Blueberry Coffee Cake (aka Boy Bait)

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Blueberry Coffee Cake

This tender blueberry coffee cake topped with a crunchy cinnamon streusel is cleverly named for its habit-forming effect on boys.

blueberry coffee cake

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

how to make blueberry coffee cake

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.

how to make blueberry coffee cake

Using your fingers, mix until no lumps of brown sugar remain, then add the cold butter.

how to make blueberry coffee cake

Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture reaches a crumbly state. Refrigerate until ready to use.

how to make blueberry coffee cake

Next, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

how to make blueberry coffee cake

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar until creamy, about 2 minutes.

how to make blueberry coffee cake

Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating well after each addition.

how to make blueberry coffee cake

Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.

how to make blueberry coffee cake

Gradually add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk, beating on low speed to combine.

how to make blueberry coffee cake

The batter will be quite thick.

how to make blueberry coffee cake

Add the berries to the batter.

how to make blueberry coffee cake

Fold gently with a spatula until evenly distributed. Do not over-mix.

how to make blueberry coffee cake

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly.

how to make blueberry coffee cake

Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the batter.

how to make blueberry coffee cake

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until golden brown around the edges and a cake tester comes out clean.

how to make blueberry coffee cake

Let cool in the pan on a rack for about 20 minutes, then serve right from the pan. Enjoy!

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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.

Servings: 12 to 16
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 40 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes

Ingredients

For the Streusel Topping

  • 6 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

For the Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon packed lemon zest, from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries (frozen may be used but do not defrost)

Instructions

  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.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • 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.

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Comments

  • If I used different sweeteners other than sugar you think it would still turn out good? What would you recommend? Thanks!!

    • — Jourdan on November 25, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Jourdan, I wish I could help but I’ve never worked with sugar substitutes so I can’t say how it would impact this. (If it helps at all, I have read plenty of comments from readers who’ve said they’ve replaced some or all of the sugar in a recipe with a substitute like Stevia and have had good results.) Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on November 26, 2021
      • Reply
  • This coffee cake is SCRUMPTIOUS. I’ve been making it for friends and family again & again. 😍 I added more lemon zest (cuz I always do that!) and tried 1.5 times the crumble (again cuz “”). It’s a little tricky but we liked putting half the crumble in the middle and the rest on top. It looks pretty too. Love your recipe, it makes me feel like a professional baker, thanks for sharing! 👌🏻😉

    • — Kmalia on November 18, 2021
    • Reply
  • One word…
    YUMMY!
    Thank you!!

    • — Leslie on November 14, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is a great recipe. I didn’t change a thing. I did take it out of the oven after 32 minutes. I’m glad I did as the cake was perfectly moist.

    • — Marilee on November 12, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is the BEST recipe. I’ve made it twice for company and both times, it was GONE. I use Jenn’s recipes weekly, and this is in the top 5 favorites. Perfect texture, moisture, and flavor combination between the lemon/blueberries/streusel. It’s also fool-proof.

    • — Sarah on November 4, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made without vanilla extract,added little lemon juice. Came out perfect,love the lemon in the cake.will make again

    • — Brenda Fortner on October 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Only used half the topping and the cake was dry.

    • — LizaB on October 7, 2021
    • Reply
  • If I made this into a 9×13 pan would I x1.5 the recipe?

    Thanks!

    • — Mel on September 21, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Mel, I’d actually double it. Baking time may be slightly different so keep a close eye on it. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 21, 2021
      • Reply
  • I made this delicious coffee cake with two substitutions: substituted one egg with apple sauce (because I only had one egg) and lime rind instead of lemon. I’ll definitely make again.

    • — Elaine on September 13, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is a fantastic recipe. I’ve already made it twice. Once with friends who came for coffee and also brought to a luncheon. Both times a hit. The cake is moist and rich but still a light texture. Just the right amount of sweetness and the blueberries are the star. This is my first review but all your recipes I’ve tried are delicious and turn out beautifully. Happy to have found you!

    • — Judy on September 9, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is the go to recipe.

    • — Frank on September 4, 2021
    • Reply
  • Did you mention the size pan?

    • — john hartmann on September 3, 2021
    • Reply
    • Yes, you’ll need a 9-inch square pan. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 3, 2021
      • Reply
  • I made this as the recipe states but substituted GF flour for regular AP flour. It came out amazing!!! I agree that the cake isn’t overly sweet but I think coffee cake in general isn’t that sweet. If you wanted it sweeter, I believe you could make a little icing out of confectioner’s sugar and milk or half and half and drizzle it over the top of the crumb topping. I will definitely make this again!!

    • — TJ on August 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • I am looking to make this and live in Denver where the elevation is 5,280. What adjustments should I make to the recipe since I am baking at high altitude?

    • — Dana on August 31, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Dana, Thanks for your note. I don’t have experience baking at high altitudes so, unfortunately, I don’t have any wisdom to share – I’m sorry! You may find these tips helpful though.

      • — Jenn on August 31, 2021
      • Reply
  • So incredible! I know I am not the only one who says this but ALL your recipes are winners! I also made this gf (Bobs Redmill 1:1)because my daughter is celiac and you could not even taste that it was gluten free!
    Thanks so so much Jenn!!!

