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Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Great Gooey Butter Cake Challenge

Several weeks ago, my wife & I watched a show on Food Network that featured two local St. Louis cake shoppes battling for supremacy as maker of the best gooey butter cake(GBC). While taking some time off with the family, we decided to head off to each store, grab some cakes & do our own judging.  As an additional feature, we would also be comparing their cakes against my wife, who makes an excellent GBC.

We purchased full-sized cakes from each store featuring chocolate chips & a single sized red velvet offering also. We did not explore some of the more exotic flavors such as maple bacon. In the TV showdown, Gooey Louie used a maple bacon against Park Avenue Coffee's Pumpkin, which I thought may have swayed that competition to Park Ave. I wanted to use similar products for comparison to eliminate any preference for a particular flavor.

Each store definitely was different in their approach. Park Ave Coffee was thinner, less gooey with a firmer crust. Gooey Louie had a much gooier filling & a much lighter cake with that natural sunken middle normally found as the goo blends with the cake. In my opinion, GL had a more traditional St Louis style GBC, but the full-sized cake seemed undercooked in a way that the smaller single size didn't. Park Ave seemed to be a more original approach, but left me wanting more goo. In fact, the red velvet from PAC, while a fine cake, almost seemed wrong to classify as a proper GBC.

I must say that while both were great cakes, they seemed to be lacking a bit compared to my wife, Dawn's. She makes her's gooey to a fault, with the cake bottom just right (FTR, Dawn uses a cake mix for the cake bottom). Often in our house, homemade will be better than a store, so there is no surprise there.

Because I have a feeling that the cake from GL may have been an aberration, I will definitely buy again to see if it is normally cooked a bit more. The single was delicious, even reminding me of Momofuku's Crack Pie, which has been a big hit in New York City.

While Park Ave Coffee may have won the TV contest, our choice is Gooey Louie.  The non-local judge probably didn't know that in St. Louie, the gooey is what it's all about.   But we won't often have reason to buy as long as the beautiful Dawn enjoys baking at home.

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