Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake {+ an annoucement}


Do you know the origin of gooey butter cake?  If you do, you know where Dessert for Two is relocating to…

Mr. Dessert for Two and I are moving to St. Louis!  We are beyond excited for this dynamic city.  After years of living in the country (in California) and living in the suburbs (in Kansas), we’re leaning towards a house in the heart of the city.  Is that a bad idea?  Please, St. Louis people, let me know.  We’re currently in love with a house in a happenin’ downtown area that was built in the late 1800s.


So, tell me:  what do you know about the city in which Gooey Butter Cake was invented?  Will we love living there?  And most importantly:  is St. Louis considered the South?  When I looked at the garden zones in Southern Living magazine, St. Louis is included in the Upper South.  Can we still brand ourselves as Southerners?  (Please say yes, y’all).

We’ve been celebrating our decision all week, and I wanted to make an especially rich dessert to pair with the champagne.  A small batch of classic St. Louis gooey butter cake fit the bill.  I stirred in pumpkin and a few spices because, well, ’tis the season.

Gooey butter cake recipes typically call for cake mix.  I don’t have a problem with cake mix per se, but I have a problem with using only half of a box of cake mix.  So, I made a quick recipe for cake mix to use in the crust.  I have not tried using it for a mini cake recipe, so I can’t recommend it for that, but I can say it’s fabulous in this pumpkin gooey butter cake recipe.  So buttery, so vanilla-y.

We’re using a standard bread loaf pan to make roughly 1/4 of a regular cake.  This will serve two nicely when cut down the middle.  Here is the exact pan I used:


Thanks for all the good wishes, and for following us around as we relocate again.  This move should be more permanent for us.  If I could bake each of you a gooey butter cake and serve it on a pretty blue plate with as much powdered sugar as you like, I would.  Y’all are the best.  Thanks for being you.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake {+ an annoucement}
Yields 2 pieces of cake.
Serves: 2
For the crust:
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 large egg yolk, egg white reserved for the filling
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the gooey part:
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 large egg white
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • ⅓ cup canned pumpkin puree
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Have ready a metal bread loaf pan that measures 9 x 5".
  2. First, make the crust: In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, salt and baking powder. Add the egg yolk, milk and melted butter. Stir until a wet dough forms, and then press this mixture evenly into the bottom of the bread loaf pan.
  3. Next, make the gooey butter filling: In the same bowl you used to make the crust, add all of the filling ingredients. Beat together on low speed until well-blended, about 1 minute. Pour the filling over the crust.
  4. Bake the gooey butter cake for 35-40 minutes. It will be browned on the edges, but slightly jiggly and sunken in the middle. Let it cool COMPLETELY. I store it overnight in the fridge for perfect cuts.
  5. Serve with extra powdered sugar dusted on top.



  1. says

    I love gooey butter cake and you did this proud! Pinned! I want it!

    I live in urban San Diego (I know, not St.Louis) but for awhile lived in a 1923 Spanish Mission revival and it was great. Right now I live ultra-modern but I can totally see you in an 1800s house. Go for it. Urban living is overall amazing and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  2. Rachel says

    I’m from St. Louis! It sounds like you might be moving to the Central West End, which is an awesome place to live. You’ll love it! I’ve never heard anyone say St. Louis the South. I’d say it’s Midwest?

  3. says

    Congrats on deciding on St. Louis! And an 1800s house in a city sounds absolutely to me! It’s like getting a perk typically reserved for a suburb (space, a house), but with the character and cultural scene of a city. Best of both worlds!

    And I’ve never made gooey butter cake, but this looks fantastic! Love that you included pumpkin in your recipe.

  4. says

    Gooey Butter Cake is such a fun treat…especially if there’s pumpkin and spices involved! Perfect for Fall. Congrats on your upcoming relocation to St. Louis, Christina! I’ve never lived there, but have moved several times due to The Big Lug’s career. We enjoy country living best nearby the “big city” and important stops like Fresh Market, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. We had the best of both worlds in Lexington, KY and, now, have it here in Indy. I love being nestled in cornfields, the quiet of the nights (save for the joyful sound of crickets) and the beautiful stars in the night sky. Wouldn’t have it any other way! But, I could totally see you two in an older charming “homestead” in the big city. Wishing you all the very best! xo

  5. Anne says

    I looooooooove St Louis!! I lived there for many years, and in my opinion it’s such an underrated city. Having also lived in New England for many years I can tell you that “yankees” absolutely consider St Louis The South (those who know where it is anyway…geography west of the Hudson River is not New Englanders strong point…).