    • — Jennifer Patzer on August 30, 2021
    • Reply
    • 💗

      • — Jenn on August 30, 2021
      • Reply
  • This recipe is amazing. The cake texture is very moist & soft. I used frozen blueberries, which left some purple streaks to my batter when I folded the berries in (despite not thawing the berries). I’ll definitely try making this cake again using fresh blueberries and see if it works well. Nonetheless the taste is amazing and I really enjoy this cake. Thank you ! 🙂

    • — AJ on August 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Can I substitute raspberries for the blueberries. I am making them for a morning work meeting and would like a variety of coffee cakes.

    • — Shawna on August 20, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Shawna, this should work nicely with raspberries. Depending on how tart the raspberries are, you may want to add just a bit more sugar. I’d love to hear how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on August 22, 2021
      • Reply
    • Just a tip! Sifting your frozen berries in a teaspoon or so of flour before adding them to your batter will keep the colour from seeping into the batter when mixing!

      • — Genna on November 18, 2021
      • Reply
  • I love this cake! My whole family ate it up so quickly, I’m going to make another. What do you think about freezing it? Any experience freezing it whole, in the pan, topping and all?

    • — Jan on August 20, 2021
    • Reply
    • So glad you enjoyed it! Yes, it can definitely be frozen — see the bottom of the recipe for freezer-friendly instructions.

      • — Jenn on August 22, 2021
      • Reply
    • Hi. Lovely cake, light and moist. However I was looking for the coffee in the ingredients. I think the name is misleading as some people drink tea! I started making the cake before I realized the ‘coffee’ is just in the name.

      • — Rosalie Kennedy on October 18, 2021
      • Reply
      • Sorry for the confusion!

        • — Jenn on October 19, 2021
        • Reply
  • This cake is delicious! Thank you for sharing. I tried another blueberry cake and it didn’t have the nice flavor this one has. It was bland. I could eat this cake by itself but who would pass on streusel topping?

    • — Marcie on August 19, 2021
    • Reply
  • Disappointing recipe. Thought it lacked flavor. Big fan of this website overall.

    • — Hailey on August 16, 2021
    • Reply
  • Delicious cake, followed recipe exactly as written and came out beautiful. I have fresh blueberries just picked and this was the perfect use for two cups. I am trying again today but ran out of vanilla and fresh lemon so I substituted almond and orange will get back and let you know how it is.

    • — Jacqui on August 14, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is a great recipe. It is moist and soft. I made it in a 9-inch springform pan and sliced it in wedges like a cake. Because of the the lemon zest, this will also be good with fresh or frozen cranberries. I will definitely make it again. Thank you for sharing your recipe. I will check out your other recipes.

    • — Alice on August 6, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is the best blueberry Coffee cake ever. I doubled the recipe for xtra people this time. HUGE hit! Is it absolutely the best!!!!!

    • — Nancy S on August 3, 2021
    • Reply
    • Do you recall, or made notes, on how long you baked it?

      • — GMJ on October 2, 2021
      • Reply
  • Made this today and it was delicious!! Only problem was all my blueberries sank to the bottom of the pan. Any suggestions as to what I did wrong?

    • — Mo on July 30, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Mo, Sorry to hear your blueberries sunk. What brand of flour did you use? I have great luck with King Arthur all-purpose flour. It’s slightly higher in protein than some other brands which helps to give cakes more structure (and keeps fruit from sinking). Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on July 30, 2021
      • Reply
    • I got it ready to put in the oven, but then plans changed and I never got around to baking it. Was it ok to freeze it before I bake it?

      • — Ann on August 8, 2021
      • Reply
      • Hi Ann, I’ve never tried freezing cake batter, so I can’t guarantee how it will turn out when you bake it, but I just read online that it’s possible. Please LMK how the cake turns out when you bake it!

        • — Jenn on August 9, 2021
        • Reply
    • I learned this on the Great British Baking show, to avoid your fruits from sinking to the bottom of your bake, lightly toss them in flour and shake the excess off. It should keep your fruit of choice suspended within the bake. Hope this helps!

      • — kal on August 8, 2021
      • Reply
  • Thank you for this wonderful recipe. The streusel topping is buttery, decadent and delicious. The cake is perfect with just the right amount of sweetness. I did reduce the amount of butter in the cake to be a bit more healthy, using 1/2 stick of butter plus 3 tablespoons of canola oil. This is my new favorite coffee cake!

    • — Amy on July 24, 2021
    • Reply
  • Followed the recipe exactly. Baked in a glass 9×9. Took 45 minutes. Blueberry lovers perfect coffee cake. It is just sweet enough that the true flavor of blueberries shines through.

    • — Linda on July 20, 2021
    • Reply
  • Thank you for the recipe, I made it yesterday. I agree with another reviewer saying it needed a touch more sweetness in the main cake part. I would say a full 1 cup of sugar would be good. And this coming from someone who doesnt like my desserts very sweet –I usually reduce the sugar. Otherwise it was good, loved the topping.

