Vegan Gooey Butter Cake (A St. Louis Tradition Adaptation!)

Vegan Thyme: Vegan Gooey Butter Cake (A St. Louis Tradition Adaptation!)
Let me introduce you to the most amazing thing to come out of St. Louis since The Arch: the Gooey Butter Cake. But this one here is vegan and not "as gooey" as they tend to be, but qualifies for me as one of the best cake recipe homages to the GBC I've tasted in a really long time!

You can almost taste the crispy cooked, golden chewy edges and then, the crumb sort of collapses in your mouth like you're eating a super-sized piece of butter cake heaven--soft and moist in the middle with a large crumb!

My favorite day of the week is Wednesday. This is when the Let's Eat section of our St. Louis Post-Dispatch (the second most left-leaning piece of journalism diatribe out there--next to the New York Times--a little balanced reporting once in awhile would be nice)--but nonetheless, the food section, on most weeks, prints something I feel worthy of "trying". My three-ring binder is filled with little scraps of black and white newsprint cut-out recipes dangling from my folder pockets. I am like one of those old women who will someday be able to submit "the long lost recipe" for Aunt Mable's pecan shortbread printed in the nineties by someone in the "food section" of the Post. I'll have that recipe cut out somewhere and will oblige by sending it in. My dream job is being the Food Editor of this paper someday (not likely to happen given my intro to this blog post, but oh well)--I'd love to give them a shot of "veggie" sense and other worthy food review commentary that I feel is often lacking.

So yesterday's food section carried a whole front page article on Asian Grocery Store Shopping. . . Okay. But then there was this quaint little cake photo in black and white tucked in the folds with a reader question requesting a "bakery" butter cake recipe "from years gone by". The bakery still exists up in the North part of the city--I'd never heard of them. (If you weren't aware--St. Louis is known for two very famous things in the dessert/confection world: Gooey Butter Cake and World's Fair Donuts.)

Gooey butter cakes are never far out of sight in any grocery store or bakery worth its salt in this city. There are as many iterations of this cake out there as there are modular homes. You might be from out of town--might wander in a local bakery or grocer and find this powdered sugar pile of heaven and wonder: What in the world have we here? First, the center is usually all, well, gooey. Then, it is surrounded with a chewy, crunchy crust that will send your head spinning. The gooey-ness is related to it's overwhelming amount of butter, sugar and egg setting in the middle as the cake bakes up. Let me tell you--I loved them. Still love them--but needed a vegan version desperately. This cake made my dream come true! My eye immediately went to the ingredient list. Butter. . .mmmmm. Butter. I love butter. Okay, there I said it. I have always loved butter. One of the hardest darn things I've had to "turn the other cheek" from since taking up the vegan life: butter. No regrets mind you, I manage just fine on the old Earth Balance for my "fix". But this cake here, aside frome the two and a half sticks of butter, had my name written all over it!

First, here is the link for Helfer's Bakery recipe for Deep Butter Cake from yesterday's Post. I vegan-ized this with the usual suspects. Using Ener-G Egg Replacer for Egg. Then, I used unsalted vegetable margerine sticks in place of the butter, and unsweetened soy milk for the "milk" part. (I really prefer the unsweetened soy mik that Silk now carries--it comes in a green carton.) In the notes at the bottom section of the recipe it states it is very important to use "imitation butter extract" for flavor. I could not agree more! Wow! Wow! Wow! For calorie-phobes, yes, it is listed as having 500 calories per serving, but guess what? I run, therefore, I eat. Plus I am sure we shaved some of those calories down after my vegan changes. If you are also a "no extracts for me" person for whatever reason. . . I didn't name this the "deny-myself-the-good-food-for-a-vegan-life" blog for a reason. Good grub is what I'm about, and making it cruelty free. . . not inedible!

This cake was nearly half gone last night as Mr. Thyme and I took in the results show for Idol--well, after he watched his "man-show" Human Target. That is such a "dude" show it is not even funny--so I tinker in the kitchen or catch up on reading for this hour of man TV. (Uh, quick aside about Idol last night--who in the world produced last night's show? Chipmunks? Seriously: Group Song by Wham, "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go?)" I nearly laughed my self senseless and cried a bit, too--that was the most awful two minutes of my life--and I demand they return them! Okay. Where was I? The cake. Make it. You'll love it. Make sure you have some imitation butter or butter extract on hand--it is a must! Do as the directions state--bake until it begins to turn this lovely golden color on top. And be sure you have powdered sugar to sprinkle on top--YUM!


  1. Thank you so much for all the great advice you gave me with your reply on yesterdays post. I will go get a runners world magazine(I do have a women's running book that they put out). I LOL when I read the part about the Tim Conway shuffle, I TOTALLY look just like him, and I have seen every Carol Burnett show ever made at least twice.
    Now I am off to find butter extract to make that yummy looking cake. Where in the heck do you find butter extract?:)

  2. LOL at your comment--with a belly laugh! OMG, I totally loved the Carol Burnett show, too! So, with the butter extract: it's McCormick's brand, and I got it at Wal Mart. This is the Midwest, we have every single imitation flavor you can imagine, and tons of the real stuff to go with, trust me--a sad testament to our ah-hem, "healthy" lifestyles. I thought I'd throw this out--go do a search on the gooey butter cake and take a gander at the "real deal" ingredients folks will put in this--it's a heart attack waiting to happen, but seriously, one of the BEST indulgences I ever had! This bakery's cake, though not an official GBC (but I am sure they have their own version), had so much of the same qualities of the bygone GBC I remembered, we just about fell over when we ate it (and are continuing to eat today. . . and tonight!) Okay, so you have the same running book I have for women runners--good deal!

  3. Your picture alone screams gooey moist and delicious! My goodness, how fantastic for the upcoming holidays to wow some family! Thanks for sharing!

  4. I'm pretty sure my husband secretly dreams of the day I'll bake him a gooey butter cake! Now I can make those dreams come true! Looks awesome! :)

  5. wow, I've wondered about a vegan version of gooey butter and you did it!

  6. Wow this looks so delicious!! Nice job Kelly!

  7. Hi Amanda! Oh, thanks so much! Hey, I am sure it will be a hit with friends--we had it last night and it still was as moist as the first night--so yummy!

  8. For my St. Louis sisters--Lisa at Show Me Vegan and Laura: Actually, I didn't do it, I thank the Helfer bakery for sharing the recipe so I could do this vegan style! I have been craving a vegan version of Gooey Butter Cake for months now! When I saw this in the Post, I was determined to make this "vegan"--the word butter appeared in the ingredient list too many times for me not to! Please don't expect the "uber-gooey" from the "real deal" most beloved St. Louis traditional cake, but instead, expect something really close! The batter will be thick when you've blended it and all--just be sure to spread it over the crumbs on the bottom of the pan. After it bakes up over the crumb and you turn it over you have this plate of WOW! (Well, after you sprinkle it with powdered sugar!)


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