    There are lots of fun city neighborhoods to live in – Soulard, the Central West End, the Tower Grove area… There are probably others too, but those are the ones I’m more familiar with. And there’s SO much fun and free stuff in the city! Pretty much all of the museums in Forest Park are free (zoo, science, art, history…). The City Musuem downtown, while not even close to free, so one of the neatest places I’ve ever been. And there’s so much good food in St Louis! The Italian district (The Hill) has fabulous food – you must try toasted ravioli if you haven’t already. And the Soulard Farmers Market is one of the best.

    If you couldn’t tell, I love StL and could go on and on and on about it, and I hope you fall in love with it too!

  6. says

    First off, congrats on the decision and upcoming move! I’ve never been to St. Louis but love, love, love that you chose a bustling city! I could happily live in the city my entire life and never leave. I think it will be a fantastic adventure for you guys!

    Now, about this cake. Holy cow, it looks rich and delicious. Perfect for celebrating!

  7. says

    So exciting!! I have never been to St. Louis so I am pretty excited to see pics and come along with you guys….well, at least through pics and stuff! Congrats!

    Love the gooey butter cake! It looks extra gooey! Yum!

  8. Franny says

    St Louis is my hometown and favorite place ever.

    The neighborhoods can vary block by block, so do your homework on the block you choose but there are some great ones.

    We consider ourselves more Midwestern than Southern, but we do have some southern qualities.

    There are some great attractions to visit and many of them are free, so make plans and go see them.

    There are some great food choices — Italian on the Hill, all sorts of choices everywhere, and some great BBQ, some great wineries along the Missouri River heading out west. (Augusta, Herman and many in between). Schafly (http://schlafly.com/) is a favorite local brewery.

    I could go on and on and on, but its a great city and I’m very excited for you!

  9. Julie says

    Well, you are below the Mason DIxon line, so I’d say, that yes. You are in the south. And really, the important thing is the garden zone (we are 5, which is bad–but better than 4, I guess). Well, that’s what my mother thinks, anyway. What type of azalea grows there? Yankee ones (as my grandmother called them) or regular ones? See, people think that these are easy decisions. St. Louis is a fun town. I think that you will really like it. Congratulations! Oh, and this cake looks yummy. :)

  10. says

    Good luck as you move!
    I would say St. Louis is definitely still in the South. I mean, they’ve featured St. Louis area things in Southern Living before, right? Plus Mizzou IS in the SEC now.

  11. Jessica L. says

    I already tweeted at you, but congratulations again!! I’m so so so excited for you, and even more excited that you picked my favorite city! There is so much to do in Stl, I just know you’re going to love it.

    We’ve got our eye on a couple of neighborhoods for when we move, including the Central West End, Dogtown, and Tower Grove. We’re looking to rent rather than buy, but so many of the houses in the city have amazing charm. I’d say go for it…a lot of the neighborhoods are so walkable, and living in the city will be a great new adventure!

  12. says

    Gooey butter cake is pure love baked in a pan. Seriously, love.

    Also I can’t say I’m not a LEEEEETTLE sad you won’t be joining me in AR, but some of our best friends live in St. Louis and love it there. Plus I hear the city is pretty happening, so I say go with the house you LOVE!!!

  13. says

    Congratulations on your move! I’m sure that you will pick the perfect spot to move (as long as it has a nice kitchen) so you can keep making us delicious treats :)

  14. Alissa S. says

    Wow! You made your own cake mix?! That’s awesome, and I need just that sometimes: half of a box of cake mix. Do you have this recipe for other flavors? If not, can you do me a big favor and make some, because red velvet, spice cake, and chocolate are of need in my house!!
    Love this recipe!

  15. says

    I hope you guys soon get settled in St Louis and can’t start making it feel like home.

