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Gooey cakes: The pleasure's in the pudding

Thursday, March 28, 2002

By Arlene Burnett, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Kitchen Mailbox was intrigued by the request for a cake recipe described as a "dough bottom with a gooey butter topping." Any recipe described as "gooey" gets our attention. We weren't disappointed.


Readers say this cake goes by a least two names -- Gooey Butter Cake and Philadelphia German Butter Cake. The cake is best described as a very rich pudding cake. There is a long version (probably the original) and a short -- we tested both.

Philadelphia German Butter Cake is made with a yeast dough. After the dough rises, it's placed in a greased pan -- the topping (the gooey part made of butter and sugar) is spread over the dough. When the cake is removed from the oven, you'll find the cake has baked around a rich filling.

Gooey Butter Cake is made with a packaged cake mix. The recipe calls for a yellow batter cake, but we decided to go with chocolate. When we make the cake again, we'll use the yellow batter and add 1 cup drained canned fruit (maybe pineapple) to the gooey filling. We ran into a small problem with the cake batter.

The directions called for mixing the cake mix, 2 eggs (we used two large eggs) and one stick of butter; this was almost impossible because there wasn't enough liquid to form a batter. Our solution was to add another egg and that did the trick. Maybe the directions should call for 2 extra large eggs. The cake's gooey filling called for cream cheese, powdered sugar and eggs. The result was a beautiful, luscious cream cheese filling surrounded by a rich chocolate cake.

We thank our readers for turning us on to a fun new dessert.

Our last recipe was also sent as a response to the gooey butter cake request. But we decided Frosty Ricotta Cheese Pie needed its own space in today's Mailbox. This no-bake pie has all the ingredients everyone loves -- ice cream, whipped topping, ricotta cheese, orange juice and a surprise ingredient -- jam. It's a refreshing pie with a touch of citrus that reminds us of a Creamsicle.

Jim Huryan of North Lauderdale, Fla., was searching for a shortbread cake with a gooey butter topping. Philadelphia German Butter Cake was sent in by Dorothy Hasek of Franklin Park, and Gooey Butter Cake was sent in by Claudia K. Viehland of Highland Park.

Philadelphia German Butter Cake

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup solid shortening, butter-flavored
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 envelope active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm milk (105 to 115 degrees)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon vanilla
Butter Cake Topping (recipe follows)

Mix sugar with shortening and salt; add egg and beat with mixer about 1 minute until well-blended. Dissolve yeast in warm milk. Add flour, then milk/yeast mixture and vanilla to dough batter. Mix 3 minutes with dough hook or by hand. Turn dough onto floured board and knead for 1 minute. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a towel, and set aside in a warm place to rise for one hour or until doubled. Meanwhile, prepare topping and set aside.

Divide dough in two, roll or pat to fit two well-greased 8-inch square pans. Or fit all the dough in one 9-by-13-by-2-inch greased pan. Crimp edges halfway up sides of pan to hold topping in.

When dough is spread, prick lightly with a fork to prevent bubbling. Spread topping over dough. Let cakes or cake stand 20 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until done. Do not overbake. Topping should be crusty but gooey. Let cool before cutting.

Note: Our cake was ready in about 25 minutes.

Butter Cake Topping

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2/3 cup flour
2 cups extra-fine sugar
2 extra large eggs
4 to 5 tablespoons milk

Cream butter. Stir together flour and sugar. Gradually beat sugar mixture into butter. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. By the teaspoon, add just enough milk to bring mixture to a consistency for easy spreading over the cake, being careful not to make it too runny. Use as directed in recipe for Butter Cake.

Note: We used all 5 tablespoons of milk.

Gooey Butter Cake

1 box yellow cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 pound confectioners' sugar (save a tablespoon for sprinkling over cake)

Mix cake mix, 2 eggs and butter together with a spoon; pour into a greased 9-by-9-by-2-inch pan.

Mix cream cheese, 2 eggs and confectioners' sugar and pour over the first mixture. Bake 30 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Do not overbake -- the top mixture should remain "gooey."

When cake is cool, sprinkle top with reserved confectioners' sugar.

This refreshing pie recipe was sent in by Kathy Jacoby of Murrysville.

Frosty Ricotta Cheese Pie

1 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
1 pint vanilla ice cream
1 cup ricotta cheese
3 cups whipped topping
Orange food coloring, a few drops
2/3 cup raspberry jam
2 9-inch baked pie shells

In a bowl, beat concentrate about 45 seconds. Spoon in ice cream, whipped topping, ricotta cheese and coloring. Place bowl in freezer until mixture mounds.

Carefully spoon 1/3 cup jam on bottom of each pie shell, then spoon cheese mixture over jam. Cover loosely with several layers of plastic wrap.

Place in freezer for no less than 6 hours, preferably overnight.


Arthur Warstler from San Diego writes: "I need a good recipe for steaming clams and mussels -- the kind of broth that ends up in the bowl for dipping our wonderful sourdough bread in here in California. You know, butter, wine, garlic and whatever else makes it wonderful. Thanks for your help."

Mary Ann Hirt of Ross is looking for a recipe from Mandel's Bakery in Avalon. Mary Ann writes, "I just loved their spice gems -- dark, spicy, moist cupcakes with raisins and a dollop of caramel frosting on top. They were always a special treat for me and I've been craving them ever since the bakery closed. I have many recipes, but none compare. I would greatly appreciate it if someone out there had the recipe, or one similar."

Howard and Mary Campbell of Fort Myers, Fla., are in search of an old-fashioned recipe for butterscotch pie or pudding made with coffee: "Our aunt made [pie and pudding] with coffee when I was a kid 60 years ago."

Barbara Kilgariff of Scott writes: "When I was in St. Mary's School back in the '40s and learning to cook at Arsenal, we were given the recipe for Pink Velvet Company Pie. I wonder whether any readers of my vintage might have the recipe. My sister still remembers how much she liked that pie. I'd like to make it for her."


Last week's Kitchen Mailbox featured a recipe for Apricot Swirl Scones, but the directions were not complete.

Here is the corrected portion: "While the filling cooks, mix flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat sugar and butter until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Beat in vanilla." Proceed with recipe.

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail to aburnett@post-gazette.com Please include a name, neighborhood-/city/borough/township and state and a daytime phone number on all correspondence.

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