What if I told you there’s a cake that tastes like buttery baked cake AND cake batter at the same time? These are dreams appropriately named Gooey Butter Cake.
I didn’t have nearly enough early exposure to the concept of a Gooey Butter Cake save for all the batches of blondie brownies I under-baked due to impatience. We were a Texas Sheet Cake family (still are thank you) despite the fact that my grandfather came to California from St Louis – land of ooey gooey butter. We rooted for the Cardinals in baseball butt kept out cake strictly southern.
Gooey Butter Cake has my favorite cake characteristics, namely – seemingly under-baked cake batter. Baked but under-baked cake batter takes on a butterscotch quality that is… well, it’s me licking the spatula and mixing bowl while the cake bakes in the oven.
For this springtime version gooey butter cake, I’m adding lemon zest, lemon juice and a quickie fresh blueberry sauce. This is giving weekend blueberry muffin vibes so please get the coffee brewing like, now.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this Lemon Blueberry Gooey Butter Cake:
• fresh blueberries and lemon juice and zest
• granulated sugar
• cream cheese at room temperature
• powdered sugar – I use traditional grocery store powdered sugar for the filling and this fancy powdered sugar that does not dissolve for the topping.
• large eggs
• unsalted butter, melted
• vanilla extract
• all-purpose flour
• baking powder
We’ll start by making a quick fresh blueberry sauce. Simmer fresh berries in a small pan with a dash of water, a bit of sugar, and cornstarch to thicken. Cook until most of the blueberries have softened and burst and the sauce is a deep purple and slightly thickened. Cornstarch thickens at the boiling point so if your sauce is simmering you’ve done your job. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
I used fresh berries (snacking on the rest of the clamshell of berries as the cake baked), but you can use frozen berries if you thaw and drain them before simmering.
Let’s talk cake batter! In a large bowl using an electric mixer (or stand mixer with a paddle attachment) beat together melted butter, granulated sugar, an egg, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract.
Add the dry ingredients all at once and whip into a smooth, thick cake batter.
I like to think of this as an easy homemade version of yellow cake mix. Now… if you were to use yellow or lemon cake mix for this recipe – double the blueberry sauce and double the cream cheese filling and either bake 2 9×9-inch cakes or 1 9×13-inch cake!
Set aside the cake batter because it’s time for the gooey portion of our cake walk.
This cream cheese mixture is the star of the show. Softened cream cheese flavored with lemon blueberry. The cream cheeses is lightly sweetened with confectioners’ sugar and thickened with an egg but doesn’t bake too firm atop the cake. Soft, creamy, ooey gooey is what we’re going for!
I like to use a springform pan for this cake. Dust off that springform pan – it’s not just for cheesecake. The easy release sides make this pan perfect for this cake. No fighting to lift or invert the cake.
Prepare the baking pan by coating it with nonstick cooking spray or nonstick baking spray.
Pour layers into the prepared baking pan starting with the cake batter. Use an offset spatula to spread into an even layer. Pour the lemon cream cheese mixture over the cake batter. Top with blueberry sauce and use a butterknife to swirl in six or so turns.
Place in the upper third of the oven to bake.
Bake until the cake layer is golden around the edges and cooked through. A traditional toothpick doneness test won’t do here because we want the top cream cheese mixture to still be loose and gooey. Part of baking is trust. Trust that time and temperature will cook the cake layer through and know that a rest in the refrigerator will set the cake to perfection.
This cake comes out of the oven smelling BEYOND but here’s the catch – this cake needs to cool to room temperature and then rest in the refrigerator for 2 hours. This rest period will set the gooey cream cheese just so.
Now, does the baker get the first slice? Is that something I heard somewhere?
The wonder of this cake is that it blurs the lines between cake and crust. Somehow to cake portion of this dessert feels like the crust and the cream cheese layer feels like an under-baked lemon blueberry muffin. It’s a big spoon cake. Don’t fuss with that dessert spoon.
Here’s your ooey gooey butter cake. Comment below with any questions or successes!
Other recipes that might suit you –
This lemon recipe is one of the most popular on the site: Almond Flour Lemon Raspberry Bars.
These blueberry recipe is a classic: Browned Butter Blueberry Muffins
And in case you thought this was my first rodeo here’s a Cinnamon Sugar St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake recipe.Print
Lemon Blueberry Gooey Butter Cake
- Prep Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
- Yield: 1 9-inch round cake 1x
- Category: dessert, holiday
A simple single layer cake made with lemon zest, fresh blueberry sauce, and gooey cream cheese topping.
