Blueberry Coffee Cake (aka Boy Bait)

Tested & Perfected Recipes
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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Reviews & Comments

  • Could I use almond flour for a gluten free option? If so, how much would you recommend using? Thank you for the fantastic recipe.

    • — Megan on February 25, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Megan, I wouldn’t recommend almond flour here as I think it will significantly impact the texture of the cake. If you need a gluten-free alternative, I’d recommend an all-purpose gluten-free flour like this one. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on February 25, 2021
      • Reply
      • Hello, excited to try this recipe. But I have a few questions. First of all. I only have 8 inch square pans and 2nd. Can this recipe be doubled for a 13x 9 baking pan? Thanks in advance.

        • — LuAnn on February 28, 2021
        • Reply
        • Hi LuAnn, I do think you could make this in an 8-inch square pan or it can be doubled and baked in a 13 x 9“ baking dish. The baking time may be a bit different with either of these, so keep a close eye on it. Hope that helps and that you enjoy!

          • — Jenn on March 1, 2021
          • Reply
  • Amazing!
    Small tip I learned from Smitten Kitchen: rub the lemon zest with the sugar in the recipe, smells amazing plus releases the flavor/oils of the lemon.

    • — IndianBaker on February 21, 2021
    • Reply
  • Amazing recipe! just made for breakfast this morning. I will give it 10 stars if there was an option. Thank you for another great recipe.

    • — Johanny on February 20, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made this today and brought a warm piece up to my husband’s office (working from home since March) and it was just what we both needed on a cold snowy afternoon! I did add 1/2 cup chopped pecans to the streusel just because we love nuts! Really delicious!

    • — Lisa on February 19, 2021
    • Reply
  • Help! I have tried this recipe twice- using frozen huckleberries instead of blueberries….I keep checking and its FAR from baked. The top is over done and the toothpick/butterknife comes out covered in batter…….Help!

    • — Shelley on February 17, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Shelley, sorry that you’ve had a problem with this (twice)! I’ve never worked with huckleberries so I don’t know if they may have an impact. Is it baking on the center rack in your oven? Also, are you using a 9-inch square pan? And if you find that the top is baked and the inside needs more time, you can always loosely cover it with a piece of foil to let the center cook through. Please LMK if I can help in any other way.

      • — Jenn on February 18, 2021
      • Reply
  • TURNED THIS RECIPE INTO MUFFINS… YUM!!!

    Doubled the recipe (except for the sugar and streusel topping), used whole grain spelt, added a cup of sour cream, and baked as muffins- 400-degrees F for 20 minutes (added a bit more flour for altitude and the whole grain). Made a generous 3 dozen (could be 3 dozen + 1). SOOOO good- moist, fluffy, wonderful crumb… still a bit on the sweet side but very delicious.

    • — Aimee on February 16, 2021
    • Reply
  • LOVED IT! I took this on a family trip, through 2 rides in a cooler and a couple days, and it was just as good the last day as the first. I’m going to make muffins from this recipe next time. Yummy!

    • — Susan Miller on February 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • So freaking yummy!! Even my hard to please hubby loves it! I made this the other night, used a 9×13 so I doubled the recipe and I used buttermilk instead of milk (so I only used 2TBS baking powder and added 1/2 tsp Baking soda) it is si delicious! I also made a Lemon drizzle (just powdered sugar, lemon juice and some zest) topped it off perfectly!

    • — Gina on February 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • Moist, delicious, and perfect sweetness. I did not make any changes other than using an 8-inch square pan since I don’t have a 9-inch. The cake was a bit too tall, took a bit longer but still great. Definitely will make again.

    • — Regina on February 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • I’ve made this twice now and it is perfect each time. Wonderful recipe! The first time I made it a few days ahead of a family brunch and froze it. I took it (still frozen) to the family event and thawed it out on the counter the night before we ate it. The second time we ate it within hours of it coming out of the oven. Thanks so much for a great recipe!

    • — Corrie S. on February 1, 2021
    • Reply
  • I’ve had good results with your other recipes but unfortunately this one was a flop for me. The cake was very bland and took close to an hour to bake. If I try this again, I would add 1/4 cup of maple syrup, use 3/4 cup of milk in addition to doubling streusel then using 1/2 between layers of batter, and add more lemon zest.

    • — Cianna on January 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious. This was a hit with my coworkers.

    • — Patricia on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe is perfect! I make it all summer long for company. Simply delicious!

    • — Victoria Arduini on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • Love this recipe! Can you double it and bake in a 9×13 pan?

    • — Christine C on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
    • Glad you like it! Yes, you could double this and use a 9 x 13. Baking time may be slightly different so just keep a close eye on it. 🙂

      • — Jenn on January 29, 2021
      • Reply
      • How much baking powder? One person wrote she put in 2 tablespoons? Plus 1/2 tsp of baking soda. Isn’t that a bit much?

        • — LuAnn on February 28, 2021
        • Reply
        • Hi LuAnn, If doubling the recipe, I would use 4 teaspoons baking powder. There is no baking soda in the recipe.

          • — Jenn on March 1, 2021
          • Reply
  • Absolutely the best! You can’t go wrong with this recipe!

    • — Chris on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is the first recipe I tried off this site and one of my favorites. The texture of the topping is perfect and the lemon zest perfectly complements the blueberries.

    • — Sol on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Went through a coffee cake making phase and this blueberry one was exactly what I was looking for. It was so good and moist, and I loved the topping. Have made multiple times and it gets eaten up so fast.

    • — Yvonne on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is possibly the best morning treat on earth. I brought it in to my office, where everyone said things like, “oh, I’ll just try a small piece,” and in a matter of a morning, the cake was reduced to only a few crumbs. Safe to say that it hit the spot. Coffee, tea, milk… be sure you have whatever is your favorite close at hand because you’ll find yourself in a happy trance of yumminess at the first bite.

    • — Lynn S on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
    • Absolutely the best! You can’t go wrong with this recipe!

      • — Chris on January 28, 2021
      • Reply
  • i made this last weekend and it was as delicious as i had hoped it would be! i didn’t have a 9×9 pan so i used an 8×8 pan. it required about 15 minutes more cook time and it made the cake really tall so i had to eat it with a fork instead of my hands. next time i will probably use a 9″ round.

    the lemon zest in here really helped the cake sing. i used a bit more than the recipe called for and really liked it.

    will definitely make this again!

    • — Tera Killip on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this for a potluck last week and it’s amazing! So moist and LOTS of blueberry flavor. (I used frozen wild blueberries.) Thank you for your generosity and your published recipes. I make them as directed and we haven’t been disappointed.

    • — Dawn Jennings on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I have made this 3 times now and it was delicious every time. It does take a little longer in my oven, more like 55 minutes before a tester has a dry crumb. Thanks for the great recipe.

    • — Anne L. on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I craved this cake for MONTHS before I finally tried it. When I did, I made personal-sized cakes for my parents and in-laws and they couldn’t stop raving. I’m afraid I didn’t quite leave enough for my husband, though. #toogood

    • — Hanna Landman on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this for my family this week and everyone agrees it’s 100% amazing! Perfect amount of blueberries! I had to use frozen blueberries, but they worked just fine.

    • — Jodi on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made it last week for my book club discussion, it was easy to make, delicious not very sweet, and the combination of blueberry and cinnamon is marriage made in heaven, I’ll make it again and again

    • — Khaula on January 28, 2021
    • Reply

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