    PS you’ll always be Southern to me no matter where you live ;)

  16. Vicki says

    This looks like it could become one of my new favorite pumpkin recipes! I can’t wait to try it. When will the big move be happening? I’m sorry we never could meet up. We will be sorry to lose you both from KS! It sounds like an exciting move for the both of you and wish you ALL the best!

  17. Desiree says

    I’m on my way home (Atlanta area) from an action packed weekend in St. Louis. I ran the marathon there this weekend. We had never been there before and we saw a lot of sites this way. Impressed with the city. Of course with the World Series in town the city was alive!! I loved it. I say it’s more Midwest with some southern charm. We are moving too. Just across town but I’m getting a much bigger kitchen. Can’t wait to try this recipe. Good luck on the move.

  18. says

    Congrats on your move! I always think it’s so exciting to move some place new. I’ve lived in or around the same area all my life. This recipe is perfect! You don’t find too many smaller dessert recipes, and for me I’d rather bake something small than have desserts sitting around for way too long.

  19. Jane S. says

    Congrats on your big move! I have lived in STL my whole life, and I don’t think you will be disappointed. We have so much to offer in the way of food, culture and friendliness! I’m sure you will find lots of inspiration as you explore your new home town. This gooey butter sounds fantastic! Can’t wait to try it… we definitely love our gooey butter in STL!

    Can’t wait to have you here…Hope you love living in our wonderful town!

  20. Brigid says

    I’m so excited about this recipe!! It’s hands down one my favorite foods! Every time I go visit family in St. Louis I have several food things I have to have – gooey butter cake, Imo’s or Elicia’s Pizza, and Ted Drewes.There are so many fun things to do in St Louis, I know you’re going to love it! Congratulations!!!

  21. says

    Congrats on your big life change, my dear! I’ve never been to St. Louis but would love to get my booty out there. What a way to celebrate with a gooey decadent cake!! This is such a clever fall recipe and super cozy to boot! I want a hefty slice with a hot mug of tea. HUGE congrats again!!

  22. says

    Congrats! I’m so happy to hear that you picked a place and are moving forward with the next stage. I’ve never been to St. Louis, but we know people who live there and really like the city. And knowing you, you’ve taken plenty of time to analyze all your options before making your decision. :)

  23. says

    Congratulations on the move! So exciting. And I had never even heard of a gooey butter cake before, none the less knew where it originated. It sounds so decadent, it would probably be dangerous to make more than a couple servings. I like that you made your own “cake mix” for the crust, too — I love doing things from scratch!

  24. says

    Born and raised in St Louis so this I know. Southern? Absolutely not. Midwestern through and through. Now travel down to the boot heel and Lake of the Ozarks. That I might consider Southern; more Arkansas than Missouri!

    Now on to gooey butter cake. My dad brought one home from the bakery every Sunday morning that I can remember on the way back from church. And this I know. It is a YEAST bread, not a cake. I think Paula Deen bastardized it along the way and tried to make it easy for the masses but you’ll never find a St. Louisian consider anything less than a sweet yeast dough covered with that amazing gooey filling as a Gooey Butter Cake. I appreciate your efforts to at least rid this amazing tradition of the notion that it was made with a damn box mix! :)

    I’m working now to get an original recipe from a local bakery; it’s high time this St. Louis native did it right. Not that yours is bad or even wrong in the larger sense but community pride forced me to tell you the truth; you would not want it any other way right? Now that you’re a member too especially!

    Forest Park, Denver Botanic Gardens, St. Louis Cardinals, the Zoo, Steak and Shake. Jealous.

  25. Brynn_ND says

    Congratulations on the move and Best Wishes for your new life in St. Louis!! I have visited there, and I loved it. A late 1800s house downtown sounds wonderful!!

  26. jeda says

    Congratulations Mr. & Mrs. Dessert for Two!!! I couldn’t be more happy for both of you! I am sure St. Louis will be blessed with both of you as their new residents – a genuinely kind, loving, and amazing couple. I went to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (it is just across the great Mississippi River) from 2009 to May 2013 and we just love St. Louis! The people are so warm and friendly, and the different neighborhoods are full of charm and character. I truly loved St. Louis area and even contemplated on raising a family there – it is where an important part of my faith journey and professional & personal growth happened. Now, as my chosen vocation has taken me to Las Vegas, I am slowly adjusting to desert living (where I am growing fond of succulents, learning different kinds of southwestern adventure, and finding the beauty of springs in the desert). St. Louis and the Midwest have a special place in my heart, and I am so happy for you and your husband’s decision of following your heart! Take care always and blessings upon you and your family :) Thank YOU, Ms. Christina, so very much for this awesome recipe – I really miss this treasure and am excited to try it! :*

  27. says

    Yay! You are going to love STL!!! I have a few really good friends that live down there so if you want any recommendations for food/drink/touristy stuff let me know! From the times I have visited I know I love Schlafly Brewery for beer and food. Mmm so good!

