Gooey Lemon Butter Cake

Lori & Paul, Burp!

We tasted our first St. Louis style butter cake at the Flying Monkey Patisserie in the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia. The crisp sugary top, rich cream cheese and butter filling, and chewy cakey bottom won us over, and we knew we needed to recreate it at home.

Keys to a great butter cake include room temperature ingredients, an electric mixer, and the delicious richness that only real butter can provide. Although there are many varieties of butter cake, including vanilla and chocolate, we took advantage of seasonal lemons to cut the sweetness of this otherwise sinful and addictive dessert.

Gooey Lemon Butter Cake
By Lori & Paul
Makes 10-12 servings


Bottom layer:
2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons whole milk

Top layer:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 large eggs, at room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

For the crust, sift together the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and kosher salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg, melted butter and milk. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 2 minutes. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. The batter should come together into a loose ball.

With the spatula or your fingertips, pat the batter evenly into the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 pan. Set the pan aside.

Using the same mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the eggs, and beat until smooth. Pour in vanilla extract, lemon zest and lemon juice, stirring to combine. Add powdered sugar and beat well. Finally, slowly add the butter, mixing well to combine.

Pour the batter on top of the bottom layer and spread it evenly. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or just until set. Do not over-bake. The outer edges of the cake should be browned, but the center still juggles when you shake the pan.

Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool before cutting into squares.

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15 thoughts on “Gooey Lemon Butter Cake

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  1. Ashley said:

    This looks fantastic! Can’t wait to make this for Bible study!!

  2. Claudia Jones said:

    I love anything with lemon or creamchees in it and here I have both. WOW! This looks amazing. Can’t wait to make it. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Pat said:

    this looks great. Have to make it tommorrow

  4. Robbie said:

    I LOVE Gooey Butter Cake. . . . I have an excellent ‘easy’ recipe that begins with a lemon cake mix. . . . YUMMY!!

  5. Sara B said:

    I just tried this today–wow! Gooey lemon butter cake is the perfect description, so gooey and lemony delicious! Easy recipe and wonderful results.

  6. Betty A. said:

    It looks so good and I can’t wait to make it ,I love anything with lemons .

  7. Marilyn Russell said:

    I made the Gooey Lemon butter cake for a pot luck supper we went. Oh my goodness are they every good and easy to make. Will definetly make then again. They are sure yummy!!!!

    • realbutter said:

      Marilyn – So glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  8. e.d. webb said:

    do you have the recipes for vanilla & chocolate butter cakes posted? would love to have those too.

  9. Sue Chapman said:

    OMGoodness — I HAVE to make this tomorrow, but the only problem is that I’ll probably eat the whole panful by myself if I don’t share most of it with my neighbors!

  10. Maggie said:

    This is by far the most delicious lemony slice of heaven I have ever eaten and my co-workers say the same. I’m going to try the gooey chocolate butter pie next but not sure it can even come close to this.

  11. Carol said:

    I can’t wait to make it when I have the girls here for coffee. I love lemon anything!

  12. Mary said:

    Is this supposed to be refrigerated or covered on the counter when you have leftovers? Love this recipe, by the way!