Bob Ross may be known for the phrase “happy accidents,” but there is perhaps no better accident than when a St. Louis baker biffed the butter proportions in a cake recipe, resulting in our fair city’s most iconic dessert (at least of the non-frozen variety). In the near century since that fateful error, gooey butter cake has become synonymous with St. Louis, serving as much as a source of civic pride as it is a way to keep your dentist in business. You can find a version of the dish in every respectable bakery, grocery store and home kitchen in town, but these five spots are consistently turning out the area’s best versions.
Russell’s on Macklind
“Restrained” might not be the first word that comes to mind when describing gooey butter cake, but that’s what makes the version at Russell’s on Macklind (5400 Murdoch Avenue, 314-553-9994) so special. With a slightly crisp shortbread-style crust and thinner layer of goo than most, this is the one you can eat in its entirety without feeling like your teeth are going to fall out.
Park Avenue Coffee
What started as a quaint Lafayette Square coffee shop has morphed into a gooey butter powerhouse. Park Avenue Coffee’s (multiple locations including 1919 Park Avenue, 621-4020) Mom’s Traditional is the gold standard of the form, perfectly blending cakey softness and buttery goo in equal parts.
Though you can find gooey butter cake in just about any bakery in town, Gooey Louie (11266 Olive Boulevard, Creve Coeur; 314-473-1800) is the only place that has been bold enough to make the confection its only offering. This dedication to the form means the bake shop can offer just about any variety under the sun, though its original is hard to beat.
Before opening Yolklore (8958 Watson Road, Crestwood; 314-270-8538), Mary Boehne cut her teeth as the pastry chef for the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis. It’s no wonder, then, that alongside her wonderful breakfast and lunch fare are some of the area’s most incredible pastries, including her outstanding version of the St. Louis classic.
Missouri Baking Company
True to the coffee-cake nature of the form, Missouri Baking Company’s (2027 Edwards Street, 314-773-6566) traditional rendition of the St. Louis classic takes on a decidedly Italian flair thanks to the bakery’s addition of almond paste. It’s a subtle tweak that results in a transcendent taste.
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