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 ?.



  • 1¾cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed and drained


  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, softened


Preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease 9” cake pan. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; stir well to blend. Cream sugar and butter; add egg, vanilla extract and milk; stir well to blend. Add flour mixture all at once to creamed sugar mixture. Stir just until all ingredients are moistened. Spread half of batter in prepared cake pan. Spoon blueberries over batter. Spread remaining batter over blueberries. Topping: Combine all ingredients for topping until mixture is mealy. Sprinkle topping evenly over batter. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centre of cake comes out clean. You will have blueberries on the toothpick but be sure there isn’t any cake batter sticking to the toothpick. Serve warm