I like to think of this recipe as a redneck twist on pumpkin pie. In truth, it’s a holiday twist on a popular redneck recipe, but let’s not split hairs. This decadent, gooey, decidedly bad-for-you dessert has become a holiday favorite among my friends and family, and it’s well on the way to becoming a tradition. Butter cake really isn’t a cake at all, more like a dense cake-pie hybrid; not even the most stoic pumpkin pie loyalists are immune to the allure of this stuff.
“Throw the box away, directions and all. Feels good, doesn’t it?”
Having been born and (mostly) raised in California, I had never heard of butter cake before a few years ago. All desserts in California are strictly forbidden by law to have flavor or calories, and they must also include organic agave syrup, Brussels sprouts, and lima bean flour. My spouse, a proud Texan, set me straight and introduced me to butter cake, and I have been a huge fan ever since. This particular recipe is essentially the same as Paula Deen’s, but with a couple of minor tweaks.
- 1 box of regular old yellow cake mix
- 1 stick unsalted butter (8 tbsp)
- 1 egg
- 1 can pumpkin (15 oz)
- 1 package cream cheese (8 oz)
- 1 stick unsalted butter (8 tbsp)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 1 box (or bag) powdered sugar (16 oz)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
Other stuff you’ll need
- an electric hand mixer
- a large mixing bowl
- a 13×9 baking dish
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Open up the box of yellow cake mix and dump the contents into the mixing bowl. Throw the box away, directions and all. Feels good, doesn’t it? It’s fun being a kitchen rebel. Melt the stick of butter (30 seconds in the microwave will do the job), pour it into the cake mix, and give it a quick spin with the mixer. Add the egg and mix well. On a quick aside, you need to be careful anytime you are mixing any hot ingredients with raw egg. If you add one directly to the other, you run the risk of partially cooking the egg before it can get properly mixed in. Anywho, when you’re done you should end up with a bowl of thick yellow stuff the consistency of cookie dough. Lightly grease the 13×9 baking dish and press the cake mixture into the bottom in an even layer. You don’t need to be gentle – just smash the hell out of it and make sure it gets all the way into the corners.
Now it’s time to start working on the filling. It’s very important to make sure the cream cheese is room temperature at this point – it won’t mix right when it’s cold. You can attempt to carefully microwave it if you so desire, but I never like how it turns out. If you’re working with refrigerator temperature cream cheese, really your best bet is to just leave it out on the counter and go do something else for 45 minutes.
Mix the (now softened) cream cheese and the pumpkin until well blended and silky smooth. Melt the butter and add it to the mixture along with the vanilla and eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon – feel free to double up on the cinnamon if you like. I find that nutmeg tends to clump, so make extra sure there aren’t any nuggets of the stuff lurking around in the sugar mixture. Biting into a powdery pocket of nutmeg is similar to eating underarm deodorant; avoid this if you possibly can. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet, taking care not to fling powdered sugar into the farthest corners of your kitchen.
Pour the pumpkin mixture on top of the cake layer. Using the back of a spoon, “coax” the pumpkin mixture into the corners of the pan and make sure the whole thing is nice and level. Carefully place the pan in the oven and set the timer for 50 minutes.
When the timer goes off, take the cake out of the oven. Don’t think, just do it. The cake will appear to be very liquidy, but don’t panic. Trust me. The first time I made this I thought I had completely screwed it up, but this is how it’s supposed to be. If you are using a glass pan, you will be able to see that the cake is nice and toasty brown on the bottom – that means it’s done. Resist the urge to bake it for longer and just let it cool for a while. It will set up nicely over the next hour or so.
Slice it into squares, serve it with ice cream or Cool Whip or however you like it, and enjoy. You may never buy another pumpkin pie again.
- Pumpkin Butter Cake – Mostly Homemade Mom
- Pumpkin Butter Cake – basilmomma
- How to Make Gooey Butter Cake: Unlike Anything Else!