  28. says

    Ohhh yum, this looks AMAZING. I’m obsessed with anything pumpkin.. AND ooey gooey butter bars, so this is perfect in every way. I sort of consider St. Louis the South.. but when I was visiting some of my parents’ friends there, they were like.. proud midwesterners. However, they were from Nebraska or something, so I think it carried over :) By the way, the sheer amount of awesome vineyards in St. Louis is AMAZING! You’ll have so much fun. I’ve been trying to convince O to consider St. Louis as an option when we decide to relocate The Stylist Quo! :D


  29. says

    Congratulations! What an exciting move! I absolutely love St. Louis. Our super fun wedding photographers moved from KC to St. Louis and they have been remodeling an old fire station into their home and studio. (They have a great blog about it called “A Fire Pole in the Dining Room”.)

  30. says

    Congrats on the move! I made a gooey butter cake last week, but it was a yeasted version. This is on my list for the future! Plus, it was way too dangerous to have an entire cake in our house!

  31. says

    Congratulations, Christina! So glad the search (and waiting and wondering) is over. St. Louis (to me) is definitely Southern. They’ve got Gooey Butter Cake, blues music, BBQ — and now you! Lucky them. ;)

  32. says

    So excited for you guys and your big move!!! I’m sure you’ll own any town ;) I wish I knew more about St. Louis! My hunni is up for a possible job there next year for a few months, so if it’s a go I’ll be looking you up! And you better save me some pumpkin gooey butter cake! Please.

  33. says

    Congratulations! I honestly don’t know much about St. Louis, but we live in a super urban neighborhood in Columbus, OH and we love it! Our house is over 100 years old, and while I will tell you that leads to some interesting problems at times (plaster sucks!), the house has charm and character to spare. Plus, it’s awesome to be so close to so many restaurants and fun (free) stuff to do!

  34. Amanda H. says

    St. Louis has been my home for 11 years now, and I adore it. For me, the City (downtown) is where I work and love to visit its neighborhoods (Central West End, Soulard,Benton Park, South Grand, Tower Grove…) but I’m way too small town scaredy cat to live there. A lot of crime surrounds those areas. Just built our dream home in Kirkwood, and absolutely love this area of town to live. That being said, have plenty if friends that live in the City and love it there. As for South, um it is pretty Midwest to me.

  35. wendyb964 says

    Absolutely delightful! Not normally a gooey butter cake fan (too sweet even for me! Rather like crack pie. Don’t get me wrong: haven’t met a cheese ake nor brownie I don’t love, but perhaps tis more of a texture-deal.) I made it last night in a 12 x 4 pan which was buttered and lined with parchment from another project. Sprinkled with powdered sugar and loosely covered it rested overnight in the refrig. Perfect ratio of crust to filling when cut in 1 to 1.5″ slices: easy to pick up, not overly sweet, great with milk or coffee. I might add some toasted pecan meal to the crust and am also trying to figure out other toppings such as our Apple Hill apples. I must admit that many times I make full recipes rather than these desserts for two, but the success of this dish in particular will make a loaf pan a favorite go-to this fall. Greetings from northern California and best of luck in St. Louis.

  36. Alysha T says

    I’m moving to st Louis next week actually! I’ve only been there once and that was to find an apt. We are going to be living in a downtown loft. I’m really excited for it, STL looks like a beautiful city. I might have to read more of the comments for some suggestions too. Congrats on your move!

  37. says

    I’ve lived in St Louis and your pumpkin gooey butter cake looks perfect – you’ll definitely fit in. I’m more than happy to talk with you about St Louis anytime. Feel free to contact me anytime. I love St Louis and although my kids had always thought of moving away they’re still both living here. It’s home. Best of luck to you.

