Blueberry Coffee Cake (aka Boy Bait)
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This tender blueberry coffee cake topped with a crunchy cinnamon streusel is cleverly named for its habit-forming effect on boys.
This old-fashioned blueberry coffee cake comes with a darling name and story. In 1954, a 15-year-old girl from Chicago named Renny Powell submitted a blueberry coffee cake recipe to the Pillsbury $100,000 Recipe & Baking Contest (the precursor to today’s Pillsbury Bake-Off). Renny took second place in the junior division for her recipe, cleverly named “Boy Bait” for its habit-forming effect on young men.
Tender, easy to make, and jam-packed with berries, boy bait has been popular ever since. My version is updated with lemon zest to complement the flavor of the blueberries and a crunchy cinnamon streusel topping. You certainly don’t need to be a teenage boy to enjoy it, but I can attest that this 14-year-old loves it — so maybe Renny was onto something ?.
What You’ll Need To Make Blueberry Coffee Cake
Fresh blueberries are ideal for this coffee cake, but frozen will work, too. If you’re using frozen berries, stir them into the batter without thawing, otherwise they’ll turn the batter purple. If you have extra blueberries on hand, or find them on sale at the market, you might also enjoy my blueberry pancakes, blueberry cobbler, or lemon blueberry pound cake – all family favorites!
How To Make Blueberry Coffee Cake
To begin, make the streusel topping by combining the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl.
Using your fingers, mix until no lumps of brown sugar remain, then add the cold butter.
Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture reaches a crumbly state. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Next, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
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.
Gradually add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk, beating on low speed to combine.
The batter will be quite thick.
Add the berries to the batter.
Fold gently with a spatula until evenly distributed. Do not over-mix.
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. Enjoy!
You May Also Like
- Best Blueberry Muffins
- Blueberry Cornbread Muffins
- Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake
- Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Cinnamon-Walnut Swirl
- Blueberry Cobbler
- Crumb Cake
Blueberry Coffee Cake (AKA Blueberry Boy Bait)
This tender blueberry coffee cake topped with a crunchy cinnamon streusel is cleverly named for its habit-forming effect on boys.
For the Streusel Topping
- 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
For the Cake
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Per serving (16 servings)
- Serving size: 1 piece
- Calories: 223
- Fat: 10 g
- Saturated fat: 6 g
- Carbohydrates: 31 g
- Sugar: 15 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 3 g
- Sodium: 169 mg
- Cholesterol: 47 mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.
You were totally not kidding with the subtitle. After I made this for my husband, he requests it constantly! Another great recipe. Thank you.
This was good. I did forget to add the lemon zest. I think next time, I will cut down on the amount of cinnamon. I only have an 8×8 dish so I used it. I lined it with parchment paper. I did have to bake a little longer than the time given. My only complaint is that there were too many dishes to wash afterwards. Also, I mixed all by hand. I did not feel like bringing out the mixer. Thank you for the recipe.
I have made this recipe several times and absolutely love it!! Everywhere I bring this coffee cake, it gets rave reviews and requests for the recipe.
I always make two pans of it. I first made it in an 8×8” pan but 9×9” is a must!! It makes it cook evenly and perfect.
I found the streusel topping is time consuming but worth it. I make this the day before and refrigerate it. I cut the butter into the flour mixture then use a spoon to smush the butter into the dry ingredients until I can’t see any butter spots.
I can always count on Jenn for amazing, praise worth recipes!! I recommend Once Upon A Chef to everyone who loves wonderful food! Thank you Jenn!!
I love this cake! I’ve had to write it out though with the measurements in different format. For example the butter needs to be cool and cut into chunks but we are given measurements in tablespoons! Also I would really appreciate it if, like other recipe sites, you provided measurements in grams as well as cups.
Glad you like it, Lucy! And the great majority of my recipes (including this one) include conversions to metric/weight measurements. To view them, scroll down to the recipe, and immediately under the recipe title on the right side, you’ll see a little toggle. If you move it from “cup measures” to metric, you’ll see measurements that will work for you. Hope that helps!
This will be yummy but not the exact recipe submitted by Renny Powel. I have the Pillsbury Bake Off book with her pictures and recipe. Hers will be lighter since she uses granulated sugar not brown. She does not call for cinnamon. Yes it’s boy bait! I had half a pan in my car once when I ran into a friend on his Harley. I said “too bad you can’t take this boy bait”(he’d had at my house before). “What do you mean? Yes I can!”
