sweet dough on the bottom, but now days most recipes use a cake on
It is generally served as a
type of coffee cake and not as a dessert cake.
The Gooey Butter Cake originated in the 1930s. According to legend, a German baker
added the wrong proportions of ingredients in the coffee cake batter he was making. It
turned into a gooey, pudding-like filling.
Check our the following two different family stories on the
creation of the Gooey Butter Cake:
Information from Richard Danzer (November 22, 2006) - Saw your web site and
thought you may want the real story on gooey butter cake:
late 1942 or early 1943, Johnny Hoffman of St. Louis Pastries Bakery
was working on a Saturday and made what eventually turned out to be
Gooey Butter Cake. You're right, it was a mistake! He subsequently
called Herman Danzer, my dad, and told him he thought he may have
something and asked to come to my dad's shop on Spring & Gravois to
see if they could duplicate it.
They worked all Saturday, and through many trials and errors got it
pretty good. The final batch they made, my dad suggested they add
glycerin to get it really gooey. It worked - whereupon my mom,
Melba Danzer, came into the shop from the store to see what these
two guys were doing. When she tried it she said "this sure is
gooey" subsequently, the name.
mom is still alive and, although the Baker's Co-operative is now
disbanded, most of the former members get together twice a year for
a dinner. I had the privilege of attending the last one while I was
in town. The oldest active baker is, if I recall correctly, 96. Also, I believe the Master Retail Baker's Assn. has disbanded.
trust this will help clarify the origin of Gooey Butter Cake. The
information above is the extent of what I have - having grown up in my
fathers' (Danzer's Bakery) bakery - both on Spring & Gravois and later
on Taft & Gravois across from the Granada Theatre. Shortly after a near
fatal illness in 1956/1957, my father went with PVO/Blanton rising to
National Sales Manager and ultimately had as his customer base
McDonalds, Burger King, Entenmens, etc. He co-authored a recipe book
utilized by Baker's across the nation.
The information I have is from my mother who
worked with him all those years from 1939 to 1957. My father,
Herman Danzer, passed in 1997. My mother, approaching 89, does not
have his recipes nor would she have any way of proving the "Gooey
Butter Cake" origin. Until it's disbanding a few years ago, she
remained a member of the Master Retail Baker's Association of
Greater St. Louis as they were vested members and stock holders.
This is the best I can do for you, so, the true
story will remain a matter of conjecture.
(2) Information from Marilyn (Koppe) Galati, West Chester, OH
(October 30, 2008) - My granddaughter sent me your website because she would
like to learn more about her great grandfather's contribution to one of the
best cakes ever. Our following family history will add to the confusion of who invented or
first made the Gooey Butter Cake:
My father, John Koppe, a St. Louis baker, also developed the Gooey Butter
Cake in the early 1940s. My father was a Master Baker, and he owned and
operated Koppe Bakery during World War II on California and Arsenal
Streets in South St. Louis. His shop was located on the corner of two
major bus lines, so people who were transferring would often stop in
while waiting for their bus.
The Gooey Butter Cake was a smash hit
with customers. The lines of customers spilled out the door and around
the block. This cake was very gooey, rich, and exceptionally delicious!
I remember that the goody butter cake is best described as very
"GOOEY." You could eat it with a spoon! The top was sprinkled with
powdered sugar and the edge was slightly crispy to hold it together -
almost like a pudding. It was baked in a square shape and, of course,
was light colored, like butter.
Following the end of the war, dad sold
his business and went to work for the St. Louis Pastry shop on Meremac
and Virginia streets for Marge Langer. It was there that he gave them
the recipe and it too, sold like hotcakes. I also worked there as a
clerk in the storefront.
As far as I know, my father "created"
the gooey butter cake. I was a child then and do not remember the year
but it was well before 1950 (I know this for sure). There is no proof
that I know of about the creator of the recipe, but it could have been
an accident. My father was friends with a lot of the other Master Bakers
in the city, so I imagine they shared recipes and tips. They were all
members of the same union. Both of my parents are deceased and no
records were kept. It's all just childhood memories. I was just a child
then, but remember how the store would be packed with customers, and the
popularity of the Gooey Butter Cake. His recipe may have varied from the
others in production. The cakes produced today do not taste anything
Gooey Butter Cake Recipe:
This recipe is from my cookbook,
I'll Have What They're Having - Legendary Local Cuisine, by Linda Stradley.
Yields: 9 servings
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 40 min
1 (18-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups powdered (confectioners')
Powdered (confectioners') sugar for dusting top
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
In a large mixing bowl, combine yellow cake mix, egg, and
butter. Press mixture onto bottom of prepared baking dish; set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until creamy; add the 2
eggs and vanilla extract. Blend in powdered sugar until well mixed. Pour
batter into the crust-lined baking pan.
Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until cake is nearly firm when you
shake if (you want the center to be a little gooey, so
do not over cook the cake). Remove from oven and let cake cool in the
cake pan on a wire rack.
When cool, remove to a serving plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
If making ahead of time, refrigerate in an airtight container up to one day.
Makes 9 servings.