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Blueberry Coffee Cake (aka Boy Bait)

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Blueberry Coffee Cake

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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.

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

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.

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
  • 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)

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

  • 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!

    • — Jennifer on January 25, 2023
    • Reply
  • 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. 🙂

    • — Kelly Bryant on January 18, 2023
    • Reply
  • 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.

    • — Niki on January 14, 2023
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  • very tasty.. just wanted to offer that I made this in a 9×13 pan and still was perfect.

    • — Lynn W on January 5, 2023
    • Reply
  • Amazing thank you for sharing

    • — Carissa on January 3, 2023
    • Reply
  • has anyone had success with swapping raspberries for blueberries? my daughter doesn’t like blueberries 🤦🏻‍♀️

    • — tglow on January 1, 2023
    • Reply
    • 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!

      • — Jenn on January 2, 2023
      • Reply
  • Made this for Christmas morning and it is delicious! Thank you.

    • — Beth Pennington on December 28, 2022
    • Reply
  • 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.

    • — Patsaree on December 25, 2022
    • Reply
  • Probably too late for an answer, but could I prepare this the night before and store in the fridge, then bake in the morning?

    • — MJ on December 24, 2022
    • Reply
    • 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.

      • — Jenn on December 26, 2022
      • Reply
  • I made this recipe and it was absolutely delicious! The cake is moist and the streusel topping adds a pleasant crunch.

    • — Jean on December 18, 2022
    • Reply
  • 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

    • — Bridget on December 17, 2022
    • Reply
    • This is one of my go to recipes. It is always a big hit.

      • — Terrry on December 26, 2022
      • Reply
  • 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.

    • — Robin T. on December 10, 2022
    • Reply
    • It really doesn’t make a difference. Hope you enjoy if you make it!

      • — Jenn on December 12, 2022
      • Reply
  • 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.

    • — Robin T. on December 10, 2022
    • Reply
  • 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!
    Thanks,
    Carol

    • — Carol M on December 4, 2022
    • Reply
    • 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!

      • — Jenn on December 5, 2022
      • Reply
  • 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.

    • — Dianne on November 27, 2022
    • Reply
  • 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
    Still delicious

    • — Joni on October 6, 2022
    • Reply
  • Easy and fabulous, hubby loved it! Not too sweet.

    • — Jenn on October 2, 2022
    • Reply
  • 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.

    • — Joni on October 1, 2022
    • Reply
    • 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!

      • — Jenn on October 3, 2022
      • Reply
  • 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

    • — Jennifer Kovacs on September 16, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Jennifer, I do think it would work, although it may be a bit sweet, as the tart blueberries offset the sweetness.

      • — Jenn on September 17, 2022
      • Reply

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