Needless to say it went home with him in his s ‘side pocket’.
This was just ok. It was quick and simple to make, just not one I will make again. If looking for breakfast/dessert something with blueberries, Jenn’s lemon blueberry pound cake is out of this world amazing!
The recipe was okay, “Boy bait?” What is this, the 50s? Ewww. Gross.
This recipe is from the 50s. It was originally entered in a 1954 Pillsbury baking contest, where a teenage girl named it and entered it to win a cash prize and have her recipe printed in a Pillsbury cookbook.
I for one loved this recipe. It is my go to and I always get rave reviews. Thanks for posting this recipe 🤗
Something tells me you didn’t actually make the recipe, Kathleen. 😉
BTW, this cake is delicious.
Very easy and everyone loved it! Thanks for another great one, Jenn!
The cake came out excellent! I cannot put my finger on what’s different about this recipe, I’ve baked many coffee cakes before with varied results. Maybe it was just meant to be! I loved a touch of salt in the topping and a little lemon flavor of the cake. Made with frozen blueberries and was done in 40 min plus 5 more with the oven turned off. No worries about streusel getting less crunchy tomorrow, there won’t be much left! Thank you Jenn for a fantastic recipe!
How do you store this cake to keep the top crunchy? The following day my coffee cake topping lost it’s crunch.
Hi Jay, 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. The topping will naturally lose its crispiness but you could always pop leftovers in the oven (very briefly) to crisp up the top.
Hi Jay, I have a banana bread recipe with a crunchy top and the recipe creator said to keep it crunchy do not wrap it but cover the exposed slice with a piece of foil. Works really well!
This cake is absolutely delicious, for the streusel topping I used less flour and added oatmeal, I used 2/3 cup sugar in the cake mix and 1/4 cup melted butter mixed with 1/4 unsweetened applesauce, and lemon extract because I didn’t have zest…I found the batter a little too thick so added a bit more milk than called for…WOW, turned out amazing, the top was really crispy, a true coffee cake just the way we like it…mmmmm
What size pan do you suggest using for this? Thanks!
Hi Elana, You’ll need a 9-inch/23-cm baking pan. Hope you enjoy!
This is the bomb of coffee cakes. Dusted it lightly with powdered sugar since I served it on a special occasion. The lemon zest adds just the right touch. I’ll be making this on repeat. Thank you for another amazing recipe!
Made this wonderful blueberry coffee cake. Sorry I didn’t get a chance to take a picture. My family ate half of it before I remembered to get one. 🤣
I will definitely make this again. Followed everything in the recipe and even added juice from half a lemon into the batter before baking. (Just to increase the lemon flavor)
Absolutely delicious! Thanks again for another winning recipe.
Didn’t encounter any of the issues that others ran into. It was full of flavor and so satisfying!! Made in an 8×8 glass pan and had to bump the time up to about 53 minutes for the middle to fully cook. Boyfriend also LOVED IT!
The only error in this recipe is that it is supposed to be 12-16 servings. It is 9, at best! 😁
I will be making this recipe this weekend. I’d like to know why it’s called a Blueberry Coffee Cake when there is no coffee in the cake.
Hi Noreen, Sorry for any confusion. Coffee cake doesn’t actually contain any coffee; it’s just called that as it would be nice served with a cup of coffee. Hope that clarifies!
Hi Jen your recipe says you can freeze this coffee cake. Will the topping still be crunchy? We are not in a habit of freezing your recipes. (CAKE)
Hi Janis, The topping will lose most of its crunch. You could always pop it into the oven at a low temperature for a few minutes to crisp up the top if you’d like.
This is really good. I made it to have to take for breakfast during the work week. I was sending it with my son and thought he was eating it. A few days later he said his friends were asking for me to make it-they had been eating it all along (my son just had his at home). Picking up blueberries tomorrow to make again for them. This truly is boy bait!
Oh my goodness! I just finished baking this and couldn’t wait for it to cool down. All I have to say is this is divine! I followed your recipe to a T! Perfect and it’s so delicious!
