- Paula Deen’s Gooey Butter Cake recipe only uses one bowl and has simple ingredients.
- The cake is more like a bar and uses ingredients like cream cheese, cake mix, and sugar.
- The recipe is very forgiving, easy to make, and absolutely delicious.
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I’m always on the hunt for a new recipe, and my latest find may just be my best yet.
Recently, I came across Paula Deen’s YouTube channel and decided to make her Gooey Butter Cake, which requires one bowl and just a few steps.
Read on to see how it turned out.
Despite its name, this recipe is more of a dessert bar than a cake
One of her most popular recipes in 2020, Deen’s creation is inspired by a traditional dish with roots in St. Louis, Missouri.
According to What’s Cooking America, the original Gooey Butter Cake was developed in the 1930s and “was made with a yeast-raised sweet dough on the bottom.” This dish is not what you think of in terms of a classic three-layer cake – it’s more like a dessert bar.
Unlike most traditional versions of the dish, Deen’s recipe uses boxed cake mix instead of a more complex yeast-leavened dough.
I already had all of the ingredients in my kitchen
Conveniently, I already had every ingredient: cake mix, powdered sugar (aka icing sugar), full-fat cream cheese, vanilla extract, eggs, and unsalted butter.
Deen’s recipe says you only need to grease the 13-by-9-inch pan, but during my test run some of my bars ended up sticking to the bottom.
This time, I heavily greased my pan and lined it with aluminum foil so this wouldn’t be an issue later.
Next I got started on the base of the cake. I used my hand mixer to combine egg, melted butter, and a box of cake mix – I chose one with sprinkles for an added crunch.
Although it isn’t in the recipe, I added a pinch of salt to balance out all of the sweetness.
The flour mixture quickly transformed into a putty-like and pliable dough.
I placed ball-sized chunks of dough onto the base of my pan and pressed them firmly to cover the bottom.
At this point, it was already smelling like a butter-laced bakeshop in my home.
The topping was also easy to make, and I didn’t need a separate bowl
Using the same bowl, I got started on my topping. At this point, I also reused the liquid measuring cup that was used to melt the butter for my sugar.
This is typically a no-no in the baking world since liquid measuring cups are slightly different in volume from dry measuring cups, but I saw Deen do it in the video, so I followed her lead.
Accuracy aside, this was great because it gave me fewer dishes to clean.
I used my hand mixer and whizzed the room-temperature cream cheese first. Once it was creamy and fluffy, I added the eggs, vanilla, sugar, and melted butter.
Initially, it looked curdled but after about about three minutes it transformed into a soft and silky mixture.
I poured this glossy topping onto the base and smoothed everything out with a spatula
The topping was really easy to spread and I was excited to get this in the oven.
Deen’s instructions said to bake this at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 to 50 minutes, but I started with 35 because my oven tends to run hot.
At this point, the aroma of sweet caramelized sugar and rich butter was permeating my home.
I might’ve overcooked my cake a bit, but it still looked great
When I pulled the pan out of the oven, I realized that I probably should’ve baked it for even less time, maybe 30 minutes.
In Deen’s notes, she cautioned against overbaking this dish, citing that “the center should still be a little gooey.” My cake was set and slightly browned on top with no jiggle.
Fortunately, in the end, cooking the Gooey Butter Cake for slightly longer than I wanted didn’t compromise the overall texture or taste.
I wasn’t sure if my dish was ready to serve since Deen’s notes don’t include how long the cake should cool for.
Since Deen was holding a cut bar in her hands in her video, I assumed that she was not eating it while it was piping hot.
So I waited about 2 hours for the cake to cool to room temperature and then sliced it into fat squares.
I couldn’t believe how delicious this cake was
It’s pretty incredible that boxed cake mix could transform into something so buttery, gooey, and luscious.
And despite the recipe calling for quite a large amount of sweetener, this didn’t taste like a sugar bomb.
Meanwhile, the bottom transformed into a beautiful golden-brown crust dotted with rainbow bits.
This firm base was the perfect counterpoint to the gooey, creamy topping. The dessert’s texture and taste straddled the realms of a crème brûlée and soft cheesecake.
Even my husband who loathes cream cheese on its own thought this tasted spectacular because the assertive tang had been mellowed out to a delicate vanilla-custard sweetness.
I usually follow more labor-intensive dessert recipes because I assume they’d offer a bigger and tastier payoff – but that wasn’t the case with this dish.
This simple cake was super easy to make and a total crowd-pleaser. In fact, I dropped these off (while social distancing) to friends and family and they’re still raving about the bars to this day.
I would definitely make this again in the future.
I also want to note that this recipe is super forgiving
The first time I experimented with the recipe, I used gluten-free cake mix, margarine, and low-fat cream cheese and it still turned out well.
In the video, Deen also shared multiple variations of this recipe and spoke about modifications she’s made to it, like adding extra eggs or pumpkin puree.
I’m also excited to experiment with this recipe by using some my favorite mix-ins, like crushed toffee bits, chocolate chips, toasted pecans, and flaky sea salt.