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The Most Delicious Accident in St. Louis

An Inside Look at Gooey Butter Cake

Accidents can be a good thing. Just look at St. Louis’ famous delicacy, Gooey Butter Cake. This cake lives up to its name—it’s just as buttery and gooey as you can imagine. In the early 1940s, a St. Louis baker named Johnny Hoffman mixed up the proportions of ingredients while making a variation of a pound cake, called a deep butter cake. The cake didn’t rise properly and there was a great deal of sugar caramelization around the edges. Hoffman tried to recreate this cake with his friend, Herman Danzer. It was Danzer’s wife who coined the cake’s name, when she stated, “It’s good, but it sure is gooey.”

Flash forward to 2006, when Park Avenue Coffee opened its doors. Because it’s a local shop, owner Dale Schotte wanted to serve local fare. “What’s more local than Gooey Butter Cake?” says Schotte. Today, Park Avenue Coffee is serving up 73 different flavors of gooey goodness- and that’s not including seasonal varieties. “Mom’s Traditional” (Schotte's mother's recipe!) is the original and most popular flavor, but Park Avenue is always experimenting with new variations on this traditional delicacy. “We use whatever is in season. Apples in the fall, or pumpkin gingerbread during the holidays,” says Schotte. “After 10 years, I still love it. Every time there is a new recipe, we [employees of Park Avenue Coffee] try it and put our input in,” says Schotte when asked if he ever get sick of eating Gooey Butter Cake. “Almost 11 years later, I still love it.”

You don’t have to live in St. Louis to indulge in this tasty treat. Gooey Butter Cake mix is available for purchase online. Or, if you prefer to skip the middle man, you can have any flavor of Gooey Butter Cake sent directly to your door.  

And that’s exactly what I did. Not one to pass up cake of any kind, I decided it was absolutely imperative that I try this gooey-buttery confection. In fact, after speaking with Dale Schotte, Gooey Butter Cake was the only thing on my mind. (For research purposes, of course.)

First order of business was to attempt to create the Gooey Butter Cake, using the mix. The flavors I had in my possession were Mom’s Traditional and Double Chocolate. I already had all of the necessary additional ingredients I already had in my kitchen—eggs, vanilla and cream cheese. The preparation directions on the box were simple and within 45 minutes I was eagerly staring down my first Gooey Butter Cake with anticipation, waiting for it to be cool enough to slice into squares. What does it taste like? It tastes like it sounds. Gooey and butter and cake. All good things.

I was very satisfied with both flavors of the cake after baking them. But how would I know if my Gooey Butter Cake tastes like the real Gooey Butter Cake? While baking the cakes was a fun way to spend my snowy afternoon, I knew I must try the real deal. So I did. I tried Mom’s Traditional, Triple Chocolate and Chocolate Covered Strawberry, which were shipped ready-made directly from Park Avenue Coffee. The verdict? Any flavor of Gooey Butter Cake will melt in your mouth, knock your socks off and make you want to move to St. Louis. 

- By Ettractions Digital Content Editor PAULA MARINO

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