Food & Drink

Grandbaby Cakes’ Gooey-Gooey Cake

by Kristina Gill

This week’s recipe for the Original Gooey-Gooey Cake comes from an In the Kitchen With veteran, Jocelyn Delk Adams. Jocelyn is the creator of the Grandbaby Cakes blog, where she turns out an amazing number of recipes covering the gamut of baked goods. Her first book, Grandbaby Cakes Cookbook, a cookbook which tells the story of the women in her family and how the recipes they share have shaped her love for baking, comes out in September. The next time you need a quick and easy sheet cake to take to a party or gathering, try this cake out! If you prefer loaf cakes, you can try Jocelyn’s recipe for Sweet Potato Pound Cake in our archives. —Kristina

Why Jocelyn loves this recipe: After Aunt Beverly handed over this classic recipe to our family, it instantly became a classic. My older brother André had a habit of asking for my mom to make this cake several times a year, whether it was for his birthday, Easter or just because he got an A at school. It became his “special” cake. My mom ended up making the cake so much that she knew the recipe by heart, and eventually, so did I.


Recipe image: © Jocelyn Delk Adams Author image: © Chuck Olu-Alabi

Original Gooey-Gooey Cake
Serves 20–24

It’s funny how a craze can begin. A few years ago, the baking world was consumed by a gooey butter cake trend. Little did most people know that this cake was invented decades ago — in St. Louis, not the South. In fact, my mom first received this recipe from my Aunt Beverly, a St. Louis resident, over 20 years ago. She would make it whenever we visited her and her family: my Uncle Richard and my cousins LaKeisha and Raquel.

I can definitely see why the craze caught fire. The cake itself is quite a feat! It is about as easy a baking recipe as there is, but the taste is out-of-this-world good! The bottom layer starts with yellow cake mix, but bakes into a buttery blondie texture that serves as the ideal vehicle for the cream cheese custard topping. I guess you could say that Aunt Beverly was a pioneer in the gooey-cake movement. At least, I like to think so.

Bottom Cake Layer
-1 (15.25-ounce) box classic yellow cake mix or 1 recipe From-Scratch Yellow Cake Mix
(recipe follows)
-1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
-2 large eggs, room temperature

Gooey Top Layer
-2 cups confectioners’ sugar
-1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
-2 large eggs, room temperature
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-Pinch of salt

For the bottom cake layer

1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Liberally prepare a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with the nonstick method of your choice. (I recommend the parchment method described on p. 17.)

2. In a large bowl, whisk together all the ingredients until combined and thick. Evenly pat the batter into the bottom of the prepared pan.

For the gooey top layer

1. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the sugar, cream cheese, eggs, vanilla extract, and salt over low speed. Once the sugar is fully incorporated, turn your mixer speed to high. Continue beating until all ingredients are well blended.

2. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, on top of the bottom layer, and spread it evenly across the pan using a spatula. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The center should still be gooey and will look underbaked.

3. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve in the pan at room temperature.

From-Scratch Yellow Cake Mix


-1 and 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
-1 cup granulated sugar
-3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
-3 tablespoons malt powder or powdered milk
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt

1. In a food processor, combine all the ingredients and grind until the butter is fully incorporated and fine crumbs form. Use immediately, or transfer to a resealable plastic bag and store in the freezer until ready to use.

About Jocelyn: Jocelyn Delk Adams is the founder of Grandbaby Cakes, a food blog inspired by her grandmother and devoted to classic desserts and modern trends in pastry.  Her work has been featured in Better Homes and Gardens, Ebony, the New York Times, People, Food52, The Kitchn, the Chicago Sun-Times, and more. She is also the founder of “A Charitable Confection,” an annual anti-violence dessert fundraiser featuring the top bakeries in Chicago. You can find Jocelyn on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.


Reprinted with permission from Grandbaby Cakes by Jocelyn Delk Adams, Agate Surrey, 2015.

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  • I cannot wait to get my hands on this book! If this is any indication of what I can expect, it is destined to become a well-loved favorite. This recipe looks outstanding and I love the history behind it.

  • I love gooey butter cake! You find it everywhere here in St. Louis. I’ve never tried to make it, but I will have to now!

  • I am so happy to find this pin.Me too Allie!The history makes it even more delicious.

  • We call these chess squares in my family, and they are signature southern dessert. You can always tell a southern dessert because it uses a cake mix to make something that’s not a cake. Every time I make these for an occasion, people are overwhelmed by how delicious they are.

  • Thanks Niece for the great acknowledgement in your first book. I’m glad that I was able to inspire you and that you could use my recipe. The family is very EXCITED for your success…may God continue to bless you with each endeavours that you pursue!!!! I am sooo proud of you…We love you sooo much….your Auntie Beverly!!!

  • I just did this today and I think I might need a picture of what it looks like when it’s time to take it out of the oven. The taste is great, but mine was more soupy than gooey. I’m kind of a beginner.

  • Great cake, making it again today. I used an extra large pie pan lined with parchment as I didn’t have a rectangular pan available. The cake popped out in a pretty round shape. Served as wedges.

  • How do you get cakes out of pan to match your pretty picture? I was so excited to read the recipe so I could get the directions for how you styled the shoot. Alas, “Serve in the pan at room temperature.” didn’t do it. Sigh.