If another American city can boast an original dessert as gooey, delicious, and sinfully wonderful as the St. Louis original gooey butter cake, it has yet to be found.
The original gooey butter cake was invented sometime in the 1930s. Legend has it that a German baker who was apparently attempting to create a coffee cake when he added too much butter and ended up instead with a pudding-like, gooey mess of deliciousness.
The stories vary, but by all accounts, it was definitely invented in St. Louis City by a member of the St. Louis Bakers Association - many of whom surely knew each other and collaborated on recipes. So it could be likely that no one baker truly "invented" the Gooey Butter. However, what is known is that a baker originally made the cake by adding more butter to a coffee cake, and is a St. Louis invention.
Whatever the history, like Vess soda, Red Hot Riplets, pork steaks, Imo's pizza, and toasted ravioli, the St. Louis Gooey Butter is a treat that those of us from the Lou absolutely adore and the rest of the country are puzzled over.
In St. Louis, gooey butter cake is enough of a staple that dozens of bakeries make this treat for their customers daily. What bakery has the best of the best, however, is up for much debate.
This weekend, why not try one of these three amazing St. Louis bakeries and their unique versions of gooey butter cake, and decide for yourself who truly has the best version of this iconic dessert.
Opened by chef and baker Russel Ping in 2012, the Macklind location of the iconic, locally owned Russels chain is the perfect spot to begin your gooey butter journey.
Stop by for Saturday or Sunday brunch - but be sure to arrive early as Russels is a scratch kitchen and has been known to sell out! It is not unusual for hour-long waits to occur on a Sunday at this popular restaurant.
Once you've secured your table and eaten as many giant cinnamon rolls and biscuits and gravy bowls as your heart can handle, finish the morning with a cappuccino and a slice of Russels original gooey butter cake. It's been said that the pastry chefs have to sign a nondisclosure agreement to get the recipe for this cake, so you know it's good. The secret, apparently, lies in the unique crust, which has more of a graham cracker than pastry texture.
A true family establishment, the Kruta Bakery is a Collinsville staple. No matter where you are located in the St. Louis area, this bakery is worth the drive. Started in 1919 in East St. Louis by a Russian immigrant, the Kruta family is still lovingly running four generations later and going strong in what can only be called a true success of the "American dream."
Aside from the excellent customer service - this bakery will truly treat you like family, which is likely a testament of their success - the pastries that the Kruta family makes are little slices of heaven. Strudels, stolen, danishes, kolaches, cookies, pies, and more grace the bakery case on any given day, and you can't go wrong with any of them.
By far, the best thing in the vase, though - if you're lucky enough to snag one before they're sold out - is the Gooey Butter cake. The Kruta version of the gooey butter cake should win an award for the "gooey-est" cake in St. Louis. Indeed, no one will top the absolutely delicious oozy mess that will erupt from this decadent dessert, so make sure you have a spoon on hand to eat it.
Another American Dream Success Story, the Missouri Baking Company, is in its 3rd generation of being a family-run business. The original patriarch emigrated to the USA on request from another St. Louis icon - the original owner of Garavelli’s, which closed in 2013. The Italian baker then started his own business in 1924, and the rest is history.
Now, the iconic but unassuming Missouri Baking Company serves up classic and modern Italian baked treats ranging from the more famous cannoli and tiramisu to more traditional treats like cuccidati (a pastry filled with figs, raisins, pine nuts, and chocolate chips). Of course, they also make gooey butter cake.
The gooey butter cake at Missouri Baking Company is unique in St. Louis as it has an almond taste to its rich, gooey center. Gooey butter fans can try this delicious, perfectly browned cake in either traditional cake form - or they can opt for an ever-popular gooey butter danish. Just be aware, the bakery is cash only, so bring your wallet!
So which of these iconic, family-owned bakeries will you visit this weekend? In a time when major corporations and big businesses are taking over the restaurant industry the world over, it's more important than ever to support local restaurants, eateries, and bakeries across the United States.
So this weekend, don't forget to patron one of these delicious, friendly, and locally owned bakeries and have your own gooey butter cake tasting contest.
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