Gooey St. Louis Butter Cake for Lovers Everywhere

I'm reading The Architect's Apprentice, by Elif Shafak, a truly Byzantine epic, and romantic tale involving, among other things, the doomed love of an elephant-tamer/architect's apprentice and the Sultan's daughter.  Hence the heart-shaped pan above, with my Valentine's dessert, a Gooey St. Louis Butter Cake.

The book is quite an adventure, full of historical interest, and lots of local color, as it's partly set  in the royal menagerie of the sultan's palace in Istanbul of the 14th Century.  However, books are something like desserts.  Sometimes you just have a taste, and stop, occasionally you get maybe halfway through and put it aside.  This was one of those, more than halfway finished, and I am unapologetic about this, it was too much or not enough, either way,  I think I prefer a more continuous flow going somewhere in a life.  Not the whole life, with countless occurrences.

 First time making this particular cake, though it  has been on my bucket "to cook" list for awhile.  Apparently it is a tradition in Missouri.  I added some dried cranberries on top for a bit of red, as well as balance against all the sweetness.  Nice for breakfast the next day too.  Especially with blueberries added on.  I do love my fruit, and we are between tropical fruit seasons at the moment, in our gardens at least.  Aside from lemons.

I cut the recipe in half to suit the pan, and the two of us, and also because I only had one egg available, which worked perfectly for this, just beaten and divided in half.  The full recipe is given below.

St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake
Adapted, by Deb of Smitten Kitchen, just barely, from Melissa Clark at the New York Times, who adapted it from Molly Killeen at the Park Slope Farmers’ Market
Yields 16 to 20 servings

For the cake
3 tablespoons milk at room temperature
1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

For the topping
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling.

Make the cake dough: In a small bowl, mix milk with 2 tablespoons warm water. Add yeast and whisk gently until it dissolves. Mixture should foam slightly. (Very slightly in my case.)

Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and salt. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat in the egg. Alternately add flour and the milk mixture, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition. Clark doesn’t say to do this, but I switched to a dough hook at this point to beat dough on medium speed until it formed a smooth mass and pulled away (just a little, my dough was still very soft) from sides of bowl, 7 to 10 minutes.

Press, stretch and nudge dough into a greased 9-by 13-inch baking dish  at least 2 inches deep. Cover dish with plastic wrap or clean tea towel, put in a warm place, and allow to rise until doubled, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Make the gooey topping: Heat oven to 350 degrees. To prepare topping, in a small bowl, whisk corn syrup with 2 tablespoons water and the vanilla. Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream

butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat in the egg. Alternately add flour and corn syrup mixture, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition.

Spoon topping in large dollops over risen cake and use an offset spatula to gently spread it in an even layer. Bake until just golden around the edges, about 20 minutes - cake will rise and fall in waves and have a golden brown top, but will still be liquid in center when done.  Note: if you use a metal pan, rather than glass or ceramic, it may cook faster.  Allow to cool in pan before sprinkling with confectioners’ sugar for serving.

This post will be linked over at Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking event.  Be sure to drop by.


Tina said...

I have looked at Smitten Kitchen and drooled over her recipes. I'm glad you posted this one. It looks mouthwatering and I would love some. When I make cake I always have to give half to the kids or we'd eat the entire thing!

Mae Travels said...

I also loved that book. Blogged it recently... http://maefood.blogspot.com/2017/01/aromas-and-tastes-in-shafaks-istanbul.html

I'm from St.Louis but never heard of that cake. I bet it's great!

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Deb in Hawaii said...

The cake looks delicious--gooey and butter are two of my favorite words! ;-)
Bummer you aren't more into the book but I totally get it--sometimes you just are feeling it and need to move on to different and better things.

Beth F said...

I've been on the fence about starting that book, so maybe I'll just sit here for a while longer. I had to laugh at the long line of adaptations on that cake! Still it looks really good and I'm happy to learn that it works cut in half because, like you, there are only two of us. Either I need small recipes or I end up cutting the baked goods into thirds and freezing two of them.

(Diane) bookchickdi said...

I love the heart-shaped pan, and that cake sounds too good.

Dragonfly Our Familiarium said...

I'm getting more and more into historical fiction lately. Coincidentally the last book I read was "And I Darken" which is about a Sultan. :) This cake is just perfect to make with my daughter she is a big blueberries fan :)