The day before I first made dinner for Eli, my friend Becky asked me what I was planning to cook. I rattled off the menu, which included dessert of blueberry crumble. The following week, Becky sent me a link to a Smitten Kitchen post on something called blueberry boy bait.
“Is this what you made for Eli?” she asked teasingly. I let the teasing go because I had already been captivated by the name. Blueberry boy bait? Seriously? How could I resist?
If you google blueberry boy bait, you get quite a few hits. There are several versions of the recipe floating around out there. I’m undoubtedly the Nth food blogger to cover it, but for good reason. I began with the recipe on Smitten Kitchen, which was adapted from Cook’s Country, which adapted it from the original. Everyone else’s recipes follow a similar trail, from what I can tell.
I guess I should tell the backstory before I go any farther.
In 1954, a 15-year-old girl won the junior division of Pillsbury’s annual bake-off with this blueberry coffee cake-style dessert, so named, apparently, for the effect it had on boys.
I came home from the farmer’s market the following Saturday with the first of the summer’s blueberries. That same afternoon, I put my first pan of boy bait in the oven. My apartment smelled unbelievable.
It was instant infatuation: soft, moist, buttery cake punctuated by tender berries and topped with a sugary crust boasting just a hint of cinnamon (I had no idea cinnamon complemented blueberries so well). This might be my favorite coffee cake ever. It might be Eli’s, too. He ate half the pan. The other half was my breakfast for a week. Note: I didn’t get tired of it.
As well, the name incites some entertaining conversation. A week or so after I first fell in love with blueberry boy bait, I told my aunt about it at a family picnic. To my horror, she looked at Eli and said, “Well? Does it do what the name claims?”
He didn’t miss a beat.
“It works,” he said, with a grin.
If he ever gets angry at me, I know what to do. I just hope it doesn’t happen when I can’t find blueberries at the market.
Anyway, I’ve made it several times now, adjusting the ingredients and increasing the amount of blueberries exponentially each time. My version is almost more berry than cake, I’m afraid, but we like it that way.
It’s great with vanilla ice cream, as well as warmed up for breakfast.
Blueberry Boy Bait
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease the bottom and sides of a 9″ x 13″ pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together until fluffy:
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
Add three eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Alternately, beat in the dry mixture and 1 cup buttermilk until smooth.
Fold in 2 cups fresh blueberries, and pour into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface evenly with a spatula.
For the topping, toss together 2 cups fresh blueberries, 1/4 cup raw cane sugar, and 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon. Scatter over the top.
Bake 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Bait a boy.