Thank you for a wonderful recipe, I will definitely make this again and again. Take care. 🙂
Made this recipe but forgot to add the lemon zest. Flavor and texture were good but the blueberries were a bit tart so perhaps a bit more sugar in the batter might have helped. The crumble had just the right amount of cinnamon but my husband said he would have liked more. The aroma was fabulous as the cake was cooking. Good recipe.
very tasty.. just wanted to offer that I made this in a 9×13 pan and still was perfect.
Amazing thank you for sharing
has anyone had success with swapping raspberries for blueberries? my daughter doesn’t like blueberries 🤦🏻♀️
A few people have commented that they’ve made this successfully with raspberries. I’d love to hear what you think if you try it!
Made this for Christmas morning and it is delicious! Thank you.
First time making this for Christmas and it was a success! My husband enjoyed it so much. I didn’t realize that I only have 100g of fresh blueberry so I added frozen blueberry/strawberry, and it turned out great too.
Probably too late for an answer, but could I prepare this the night before and store in the fridge, then bake in the morning?
Hi MJ, I’m obviously weighing in too late to help but in general, it doesn’t work to refrigerate cake/muffin batter as they won’t rise well when you go to bake them. For future reference, you can mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another and then combine them and proceed with the recipe when you’re ready to bake it.
I made this recipe and it was absolutely delicious! The cake is moist and the streusel topping adds a pleasant crunch.
I made this. Only changes I made were I used almond milk and I Meyer lemon zest. It turned out phenomenal. Mine was perfectly moist, and the lemon flavor was incredibly good. I will be saving this recipe and will make it again and again. I loved it
This is one of my go to recipes. It is always a big hit.
Jennifer: Does it make any difference if you use non-fat milk vs. whole milk? I used non-fat, and I’m wondering if whole milk would make the cake moister.
It really doesn’t make a difference. Hope you enjoy if you make it!
I followed the directions above to a T, except I only had a little less than a cup of fresh blueberries, so that’s all I put in. I baked it in a 9X9 glass pan at 375 for 40 minutes, and added another 5 minutes when my toothpick came out gummy. It is very yummy, especially when still warm from the oven! I really appreciate the detailed instructions, since I have no professional baking or culinary experience. Little things, like the detail to whip the butter and sugar until creamy…”about two minutes” (so that’s how long it takes to get creamy!), and wrap it in alumimum foil for the freezer but wait until it’s completely cooled, are appreciated.
The only slight negative thing I have to say is that the streusel tasted a little bit salty to me. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have the full measure of blueberries, but next time I will probably leave the salt out of the streusel. Also, while my streusel came out looking just like in her photos, I prefer a wetter streusel that drips down into the cake. I couldn’t get the streusel to be anything but a lumpy powder, so next time I might shave the butter cube with a knife to make smaller pieces of the butter to mix with the dry portion.
As for the commenter that the cake was bitter, I must ask whether that person might have scraped too deeply into the lemon rind. Just zest the yellow of the rind, which is very thin; the white part is bitter. And for the commenter that said she had bare spots in her streusel and it’s not enough for the cake, I ask whether she used the right size pan. I had plenty of streusel with the recommended pan size.
Hi Jenn— could this batter be baked in a Bundt pan and somehow topped with something yummy after it’s removed from the pan? I’ve made it in a cake pan and it’s superb, like every other recipe of yours that I’ve tried!
Hi Carol, I haven’t tried this in a bundt pan but I think it’d work – I’d increase the recipe by 1.5 though. Please LMK how it turns out!
Thos cake is NOT good. Was super excited to use my leftover blueberries, but I should have chosen a different recipe. Cake is almost bitter. The batter tasted really good, but finished product, not so much.
I made a mistake and used jumbo blueberries
I coated them with a little of the flour but they not only sank to the bottom but also burst making the bottom soggy
Easy and fabulous, hubby loved it! Not too sweet.
For a Yom Kippur Break Fast meal: do you recommend this recipe or your blueberry muffin recipe? I need to be able to cook the day before, so that is part of the question.
Hi Joni, I’d probably go with this. The muffins tend to get a little soggy if not eaten the day they’re made. Hope you enjoy!
This turned out so delicious. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe. I substituted the eggs for 1/2 cup applesauce. And reduced the granulated sugar to 1/2 a cup since the blueberries and topping are already so sweet. Let’s say I wanted to omit berries and make a plain coffee cake. Would the recipe still work?
Thank you Jen
Hi Jennifer, I do think it would work, although it may be a bit sweet, as the tart blueberries offset the sweetness.