We made the Reddit-famous 'Gory Cake' — and it's a buttery, gooey delight

It's an easy way to upgrade boxed cake mix.
"What initially caught my eye about this recipe was baking the cream cheese on top of the cake," said the Redditor who posted it.
"What initially caught my eye about this recipe was baking the cream cheese on top of the cake," said the Redditor who posted it.Terri Peters / TODAY
/ Source: TODAY

While going through boxes of old client files, a Reddit user found a gooey treasure.

Redditor u/mrpeabodyscoaltrain, who works as an attorney in Tennessee and preferred to remain anonymous, shared a photo of an old recipe he found while destroying closed files in his office, and the Reddit baking community went crazy for it.

Written in cursive handwriting on a yellowing piece of lined paper, the recipe for "Gory Cake" includes a stick of margarine, chopped pecans and an interesting topping of cream cheese, eggs and an entire 16-ounce box of powdered sugar.

But u/mrpeabodyscoaltrain says after doing some research, he thinks the name of the recipe may be written incorrectly.

The recipe for this "Gory Cake" was uploaded to Reddit by an attorney who found it inside an old box.Terri Peters

"I did a little bit of research, and apparently this is 'Gooey Cake,'" he told TODAY Food. "It is a Missouri recipe based on everything I've read. I'm not sure who wrote down the recipe, it was just stuffed in a box."

According to Grandbaby Cakes founder Jocelyn Delk Adams, who has a recipe for "Ooey Gooey Butter Cake" on this very site, this cake was invented decades ago, in St. Louis — not the South, as many have come to believe.

Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

Jocelyn Delk Adams

While he hasn't made the cake yet himself, u/mrpeabodyscoaltrain says what stood out to him most was the cream cheese topping.

"What initially caught my eye about this recipe was baking the cream cheese on top of the cake," he said. "I thought that was a little odd."

I, too, was intrigued by the baked layer of cream cheese, not to mention using a quarter cup of margarine and no actual liquids in the recipe. So, I tried the recipe out for myself.

The ingredients for "Gory Cake" include margarine and a box of powdered sugar.Terri Peters

The cake, which the recipe says should be baked in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, has two layers. The first, made of yellow cake mix, margarine, an egg and chopped pecans, was incredibly sticky. It was a challenge to follow the recipe's instructions to "pat into bottom of pan," but thanks to some cooking spray and a silicone spatula, I got it taken care of.

"This must be why it's called 'gooey cake,'" I thought to myself.

On the left: the initial layer of batter, pressed into the pan. On the right: the cream cheese, powdered sugar and egg topping.Terri Peters

Then came the second layer: cream cheese, eggs and powered sugar. The recipe says to mix the ingredients and layer them on top of the batter, but again, the mixture was so sticky, it required a lot of concentration.

"This must be why it's called 'gooey cake,'" I thought to myself, again.

After cleaning my sticky hands, it was time to pop my Gory Cake into the oven. I followed the recipe, baking it for 50 minutes at 350 F.

The gooey center of "Gory Cake."Terri Peters

When the cake came out of the oven, the first thing I noticed was the golden brown crispness of the cream cheese topping. It was beautiful and I couldn't wait to cut into my creation.

The bottom layer of margarine, cake and pecans was soft, warm, buttery heaven. It tasted like the smell my home was filled with while baking it: like warm caramel popcorn or warm toffee.

And yes, the inside of the cake is gooey.

While baking the cake, my home smelled like warm caramel popcorn.Terri Peters

And yes, again, I thought, "This must be why it's called 'gooey cake.'"

Gory or gooey, the cake was delicious. It's a unique way to make use of a boxed cake mix, and, while I'm not sure it would be a part of my go-to dessert recipe repertoire — like Nana's Devils Food cake — it was a fun, nostalgic thing to bake.

It's that nostalgia that u/mrpeabodyscoaltrain says led him to share the old recipe in the first place.

"Older recipes in general are fascinating because they let us see into how people of the past ate," he said. "Old family recipes are especially fascinating because they show the traditions of different families."