Giving Thanks For Gooey Butter

Monday November 18, 2013

Beyond the turkey, the Thanksgiving menu revolves around the sides, pies and local hometown favorites. In St Louis that means pushing aside the pie to make room for the city’s unofficial signature dessert, Gooey Butter Cake, especially its anticipated seasonal rendition – Pumpkin Gooey Butter.

Over the last few years Gooey Butter Cakes, whose history links it to a Great Depression St Louis German baker who mixed up his ingredients that created a thick gooey topping, has emerged as a hot topic on the Food Network. Iron Chef and Food Feuds Michael Symon discovered the delicacy, which in turned sparked a national debate on St Louis Gooey Butter Cake. During a recent Restaurant Impossible segment Chef Robert Irvine quizzed viewers if they knew St Louis’ signature dessert. Meanwhile, Paula Dean and her sons have created versions of Gooey Butter recipes from pumpkin to chocolate to a Gooey (with less) Butter Cake. Gasp.

Thanksgiving is no time to spare the butter, especially in Gooey Butters.  And while thousands of seasonal Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cakes will be gobbled up this holiday season its best to stop and think about what style of gooey butter you prefer – the original gooey recipe or the deep butter.

“We have the original and have been making gooey butter based on the same gooey butter recipe my grandfather Bill Federhofer had used since1966. It’s the truest to the original 1930’s recipe ” said Tyler May, a 3rd generation Federhofer baker.  “ The original gooey butter recipe doesn’t call for cream cheese. We also make a deep gooey butter cake, which has a sponge like cake and is sprinkled with powdered sugar.”

Each November the vanilla flavored gooey component is replaced with pumpkin and spices to create Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake. Between November and December Federhofer will bake hundreds of seasonal gooey cakes each week.

Beyond traditional bake houses as Federhofer’s, specialty shop as Park Avenue Coffee and Gooey Louie have obtained gooey butter fame.  Each squared off on Food Network’s Food Feud back in 2010. The winner that day was Park Avenue’s Pumpkin Gooey Butter.
But the controversy goes on.

Decide for yourself. Order up a square of gooey goodness or take home an entire cake. Here’s a short list of six sinfully good locations to find pumpkin or the original St Louis Gooey Butter Cake.

Companion Bakery: Cakes available whole at their south side bakehouse, select retail grocery and food shops, and at their Cafe locations. The gooey difference: Companion’s “chewy butters” are made using brown sugar.

Gooey Louie: Whole cakes to bite size special orders are available in over a dozen flavors, including Pumpkin Spice. The gooey difference: Gooey Louie’s concentrates exclusively on making gooey butter cakes.

Federhofer’s Bakery: One of St. Louis’ oldest German-style bakeries, which bakes using the handed down, vintage recipe dating back to the original 1930s gooey classic. The gooey difference: Customers have a gooey style choice, the original gooey or the deep butter gooey butter cake.

Great Food Exposition Buffet @ River City Casino & Hotel: Those wanting to eat their gooey butter and fill their plates with St Louis’ legendary food specialties check out River City’s buffet, where foods are based on those made famous at the St Louis 1904 World’s Fair and beyond. The gooey difference: Beyond pumpkin gooey butter look for the hottest seasonal flavor to date – Gingerbread Gooey Butter,

Park Avenue Coffee: Park Avenue Coffee won the coveted Food Network Food Feud for its Pumpkin Gooey Butter and is baked by its sister operation Ann & Allen Bakery. The gooey difference: Besides fresh baked cakes Park Avenue sells Ann & Allen Gooey Butter box mixes for home bakers to try at home.

Russell’s Bakery Cafe: A designer bakery and cafe where Chef Russell Ping has redefined Gooey Butter Cake. The gooey difference: Russell’s gooey butter is built on a shortbread crust.

Guest Blogger Suzanne Corbett a freelance writer from St. Louis, Missouri contributed this blog.

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