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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 ?.Boy holding a piece of blueberry coffee cake that is missing a bite.

What You’ll Need To Make Blueberry Coffee Cake

Cake ingredients including lemon, vanilla, and flour.

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.

Bowl of unmixed dry ingredients.

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

Pieces of butter in a bowl of dry ingredients.

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

Bowl of crumbly butter mixture.

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

Whisk in a bowl of dry ingredients.

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

Beaten butter and sugar in a bowl.

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

Egg in a bowl with a butter and sugar mixture.

Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.

Vanilla extract and lemon zest in a bowl with an egg mixture.

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

Milk, dry ingredients, and an egg mixture in a bowl.

The batter will be quite thick.

Coffee cake batter in a bowl.

Add the berries to the batter.

Blueberries in a bowl with coffee cake batter.

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

Bowl of blueberry coffee cake batter.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly.

Knife spreading coffee cake batter into a baking pan.

Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the batter.

Coffee cake batter topped with streusel topping.

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

Blueberry coffee cake in a baking pan.

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

Pieces of blueberry coffee cake on a plate.

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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

  • Hi Jenn,

    Love your recipes. I only have dark brown sugar on hand. Would that be okay for the streusel?

    Thanks!

    • — Anonymous on May 13, 2024
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes! Yes, dark brown sugar will work for the streusel. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 13, 2024
      • Reply
      • Thanks!

        • — Dani on May 15, 2024
        • Reply
  • Where’s the coffee in the recipe?

    • — Ali on May 10, 2024
    • Reply
    • 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!

      • — Jenn on May 13, 2024
      • Reply
  • Would it be possible to make this as muffins? How would I adjust the cooking time?

    • — Kathleen on May 9, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Kathleen, These would work as muffins but I have a recipe specifically for blueberry muffins if you’d like to check that out. Hope you enjoy whatever you choose to make!

      • — Jenn on May 9, 2024
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! This is a delicious recipe – any chance I can substitute frozen sweet cherries for the blueberries???
    Thanks!

    • — Mary on May 7, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Mary, cherries should work here. If they’re large, I may cut them in half. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on May 8, 2024
      • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious!
    I am a great cook but a novice baker. We picked lots of blueberries at the U pick farm so I thought I would give it a try. My only error was not softening the butter enough at first, but it worked out. Also I used oatmilk. So good!

    • — Janice on May 4, 2024
    • Reply
  • Very delicious. It’s moist and fluffy, not dense at all.

    • — Jules on May 3, 2024
    • Reply
  • I didnt have a mixer, packed away so used hand. This 1/2 c of milk seems way to low? I had to use at least 3/4 c. Followed all measurements correctly.

    • — sue on April 28, 2024
    • Reply
  • This turned out wonderful! I was out of fresh lemons so used about 1/4th tsp of lemon extract and got the lemony flavour just fine. I also used only 1/2 a cup of sugar as the friends I was baking this for don’t like their desserts very sweet. It still was a nicely sweetened and flavourful coffee cake! Thank you!

    • — Ruchi Brahmachari on April 18, 2024
    • Reply
  • Can you make the batter ahead of time? I hope to make the batter and just have it in the fridge for two days before baking

    • — terry on April 13, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Terry, Unfortunately, it won’t work to refrigerate the batter as the cake won’t rise well when you go to bake it. If you’d like, 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 April 15, 2024
      • Reply
  • My kid is gluten intolerant…….Can I use a 1:1 Gluten Free Flour?

    • — Cynthia on April 7, 2024
    • Reply
    • Sure, Cynthia, that should be fine. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 8, 2024
      • Reply
  • This is my all time favourite recipe. I’ve made it multiple times. But I’m known for trying to change things up. I’m curious if this could be made with a blueberry compote? Any tips on that?

    • — Judy on March 30, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Judy, I’m so flattered that this is your favorite cake! Unfortunately I wouldn’t recommend the compote though – I’m concerned that it would make the cake too wet (and possibly too sweet) – sorry!

      • — Jenn on April 3, 2024
      • Reply
  • I made this coffee cake this afternoon and it did take 55 minutes to bake, but worth it. I used fresh blueberries and I baked it in a glass pan. It turned out very tasty and moist. I’d recommend this recipe as it is a very good coffee cake especially with a fresh brewed cup of European coffee.

    • — RockinRic on March 30, 2024
    • Reply
  • I like this recipe a lot. My first time, I substituted 1 cup of Greek yogurt for the eggs due to a guest’s egg allergy, and I have stuck with yogurt since then. Moist and not too sweet.

    • — Mary on March 13, 2024
    • Reply
  • After purchasing a home on a legacy blueberry farm five years ago, this has been my hands down go-to blueberry recipe. The great name makes it easy to search for. My only change is that I microwave frozen blueberries to room temperature before adding to the batter. Otherwise it takes an hour and 45 minutes to bake. Otherwise, it’s so light and fluffy. It works well as regular sized or mini muffins, too.

    • — Kirby on March 10, 2024
    • Reply
  • A lot of positive reviews, but we found it to be just OK, not good. I have eaten good ones before, but this is on the bland side. To each their own.

