20130716-215255.jpgThis is not how my standard Tuesday night looks. Tuesdays for me are usually all about grey marle track pants and an episode of Law and Order if there's any going. But this week, THIS WEEK, I dreamed big and baked up a variation of the Gooey St Louis butter cake I went mad for last year (so mad I made it three times in one month)(which is pretty mad, when you consider the ingredients). Deb had made a few changes to the recipe for her Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, which I very graciously and hungrily got for Christmas, and I had been meaning to give it a try. In the interest of research, of course. This version is more of a cake batter as it doesn't use yeast, and the addition of cinnamon - which got all caramelly and creme-brulee-like on top - was a delight. My house smelt like love.

It's a little busy with all the dishes, and uses far too much sugar than is good for you, but I wouldn't change a thing. I'd note that my oven runs quite hot, mostly just at the base, so it can easily be over-cooked. And this is a big issue - the charm of the Gooey St Louis is in the gooey. It feels wrong to get it out when the top layer is all a-wobble, just lightly set on the surface, but make sure you do. If overcooked the base dries out and you lose all the joy of the gooey part, till it's just plain old cake. Remember that it will set as it cools, so you really just want a little depth or firmness at the sides, and a whole lot of soft batter in the middle.

I took it to work to share for a pot-luck lunch and it didn't last the day. Which is to be expected, really...

Adapted (very vaguely) from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

INGREDIENTS (BASE) * 115 grams of butter (soft) * 1 1/2 cups of flour * 1 teaspoon of baking powder * 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda * 1/4 teaspoon of salt * 3/4 cup of white sugar * 1 egg * 1/4 cup of milk (GOOEY BIT) * 1/4 cup of maple syrup * 1/4 cup of heavy cream * 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract (though I used essence - I'd ran out of the good stuff) * 170 grams of butter (soft) * 1 cup of white sugar * 1/4 teaspoon of salt * 1 egg * 1 1/4 cups of flour (TOPPING BIT) * 1 tablespoon of white sugar * 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

METHOD Preheat the oven to 180 and grease and line a large baking dish. You will need a little height on the dish and a rectangle is the best for cutting once it's baked.

To make the base, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. In another bowl (or an electric mixer if you play like that), mix together the soft butter and sugar with a whisk until they are light and fluffy. Add the egg and milk to the mixture and beat until combined. Then add in the dry ingredients and beat for a further few minutes until the mixture is thick and even. Pour into the baking dish and spread to the edges (the batter is quite thick and sticky).

Next, mix together the maple, cream and vanilla in a small bowl and set aside. In a bowl (or that fancy mixer), beat together the butter and sugar for the gooey layer and then pause. Take a moment to appreciate just how much butter and just how much sugar you are about to ingest. Be grateful for the chance to indulge so widely and gooey-ly, then beat in the egg and the salt. Once it feels rich and even, slowly add part of the flour and part of the creamy maple mix, stir some more, and repeat until everything is just combined. Dollop over the base and spread out to the edges of the dish with the back of a spoon.

In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle over the gooey layer in the baking dish. This makes for the caramel / creme-brulee-like business.

Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, keeping your eye on the oven the whole dang time. If needs be, turn it down a little to make sure you get the base cooked without the top drying out. Once golden, allow it to cool for at least ten minutes before serving. It's lovely warm, but will be a runny mess if you try to share it straight out of the oven. Have a little patience and, if you like, a little cream on hand to cut the richness that is the GOOEY ST LOUIS.