  38. Tama says

    Both our kids are at Washington University in St. Louis and we visit regularly (we live in Minneapolis). You’ll love it there – great weather and tons to do. Restaurants are outstanding and make sure you check out Forest Park and all it’s FREE attractions!

  39. says

    Ohhh I’m so glad you guys settled on a place!! Selfishly I’m sad it’s not Tri-Cities but I’m thrilled you’re happy and you will find a new place to call home and build a life together :) Congrats!! Can I drown my little case of the sads with a whole slab of this? Okay, deal!! And again – CONGRATS!!

  40. says

    Congratulations on your move! It will be exciting to live in the city with a cute home! I’m not sure I call St. Louis south though…probably more Midwest. We have been through a few times and it looks like a fun city to be in. Now these pumpkin bars…yum to the 10th power. I would love a slice on one of those pretty blue plates :-)

  41. says

    Yay! Congrats and welcome! It looks like several people have weighed in on the ‘Is St Louis Southern” question. Generally, it’s not considered Southern, but I think some Southern magazines make an exception.

    Let me know if you need any touring around or general guidance on the city.

    • says

      Thanks, Heather! Your friend Jess mentioned you live in the area! We just might be buying an older fixer-upper, too! I’ll keep you in the loop. Are you guys in the heart of the city? (feel free to email your response so you’re not broadcasting to the world where you live). :)

  42. says

    I absolutely love St. Louis. I live in Minnesota but my sister is in STL so I visit quite frequently. My favorite things:
    -World’s Fair Donuts (mom-and-pop type shop near the Botanical Gardens)
    -Forest Park (great place to hang out on the lawn … or see an outdoor play, visit the zoo, ride a bike…)
    -There’s a really good crepe place in Central West End
    -Bike ride on the Katy Trail (outside the city) and visit the wineries/brewery!
    -all the brick houses and the history of the area
    -City Museum (think jungle gym for grownups)
    -Botanical Gardens is free one weekend a month for residents, I think.
    -the Hot Air Balloon Festival in the fall

    I don’t really consider STL the south but they do have good BBQ! Best of luck!

  43. says

    Just found your blog and I’m laughing that you are moving to where I live now!
    1. St Louis is not southern. I’m from South Carolina, and I can definitively say that ;) I’d say it’s midwestern.
    2. You’ll like it eventually. There’s an adjustment period because many people you meet will have lived here their entire lives and it’s hard to break into the social scene, but once you get comfortable you’ll get to know some great people, and you’ll find other people who aren’t from here too that are desperate to make new friends!
    3. The old neighborhoods closer to downtown are wonderful (I live in the Tower Grove area, but CWE and the others you mentioned are lots of fun!), walkable, with lots of great restaurants, parks, stores, etc. I wish you the best on your move and look forward to reading more of your blog in the future!

  44. Franny says

    I answered earlier, but I forgot to mention, be prepared for the St Louis question… you will be asked… over and over again, where you went to high school. People ask because they’re looking for information on your background (are you Catholic {due to a large Catholic population and a strong Catholic school system}, what part of town you grew up in, etc) and because they’re looking for common ground, but I know that it can sometimes seem like a barrier to those who didn’t grow up in the area.

  45. Sharon Roeder says

    Love your blog! I live in St. Peters (about 30 min west of St. Louis) but my husband is from “South St. Louis” – I’d say St. Louis is “Mid-West”, and has a TON of cultural activities, great restaurants and lots to see and do! Congratulations and good luck!

  46. says

    The recipe looks wonderful!

    I stop here every once in awhile.

    Was surpised greatly by the St.L announcement as it sounds “out of character” for your previous plan of a small farm.

    I guess I am in the vast minority…I grew up in the midwest…left in ’79, had my “city” experience and have been happily rural (western rural: northwest MT) for 20 years. I hope St. L is all you’d like and wish you only the best but must be honest and say I’d hoped to see you in Texas on some land.

  47. Patty says

    I guess by now you are in St. Louis – Welcome! I’ve been here my whole life and love it. Southerners do not consider us the south and northerners do – so you can be whatever you want here! :)
    love the recipe – can’t wait to try it…..


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