For the Blueberry Topping:
- Heaping 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
- Pinch of salt
- 6 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
- 1 large egg
For the Lemon Cake:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/4 cup (165 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform panned set aside.
- First make the blueberry topping. In a small saucepan stir together blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, water and pinch of salt. Stir over medium-low heat until some of the blueberries begin to burst, the mixture simmers and thickens – 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a small bowl and allow to rest in the refrigerator.
- In a medium bowl, use electric hand beaters to beat cream cheese around the bowl to soften even more. Add powdered sugar and beat on low to combine. Beat in the egg. Allow to rest in the refrigerator while you make the cake batter.
- To make the lemon cake, in a medium bowl using electric hand beaters, combine melted butter, granulated sugar, egg, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add the flour, powder, and salt and beat on low speed to combine into a thick and smooth batter.
- Smooth the cake batter in an even layer across the bottom of the prepared pan. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the cake batter. It should be thin enough to spread across the cake but does not necessarily need to meet the sides of the pan. Spoon the blueberry mixture over the cream cheese layer in dollops and use a butterknife to just barely swirl the cake batter, cream cheese, and blueberry. Four to six swipes of the butterknife should do it.
- Bake cake for 35 to 40 minutes until the edges are deep golden and the middle seems set with a little jiggle. Remove from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature for 30 minutes and set in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. Enjoy the cake cold or leave room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving.
- To serve, run a knife along the edges of the cake to release the springform pan. Dust with powdered sugar, slice and enjoy!
I live in Brazil, I love your site.
I made this recipe, but drastically reduced the sugar and it turned out wonderful.
I posted my version on my blog and of course I mentioned you.
Hello! Can I make this with gluten-free all purpose flour instead? My MIL is gluten intolerant. Thanks!
I was thinking about making it with an Aldi GF cake mix, just adding in lemon zest and lemon juice instead of milk or water.
This is a lovely cake, but way too sweet. I would not make again unless I cut the sugar by at least half in the cream cheese filling–maybe even more.
Joy the Baker
Thanks for the feedback. Changing the amount of sugar that drastically will alter the texture of the cake significantly.
This looks delish! I live at 6500 feet. How would you alter the recipe for high altitude?
Hi, Suzanne! There’s a few tweaks that go into altering a recipe for high altitude. The best comprehensive answer I’ve found comes from King Arthur Flour and I’ll link it for you here. Essentially you’ll increase your oven but decrease the baking time. I hope this helps!
I cut the amount of sugar by about 1/4 in the cake part and by 2/3 in the cream cheese topping and it turned out great!
Thanks for trying it with less sugar and coming to share here! Reading through the recipe I couldn’t fathom putting that much sugar into it. I’ll definitely try it with your proportions of 1 cup of powdered sugar in the cream cheese and 1/2 a cup of sugar in the cake! Can’t wait to try it!
I wanted to bake anything with blueberries. Came across this lemon blueberry pie. Happened to have all needed ingredients. Thank you miss Joy the pie is very delicious. You are right the hardest thing here is to resist eating it before putting it to settle in the fridge. I only put half less sugar. Thank you again, tried your birthday cake and other recipes. Everything taste fantastic.
This cake was amazing and soo easy to make! Everyone said it tasted restaurant-quality good.
This cake, while it’s flavors of blueberry and lemon are nice, albeit subtle, is much, much too sweet. I mean crazy sweet. The textures are nice – and I made mine with Neufchatel with no problems – but, oh, the sweet! It just overpowers everything good about the cake.
if I use a lemon cake mix, do I use the whole amount? or the amount of flour etc? and add your wet ingredients? Looks delish!
Joy the Baker - Founder
If you use a lemon cake mix, make the whole cake mix according to the package instructions. Typically that means baked in 2 9-inch round cakes or 1 9×13-inch pan. If this is the case, you’ll want to double the recipes for the cream cheese fill and and the blueberry mixture.
Since it takes a nap in the fridge anyway, would this still be as delicious if I bake Saturday to serve for Mother’s Day on Sunday?
Delish! this was fun to make and really, really good. I used a fresh meyer lemon from our tree.
Thanks for the recipe!
St. Louis native here. Thanks for repping our gooey butter cake (and cheering for the Cardinals). This version looks amazing, will be baking soon.