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Blueberry Boy Bait (Blueberry Coffee Cake)

Blueberry Boy Bait (Blueberry Coffee Cake)

  • May 13, 2020
  • by

If I hadn’t baked this and didn’t know what it was called, Blueberry “Boy Bait” would be the last name I would associate with it. First of all, it is no looker right out of the oven. Second, it seems hearty at best, a cake only a mother could love.  However, take one bite and you will kind of get why this blueberry coffee cake is a winner. It placed second in the 1954 Pillsbury Recipe and Baking Contest (the precursor to Pillsbury Bake-Off). Renny Powell, a fifteen year-old girl, created this recipe and named it because of its so-called effect on the boys. I’m no teenage boy, but what really won me over after the first bite was how disarmingly delicious it was, despite how little effort it took to make using readily available ingredients.

I made a few changes from the original recipe, including reducing the sugar a tiny bit. Instead of using just milk, I used half milk and half sour cream, which I love using for coffee cakes

Blueberry Boy Bait (Blueberry Coffee Cake)

Frozen BC wild blueberries are phenomenal. This is what I prefer to use when frozen blueberries are called for in a recipe, and our province’s blueberries are top notch. Did you know that BC produces over 90% of the Canada’s blueberries and Canada is the third major global producers of the fruit? I cannot wait for blueberry season. [No, this is absolutely not sponsored by BC Blueberries or anyone else.]

Frozen BC Wild Blueberries

Blueberry Boy Bait (Blueberry Coffee Cake)

A blueberry coffee cake recipe based on America's Test Kitchen's version of the Renny Powell's Pillsbury Recipe & Baking Contest recipe from 1954.
Servings: 12 people


Cake Batter

  • 283 grams (or 2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 227 grams (or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 100 grams (1/2 cup minus 1 tbsp) granulated white sugar
  • 130 grams (1/3 cup) light or golden brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup 1% milk (or any milk available)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 135 grams (or 1 cup) frozen wild blueberries (divided—half in batter, half in topping)


  • 1 teaspoon unbleached all purpose flour
  • 35 grams (or 1/8 cup) granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


For the Cake Batter

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F with the rack placed in the middle.
    Grease and flour a 9x13x2" baking pan; or use a piece of parchment paper to line it.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl for mixing with a hand mixer, cream together the butter, granulated white sugar and light brown sugar on medium-high speed until fluffly, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl halfway through with a spatula.
  • While the mixer is running, add the eggs one at a time until each one is incorporated. Decrease the speed and add half the flour until incorporated, then add the next half. Mix and increase the speed to medium for a minute.
  • In a separate small bowl, whisk the milk, sour cream and vanilla extract. Add this into the mixer bowl over medium speed and mix until combined. Use a spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix to finish.
  • Toss half of the frozen blueberries with 1 teaspoon flour and carefully fold into the batter. Use a light hand and few strokes to prevent the berries from bleeding too much and turning your cake green.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and spread the top evenly. Scatter the remaining frozen blueberries over the cake batter.
  • For the Topping: Stir the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle over the batter with blueberries on top.
  • Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, rotating the pan 180° halfway through. The cake is done when a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. The top will be golden brown. Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes before serving.


This cake will keep for up to 3 days at room temperature; less during the warmer months.


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