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Blueberry Coffee Cake (aka Boy Bait)

5 stars based on 23 votes

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 😉.

Here’s what you’ll need.

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!

 

 

Blueberry Coffee Cake (AKA Blueberry Boy Bait)

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.

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

Reviews & Comments

  • 5 stars

    I’m writing this as I finish my last piece…absolutely the BEST blueberry coffee cake I’ve ever had! Bursting with sweet blueberry goodness with just the right amount of lemon kick. It was meant for breakfast but I caught my husband snacking on it after dinner, hence the reason why it only lasted 2.5 days. I’ll definitely make this again, especially for family brunches.

    - April on September 20, 2017 Reply
  • I would like to make this dairy free, what would you suggest?

    - Joy SLATER on September 18, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Joy, I haven’t tried it with these substitutions, but I think you could substitute margarine and a non-dairy milk here. LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      - Jenn on September 19, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    If you like blueberries this is the best coffee cake I have ever tried.

    - Amanda on September 17, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made the streusel at the end, so it wasn’t refrigerated as required, but still worked out fine. Although we didn’t want to risk the danger of this yummy coffee cake not being as good the next day, we didn’t manage to finish it all and were pleased to discover it was still just as good even two days later! I simply wrapped in twice with plastic wrap. Oh, and don’t leave the lemon zest out! It gives the cake such pizzazz! This is going to be one of my standard blueberry season coffee cakes now!

    - Karen on September 16, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Even with the sugars reduced by 25% this was a great recipe, definitely see the appeal. Pretty easy to put together too, as cakes go.

    - Nuri Kara on September 15, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    The streusel topping with a touch of cinnamon makes all of the difference! I will save this recipe to make again next summer when there is an abundance of fresh blueberries. Actually, we thought it was just as good the next day. I actually like it better than blueberry muffins.

    - Anita on September 14, 2017 Reply
  • Made your blueberry coffee cake,and after asking you if you thought I could sub cherries for the blueberries,I did just that.
    I cut them in half and added them frozen.I also cut down on the butter by using apple sauce.
    The cake came out great.So pleased.

    Thanks,
    Sheila

    - Sheila on September 14, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Yummy!! I used fresh peaches because they were in season & very sweet.

    - Yvonne on September 14, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this yesterday but I used frozen berries as that is what I had on hand. They turned out really well!

    - Jeremy Chase on September 11, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    My “big boys” went for the bait! This recipe is moist and so flavorful. The lemon zest is the kicker! It distinguishes itself as a one of a kind from other recipes. I did not have the 9 by 9 pan so I used a circular pan and cut it into pie slices. This was pretty. DELICIOUS

    - Karen on September 2, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    My baking manta is ten ingredients or less and this fills the bill beautifully.
    What a lovely way to use blueberries in a cake!
    Thanks for the newest recipe to my repertoire …

    - Carol on September 2, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Wow. Just. Wow.

    Definitely a keeper and I am looking forward to trying this recipe with the many suggestions found herein.

    Thank you, Jenn!

    - Nicole on August 30, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this today. It was delicious and simple to make.

    - Linda on August 30, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Fantastic Jen! Everyone loved it!

    - Lynda Kelly on August 26, 2017 Reply
  • Hi Jen could I use lime in place of the lemon. By the way I made the Italian meatloaf with the suggested potatoes followed by the no churn key lime pie ice cream. My family just loved it as did I. Your recipes are just wonderful.

    - Linda Blackbourn on August 25, 2017 Reply
    • Sure, Linda – I think a lime would work. And so happy you’re enjoying all the recipes!

      - Jenn on August 25, 2017 Reply
  • I’m wondering if this can be eaten as a finger food, or does it need a plate and fork? Thanks!

    - Laurie on August 24, 2017 Reply
    • Sure, Laurie – you’ll need napkins to catch crumbs but it can definitely be eaten by hand.

      - Jenn on August 28, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made this recipe and it turned out great. My husband wanted three pieces to take to work.

    Love recipes that work

    - Lee C on August 24, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Yummy!!! I used fresh peaches that are in season here in the Carolinas and added walnuts to the streusel.

    - Yvonne on August 24, 2017 Reply
  • Would buttermilk work here?

    - Lisa on August 23, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Lisa, I’d recommend sticking with regular milk here– sorry!

      - Jenn on August 23, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    As usual, a 5 star recipe from this site! Thank you so much for sharing this! Had a whole bunch of leftover fresh strawberries and blueberries that were very close to spoiling and I used the summer strawberry pie recipe and this blueberry recipe with absolute rave reviews! I think what makes this awesome is the lemon zest so please don’t skip that ingredient! Gives it that extra something and it is incredible!!! you’ve gotta try!