    • — TLR on March 9, 2024
    • Reply
  • My dad enjoys his coffee cake and he said that this is the best coffee cake he had ever had!
    I used wild blueberries and doubled up on the streusel topping. It was delicious!

    You have so many delicious recipes. Thank you for sharing your creations!

    • — Shannon on February 26, 2024
    • Reply
  • This coffee cake is PERFECT! The topping is crunchy and doesn’t fall all over the place when eating. The cake is light and not overly sweet, which compliments the streusel (and your cup of coffee). I made this without the blueberries and lemon zest. Baked it in a METAL pan (per comments) for exactly 45 minutes.

    • — Kelly on February 19, 2024
    • Reply
  • This is very good but takes much longer to bake. Still waiting after 55 minutes.

    • — Linda on January 23, 2024
    • Reply
  • I seem to have every pan except a 9 inch square metal one. Can I use a 9×3 inch springform or am I better off using a 9×2 inch round? Thanks!

    • — Kathy on January 12, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Kathy, a 9-inch springform pan will work nicely. The bake time may be slightly different, so just keep a close eye on it. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 15, 2024
      • Reply
  • Can I substitute oil, specifically extra light olive oil, for the butter in this recipe?

    • — Gay Lee Freedman on January 11, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Gay, Unfortunately, that won’t work as you need something solid to cream the sugar. Sorry!

      • — Jenn on January 11, 2024
      • Reply
  • I wish I could add pictures, unfortunately I have still not joined the instragram world. But this recipe is perfect the way it is written, be diligent with the instructions and it turns out exactly like the pictures. Definitely use the 9×9 metal pan. I used the same unsalted butter in the recipe to grease it, put the timer on for 40 and in my oven it was done, but a good time to check if you set it to 45. Amateur baker so my husband is the quintessential “bait boy” and it rings true to the name. Thank you!!

    • — Claire Gamache on December 31, 2023
    • Reply
  • Excellent recipe. I have made it several times with blueberries & then tried it with apple chunks from 3 large apples. I added some fresh grated ginger to the apple cake. Also, because I like streusel in the middle I put 1/2 of the batter & then sprinkled 1/2 of the crumb topping then the rest of the batter & topping.

    • — Grace G on October 25, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi, I made this and loved the cake part. I’ll probably try a different streusel topping recipe next time though. Not sure why I didn’t care for this one. I’ll also bump up the lemon flavor because I wasn’t tasting very much. I might try rubbing extra lemon zest into my sugar before I cream it with the butter. I also made this in a 9×13 because I have a crowd to feed and I did 1.5 of the recipe instead of doubling it. All in all, it was a delicious blueberry cake that I’ll be making again! Thanks for the recipe!

    • — Heather on October 24, 2023
    • Reply
  • An absolutely incredible recipe. I’ve been searching for a blueberry coffee cake for years that doesn’t take all morning to make, isn’t soggy, and is reliable. This is not only straightforward to make, it is delicious, has the perfect texture and ratio of streusel/cake/berries.

    • — Geneva Lewis on October 1, 2023
    • Reply
  • I made this recipe with gluten free flour. It was delicious, fluffy, and moist.
    Michelle

    • — Michelle on September 24, 2023
    • Reply
  • Can you use gluten free flour 1:1? The original recipe is awesome but wanted to share it with my gluten free friends.

    • — Bridget on September 21, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Bridget, I haven’t made a gluten-free version of this, but a few readers have commented that they have successfully. Hope you and your friends enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 22, 2023
      • Reply
  • Another great recipe, loved by all. However, I have had trouble getting the center to firm up the two times I made it. The rest of the cake gets overdone before the center is done. I made it exactly as instructed and know how to bake. Used a 9″ x 9″ glass pan. I may try it in a bunt pan as suggested by one of the other comments. Perhaps the glass pan is the issue.

    • — CB on September 6, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi CB – Yes, the issue is very likely the glass pan. I would use a metal pan if you have one; if not, try reducing the heat by 25°F and bake it a bit longer.

      • — Jenn on September 7, 2023
      • Reply
      • I made it yesterday in a glass pan. The middle wasn’t cooking. Easy recipe but mine was too dry to serve. I also have gas propane oven. Not sure middle rack is good for baking anything. I was looking forward to trying one of Jenn’s recipes…Simple easy to follow recipe but I need to keep trying! Thanks Jenn

        • — Camille on December 17, 2023
        • Reply
        • Sorry you had a problem with this! You may have better luck with a metal pan.

          • — Jenn on December 19, 2023
          • Reply
  • I made this recipe for company. I have made many of Jen’s recipes in the past and I am always happy with how they come out. So much so that I have no issue with making a new recipe of hers for company. This recipe was delicious. I did make it the day before and I put parchment over it and then tin foil. It was absolutely delicious and moist and the perfect denseness for a coffee cake. The blueberries were the perfect complement. Everyone enjoyed this and all said how good this was.

    • — Annmarie on August 26, 2023
    • Reply

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