Gooey Butter Cake

Want to make a house feel like home? Bake this cozy butter cake on the afternoon of your second day, when you are surrounded by boxes. Surrounded by cardboard boxes stuffed with newspaper and odd objects stacking up precariously to your ears while a determined toddler marches past carrying framed photos, clothespins, the dog’s bowl, a Cleopatra head, tongs, a flyswatter, the checkbook, dominoes, a bag of flour, and finally, her pants. It is chaos in here. The complicated, happy chaos of life in motion. We’re settled into a little house on a hill with space to cook and write and work in the warm sunlight. This family life is good in our little town in Maine. Okay, so, this cake is crazy sweet. And rich. So. Much. Butter. Simple and decadent, with three lovely, distinct layers of texture: crackling, gooey, and rich.

Gooey Butter Cake
Adapted from a recipe in The New York Times


For the cake:

  • 3 tablespoons room temperature whole milk
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted, softened butter
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

For the filling:

  • 3 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted, softened butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup, plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour


For the cake:

In a small bowl combine milk and 2 tablespoons warm water. Whisk in the yeast – mixture will foam slightly. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar using the paddle attachment. Beat in the egg. Add the flour, alternating with the yeast/milk, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula. Continue to beat on medium speed, 7-10 minutes, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Press the dough into an ungreased, 9 x 13 inch ceramic baking dish. Cover with a clean dish cloth and let the dough rise in a warm spot, 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 350. In a small bowl, whisk together corn syrup, 2 tablespoons warm water and vanilla extract. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar using paddle attachment, 5 minutes. Beat in the egg. Add the flour, alternating with the corn syrup/vanilla, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula. Spread the filling evenly over the dough. Bake 40-45 minutes, until golden brown. All cake to cool in the pan before cutting into large squares and dusting with confectioner’s sugar to serve.

Gooey Butter Cake

Jillian Bedell

Jillian Bedell is a writer and mother living in a farmhouse in Cushing, Maine. She is very good at talking about herself in the third person. She is co-author of Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road.


  1. Violet sounds like the best helper ever! 🙂 This cake sounds like the perfect way to break in your new kitchen in your house on the hill!

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