    - Peggy on August 22, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This was fantastic – everyone in my house devoured it. I agree, you can likely use other berries and it will be just as delicious.
    Thank you!
    Katie

    - Katie on August 22, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made this today, but I didn’t have any blueberries. Fortunately, I had just picked huckleberries yesterday and used about 1 cup of those intermountain beauties. It made for a great coffee cake. I love the streusel topping!

    - Boone on August 20, 2017 Reply
    • Could I sub blackberries and if so do I need to alter ratio of wet/dry ingredients due to berry juice?

      - Petra Smith on August 21, 2017 Reply
      • Hi Petra, This cake might be a little tart with all blackberries but I think it’d work without any adjustments — or you might try using a mix of berries.

        - Jenn on August 22, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    My daughter made this and it is amazing!!!
    I loved the story.

    - Jane C. on August 20, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Thanks for another great dessert recipe Jenn. With your help, people are beginning to think that I’m some kind of dessert guru as desserts have been my cooking weak spot. Of course I give the credit to you!

    This is delicious, and I especially like it because I don’t like extremely rich or sweet desserts – and this one is just right!

    - Mike on August 20, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Perfection! One little thing, I used half and half instead of Milk!

    - Kitty Rosania on August 19, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made this for a ladies brunch today and it was a HIT! Now I need to make another batch for my family as they were hoping for leftovers 😉

    - Jules on August 19, 2017 Reply
  • Do you think I could make this in a spring form pan?

    - Amanda on August 19, 2017 Reply
    • Definitely!

      - Jenn on August 22, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Seriously good! I used a cup of full-fat sour cream instead of the milk (because I had some I wanted to use up), and added some walnuts to the streusal (because I love nuts!) Ohhh my…delicious!!

    - Lucinda on August 18, 2017 Reply
    • I bet it’s even better with sour cream than milk….if you’re not counting the calories and fat?

      - Paula on August 22, 2017 Reply
  • Do you think I could use a mix of blueberries and peaches?

    - JJ on August 18, 2017 Reply
    • Definitely!

      - Jenn on August 18, 2017 Reply
  • Love your recipes. Have you froze this coffee cake?

    - Lynne on August 17, 2017 Reply
    • I haven’t, Lynne, but it should freeze well.

      - Jenn on August 17, 2017 Reply
  • This is almost exactly the Blueberry Buckle recipe that I grew up with my mother making!

    - Laura C. on August 17, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    What a cutie! Thanks 4 including the story/the recipe. I tried 2get it once from ATK, but wouldn’t pay 4 it! Love your newsletter.

    - Nancy J. on August 17, 2017 Reply
    • 😊

      - Jenn on August 17, 2017 Reply
  • I’m so glad you posted this recipe! As it happens, I just baked a “Blueberry Boy Bait” cake from a recipe in the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook and it was a soggy mess, calling for two(!) sticks of butter and less blueberries than yours (and they all sunk to the bottom). Your recipe sound so much better and the next time I have extra berries, I’ll absolutely give it a try! Thanks!

    - Joanne on August 17, 2017 Reply
  • I have picked about 20 pounds of local (incredible) blueberries this season. They are so much more flavorful than store bought. But I have to freeze them pretty quick after picking. Can I use those frozen berries and if so will it change the cooking time or anything?

    - Robynn on August 17, 2017 Reply
    • Definitely – just don’t defrost them before adding them to the batter (and no changes necessary). Enjoy!

      - Jenn on August 17, 2017 Reply
  • Hi Jen,
    What are your thoughts about making this with fresh cherries? Or a mix of cherries and blueberries?
    Thanks,
    Ellen

    - Ellen Horton on August 17, 2017 Reply
    • Love both of those ideas, Ellen. Please lmk how it turns out!

      - Jenn on August 17, 2017 Reply
  • I’m excited to try this recipe, but how do you think it would be if I change the flour for whole wheat flour? Love your recipes!:)

    - Caro on August 17, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Caro, I’d start by replacing half of the flour with whole wheat flour and see how you like it, and increase the next time if the cake doesn’t seem too dry or dense.

      - Jenn on August 17, 2017 Reply
  • Coffee cake is 100% boy bait!! Heck, its man bait! I have a boatload of blackberries right now. Do you think they would be too tart?

    - Maria on August 16, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Maria,

      I do think it’d be a little tart with blackberries – maybe use a mix?

      - Jenn on August 16, 2017 Reply
  • Jen,

    Can I add some pecans or walnuts to the strusel? If yes, how much?

    Thanks

    - Janelle on August 16, 2017 Reply
    • Sure, Janelle – I’d add about 3/4 cup chopped nuts. Please let me know how it turns out if you try it that way.

      - Jenn on August 16, 2017 Reply
      • Jen,

        I made this with fresh cherries and added sliced almonds to the streusel and it was delicious. Thanks for another great recipe

        - Janelle on August 20, 2017 Reply

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