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Blueberry Coffee Cake Recipe aka 'Boy Bait'

In the world of baking lore, there exists a confection that transcends its humble beginnings: blueberry coffee cake, affectionately known as "boy bait." This delightful treat, dating back to 1954, owes its charming moniker to Renny Powell, a 15-year-old culinary prodigy from Chicago. Her recipe, a starry-eyed submission to the Pillsbury $100,000 Recipe & Baking Contest, captured hearts and taste buds alike, earning second place in the junior division.

Renowned for its tender crumb generously speckled with juicy blueberries and crowned with a seductive cinnamon streusel, this cake was christened "boy bait" for its reputed ability to ensnare the affections of young men. Today, this classic has evolved, infused with lemon zest to enhance the berry’s natural sweetness. While its origins may be rooted in teenage romance, this delectable creation proves irresistible to all who partake — a timeless testament to the enduring allure of a well-crafted dessert.

Recipe from Once Upon a Chef

Blueberry Coffee Cake
Blueberry Coffee Cake Photo: Once Upon a Chef

Servings: 12 to 16

Prep Time: 30 Minutes

Cook Time: 40 Minutes

Total Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes



  • 6 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into ½-inch chunks


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, softened

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon packed lemon zest, from 1 lemon

  • ½ cup milk

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries (frozen may be used but do not defrost)


  1. Make the streusel topping: Combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Using your fingers, mix until no lumps of brown sugar remain. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until it reaches a crumbly state. Refrigerate until ready to use.

  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Grease a 9-inch square pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray.

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.

  5. Gradually add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk, beating on low speed to combine. Add the berries to the batter and fold gently with a spatula until evenly distributed. Do not over-mix.

  6. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the batter. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until golden brown around the edges and a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a rack for about 20 minutes, then serve right from the pan.

  7. This cake is best served on the day it is made. Leftovers will keep well for a few days wrapped in foil and stored at room temperature.

  8. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. After it is completely cooled, double-wrap it securely with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap, or place it in heavy-duty freezer bag. Thaw overnight on the countertop before serving.


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