A few weeks ago, as I was going on about how much I like just about every color and shade of baked fruit desserts, the goofier the name — be it “grunt”, “slump”, “buckle”, or “betty” — the better, a reader named Shirley asked me if I’d ever tried anything called Blueberry Boy Bait.
And people, seeing as I unabashedly choose magazines for their covers and fawn over the titles of books (“I Was Told There’d Be Cake,” anyone?) that I have no interest in reading, let’s just say that although I had no idea what Blueberry Boy Bait was, I knew it would be made, in my kitchen, sooner than soon. [Well, actually I’d bookmarked it for August, when I believed blueberries to be in season, only to find them at my local greenmarket four days later where I proceeded to plotz from happiness. Bring on the boy-baiting!]
I mean, seriously, Boy Bait could have been blueberry gravy for meatloaf, garlic-pickled blueberries for a potato salad or any other unforutnate-sounding blueberry concoctions (though I now suspect it’s just a matter of time before someone emails me a blueberry gravy or pickled blueberry recipe; go on, bring it on, I guess I asked for it) and I probably would have still made it because: boy plus bait. If nothing else, the story would have had a great title.
Fortunately for all of us, but I’d say mostly Alex, me and the friends I fob my baked goods off on, Blueberry Boy Bait is delicious, a buttery, rich single-layer cake studded with fresh blueberries and swaddled in a sheet of cinnamon sugar. In fact, if you’ve been hanging around here for a couple months, you might even note its resemblance to a certain Raspberry Buttermilk Cake so let me be quick to point out what makes it noticeably different: It’s the butter. There’s a lot more of it. I’d dare say there’s so much more that cake is almost more buttery than it needs to be but I know that would be just impossible. Implausible. Or at least that’s what the boy in my house said before he reached for a second piece. Thus, I guess it worked.
Blueberry Boy Bait
Adapted from Cook’s Country, which adapted it from the original
Like any recipe with a great name, this also has a great story, which was that in 1954, a 15-year-old girl stole the show (but only won second prize) in the junior division of an early Pillbury Bake-Off with a variation of this recipe, named, she said, after the effect it had on boys.
Cook’s Country magazine dusted this recipe off from the Pillsbury Bake-Off Dessert Cookbook and made a few tweaks to bring it more deliciously into the modern age: butter was swapped for shortening, the quantity of blueberries was doubled and some plain sugar was replaced with brown sugar. The result? Let’s just say you don’t need to be a boy to be lured in.
Serves 12, generously
2 cups (250 grams) plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks, 8 ounces or 225 grams), softened
3/4 cup (145 grams) packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup (235 ml) whole milk (though buttermilk, which was all I had on hand, worked just great)
1/2 cup (about 85 grams) blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not defrost first as it tends to muddle in the batter)
1/2 cup (about 85 grams) blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not defrost)
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
Whisk two cups flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. With electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated and scraping down bowl. Reduce speed to medium and beat in one-third of flour mixture until incorporated; beat in half of milk. Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally remaining flour mixture. Toss blueberries with remaining one teaspoon flour. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries. Spread batter into prepared pan.
For the topping:
Scatter blueberries over top of batter. Stir sugar and cinnamon together in small bowl and sprinkle over batter. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out and place on serving platter (topping side up). Serve warm or at room temperature. (Cake can be stored in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.)