    • — Taz on July 20, 2021
    • Reply
  • I just made this today. It’s good but I think it could use a little something additional. I put the amount of sugar the recipe listed and it isn’t quite sweet enough. It has more of the flavor of a bread, less of a coffee cake. Perhaps my blueberries weren’t sweet enough? I used organic wild blueberries.

    I usually don’t like things very sweet, for me to say it isn’t sweet enough is saying something. I might make a drizzle for it. It is moist though and pretty, it tastes okay just not as good as I was expecting it to. I didn’t make any mistakes with the measurements, do you have any suggestions as to what I might have done wrong?

    • — Janice H on July 19, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Janice, sorry you didn’t love this! If you found that it wasn’t sweet enough, I’d guess that perhaps your blueberries were pretty tart. You could try adding up to 1/4 more sugar if you make this again but a better option would be to taste the blueberries and make sure they’re really sweet ones. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on July 19, 2021
      • Reply
  • Is there a way to make this vegan?

    • — Jen Beddia on July 15, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Jen, It looks like you’d need to make several adjustments to make this vegan — other readers have mentioned that they’ve replaced the butter with coconut oil, you could use non-dairy milk, and for the eggs, two of the best substitutes I’ve heard about (I haven’t personally tried either of them) are a combination of water, oil, and baking powder, and carbonated water. Scroll down to the bottom of this article for more information about both. I would assume many recipes would also work with some kind of store-bought egg substitute. Please LMK how it turns out if you make all these changes!

      • — Jenn on July 16, 2021
      • Reply
  • Delicious, and the name is appropriate! My 11 yr old son has already eaten half of this and I only made it a few hours ago 😆 I had oatmeal in the topping because I already had some crumb topping premade in the fridge, and it gave some nice added texture. The cake is so light and fluffy it’s easy to eat way more than a single serving.

    • — JS on July 11, 2021
    • Reply
  • I have made this recipe numerous times for family & friends and it’s delicious every time. I substituted the eggs with a large smashed ripe banana because my daughter has an egg intolerance, and it’s even better! I’ve also made square muffins (reduced baking time to 35 minutes) – it made 16 count – and again they were delicious!

    • — Debbie B on July 7, 2021
    • Reply
  • Does this recipe work in a 9” x 9” x 2.5” square pan or would i have to change the recipe in any way?

    • — Maya on July 5, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Maya, this calls for a 9-inch square pan, so what you have is perfect. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 5, 2021
      • Reply
  • If I want to double the recipe, what size pan should I use? 9×13 equals 117 sq. Inches and 9 inch square = 81??? Am I better off doing 2 nine inch? Thank you

    • — Marcia MacElroy on June 29, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Marcia, If you have two 9-inch pans, I’d go that route. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on June 29, 2021
      • Reply
  • My cake has been in the oven for nearly an hour and the middle is completely raw. It’s in a 9” square glass baking dish. The edges are brown. What do I need to adjust?

    • — Joy on June 19, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Joy, I’m sorry you had a problem with this baking unevenly. Glass conducts heat better than metal so it can cause the edges to brown before the center is done. In those cases, I recommend reducing the oven temperature by 25°F and letting it bake a little longer. That said, it seems really strange that the center was completely raw after almost an hour. Is there any chance you made a measuring error?

      • — Jenn on June 21, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen, can I use my kitchenaid mixer instead of a handheld mixer? I gave away my handheld.

    • — Barbara Riddle on June 18, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure – enjoy!

      • — Jenn on June 21, 2021
      • Reply
  • Can I make this in a square glass baking dish instead of a pan? Only thing square I have 🙂 thanks!

    • — Stephanie on June 13, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure! Just keep an eye on it and reduce the heat by 25°F if it looks like it’s starting to brown around the edges. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on June 14, 2021
      • Reply
  • I measured the flour (128g/cup) to avoid a dry cake and the batter was still incredibly thick. Once you add frozen blueberries it clams up and becomes like cement! This means you need to stir harder to distribute the berries, which also makes your cake a bit gray with the juice but no less tasty. At my house we’re thrilled when anything I bake is edible, but just FYI on using frozen berries if you’re concerned with having it look like the picture.

    • — Emily H. on June 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • Can I half the recipe for a 4×8 loaf pan?

    • — K on June 1, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi K, I haven’t done it, but I think it should work. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on June 3, 2021
      • Reply
      • Baked blueberry coffee cake in a bundt pan. Came out tender. Crumb topping was crunchy. Used very large fresh blueberries and they exploded in the cake. Next time I will use smaller blueberries for a more appealing look. Thank you for sharing your wonderful culinary skills.

        • — Maggie on September 2, 2021
        • Reply
  • Hello! Was wondering if we have to bake it longer if using frozen blueberries cause the batter is cold pre-baking?

    And thank you for this recipe! So glad I found your website. Looking forward to trying others! 🙂

    • — Klarizza on June 1, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Klarizza, I don’t think it should take any longer but feel free to add an extra 2 to 3 minutes if the cake tester doesn’t come out clean after the 40 to 45 minute mark. Hope that helps and that you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on June 1, 2021
      • Reply

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