St. Louis Butter Cake

My mom and sister made this St. Louis Butter Cake a month ago for Father’s Day and brought it over to my house for us all to try.   I would consider this recipe (from The New York Times)  the “fancy pants” version of Paula Deen’s Ooey Gooey Butter Cake, (also known as the Neiman Marcus Cake/Bars) that you may be familiar with.
Both cakes are delicious, but let’s do a comparison of the two: The St. Louis version has a yeast-bread-like base and a crusty topping, whereas Paula Deen’s/Neiman Marcus Cake uses a cake mix and cream cheese, and is extremely gooey.  I call the St. Louis Cake the “fancy pants” version because it involves more work…no opening a cake box and dumping all your ingredients together like the former.  Instead, the St. Louis version requires you to be more precise in your measurements, and you must wait for your crust to rise due to the yeast.  
These recipes are similar in nature, yet have very different tastes and textures.  The crust in the St. Louis Cake has the texture you would expect in bread, due to the yeast, whereas the crust in Paula’s/Neiman Marcus Cake has a cakey/short-bread texture.  The toppings are very different too.  In the St. Louis version, the top is spongy, sticky, sweet, and buttery.  I would describe Paula Deen’s/NM Cake as ooey, gooey, rich, and buttery (just as the name suggests).  It all depends on what you like. My mom was a fan of the St. Louis Cake because she does not like cake mixes, nor is she a fan of the messy, gooey topping. I love gooey toppings, so I vote on Paula Deen’s/ the Neiman Marcus Cake.   (I’ll actually vote on Neiman’s version over Paula’s because as you all know, I am biased…I grew up shopping at Neiman Marcus and love that store! haha.)
What’s your vote? Make the two cakes today and let me know.  Enjoy!
 
Whisk together milk, water and yeast in a small bowl.  In an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar, and salt. Beat in egg. Add flour and milk mixture. Beat dough for 7 to 10 minutes, then press into ungreased 9 x 13-inch baking pan. 

Cover and let rise 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

In a small bowl, mix corn syrup, water and vanilla.  In an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar and salt for 5 to 7 minutes. Beat in egg. Add flour and corn syrup mixture.  Spoon topping in large dollops over risen cake.

Spread topping to create an even layer.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.  

The cake will rise and fall in waves and have a golden brown top, but still be liquid in the center when done.

Cool in pan before sprinkling with confectioners’ sugar.

St. Louis Butter Cake
Ingredients
CAKE:

3 tablespoons milk at room temperature
1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
TOPPING:
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling.
Directions
1. In a small bowl, mix milk with 2 tablespoons warm water. Add yeast and whisk gently until it dissolves. Mixture should foam slightly.
2. Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and salt. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat in the egg. Alternately add flour and the milk mixture, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition. Beat dough on medium speed until it forms a smooth mass and pulls away from sides of bowl, 7 to 10 minutes.
3. Press dough into an ungreased 9-by 13-inch baking dish at least 2 inches deep. Cover dish with plastic wrap or clean tea towel, put in a warm place, and allow to rise until doubled, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
4.Heat oven to 350 degrees. To prepare topping, in a small bowl, mix corn syrup with 2 tablespoons water and the vanilla. Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat in the egg. Alternately add flour and corn syrup mixture, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition.
5. Spoon topping in large dollops over risen cake and use a spatula to gently spread it in an even layer. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes; cake will rise and fall in waves and have a golden brown top, but will still be liquid in center when done. Allow to cool in pan before sprinkling with confectioners’ sugar for serving.

Yield: 16 to 20 servings.
The New York Times Published October 30, 2009

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