Gooey Butter Cake with Cream Cheese Filling

This completely from-scratch, cream cheese filled gooey butter cake is lightly crispy on the edges and deliciously chewy as you get further in.
This gooey butter cake is completely from scratch, with a cream cheese filling. It's lightly crispy on the edges and deliciously chewy as you get further in.

My journey to gooey butter cake began on a plane ride to Mexico.

I was leafing through the complimentary Delta travel magazine when an article caught my eye. It was about St. Louis. Apparently, St. Louis is famous for gooey butter cake, a confection that comes in many flavours but always has a buttery, crisp-on-the-edges crust to identify it by.

The article recommended one cafe in particular where you could buy the best gooey butter cake in all the land. I wrote down the name: Park Avenue Coffee, and vowed to visit.

As fate would have it, we journeyed to St. Louis later that summer to see a friend. And on the way out, we stopped at that little cafe.

I sipped a cappuccino and Eric and I selected two pieces to split between us.

They were so good.

After I got home, I couldn’t rest until I’d created my own version of the treat. I’m proud of this one.

The dense, buttery cake base is lightly crispy on the edges and deliciously chewy as you get further in. It holds a gooey cream cheese filling and is finished off with a light snow of powdered sugar.

Gooey Butter Cake Dough

It’s satisfying to serve with tea, but for the most luscious experience serve with coffee and a good book or magazine that you’ve been saving for a special time.

Now, let me warn you–some of you are going to scroll down to this recipe and gasp. You will see two ingredients that will shock you: sugar, and powdered sugar. (The butter’s not a problem, right? We all know by now that animal fats are good for you, oui?) But why would a blogger who wrote a real food cookbook use sugar in a recipe?!

I’ve previously written in more detail about why white sugar stays in my pantry, but the bottom line is this: The recipe has to be worth it. I enjoy using honey and rapadura in recipes that they go well in, like this Orange Julius or these Salted Dark Caramel Sticky Buns. But for some recipes, the taste is too altered by using these strong-flavoured sweeteners.

So white sugar it is.

It’s about moderation. And never becoming legalistic about food. And enjoying one of the best desserts I’ve ever put in my mouth.

I hope you enjoy it, too!

Gooey Butter Cake with Cream Cheese Filling


For the cake:

  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup butter melted

For the filling:

  • 8 oz cream cheese softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 325. Generously butter a 9x13 baking dish. (For thicker bars, you can use an 11x7 or a 9x9 inch pan.)
  2. Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in melted butter.
  3. Press the cake mix into the bottom of the baking dish.
  4. Beat the eggs into the cream cheese, one at a time, until smooth. Beat in vanilla and powdered sugar.
  5. Spread filling over cake mix. Bake 40-50 minutes, until the edges are brown and lightly crisped.
  6. Remove from oven and dust with powdered sugar before serving.

[question]Would you ever use white sugar in a recipe?[/question]


  1. Hello Elsie…This is Jaimie’s Mom 🙂
    I LOVE what you said … about a recipe being “worth” the sugar, about moderation, about not being legalistic, and ESPECIALLY about enjoying this treat. How important that we receive with joy and grace the GIFTS our Good God gives! Celebrating His gifts with you today.

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