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Gooey Butter Cake: The Story of St. Louis’ Favorite & Mysterious Treat

One of St. Louis’ claims to fame is our delicious gooey butter cake –and the story behind its creation is just as delicious as the treat itself.

There are actually quite a few claims to the creation of the cake. The most widely accepted origin says the cake was made by accident in the 1930s by a German American baker. Allegedly, he was trying to make regular cake batter but accidentally reversed the proportions of butter and flour.

Another story says there were two types of butter “smears” used in the bakery: a gooey butter and a deep butter. The deep butter was used for coffee cakes while the gooey butter was used for things like Danish rolls. This story alleges that the baker got the butter smears mixed up, resulting in a delicious accident. The mistake was made during the Great Depression, so supplies for ingredients were low and they had no intention to waste food. So, they sold this new cake as it was.

Both stories revolve around a baking accident in the 1930s, and most people attribute the cake appearing on the scene to that time period.

Next time you’re in St. Louis and staying at The Charles F. Knight Center, remember to try this delicious staple treat. And if you need help finding the best gooey butter cake joint in town, some of our local staff would be happy to help point you in the right direction.