Grown Up Boy Bait

March 20, 2014

in Cook What You Like, Tarts, Pies, Cakes


Renny Powell entered the 1954 Pillsbury $100,000 Recipe and Baking contest with a “coffeecake” style blueberry cake she called Boy Bait.  The 15-year old’s cake took only second place in the youth division in the competition but Renny’s famous cake has maintained first place in post-WWII American baking folklore.

The boys have grown up.  So has the recipe.  Boy Bait includes vegetable oil and vanilla.  Grown Up Boy Bait features butter and limoncello.  This evolution of ingredients still keeps Boy Bait’s moist crumb with inky blueberries and a crunchy topping but Grown Up Boy Bait tastes, well,  grown up.

Fresh or frozen, cultivated or wild, this recipe is adaptable to any kind of blueberries such as the tiny wild blueberries used in the cake pictured above.  You can also opt to substitute the zest of a small lemon and a like quantity of milk for limoncello.

Share the cake with hot coffee or tea, or frosty limoncello, and share it with Someone who could use a little nudging.

Recipe: Grown Up Boy Bait

No limoncello?  Substitute with the finely grated zest of one small well-scrubbed lemon and 3 Tablespoons milk.


  • 1 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 Tablespoons unsalted butter (1 4-ounce stick + 2 Tablespoons), softened
  • 1/2 cup packed light or golden brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3 Tablespoons limoncello
  • 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not defrost if frozen)
  • 1 teaspoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not defrost if frozen)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Prepare a 9-inch square baking pan one of 3 ways: grease with butter and dust with flour; line bottom and sides of pan parchment paper using 2 sheets stacked perpendicular; or line bottom and sides with foil (spray foil with non-stick spray).
  2. Make batter:  in a small bowl, whisk 1 1/3 cups flour, baking powder and salt together; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, with a hand-held mixer on medium-high speed, cream softened butter and the brown and granulated sugars together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition; scrape down bowl sides if necessary. Combine limoncello with milk. Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk mixture to the wet batter, starting with the dry ingredients. You may need to mix by hand as the batter thickens.  Coat 1/2 cup blueberries with 1 teaspoon flour and add to batter, gently folding in with a spatula. Carefully spread batter into prepared pan.
  4. Make topping: mix 1/4 cup granulated sugar and cinnamon together. Evenly distribute 1/2 cup blueberries on top of batter and sprinkle with sugar-cinnamon mixture.
  5. Bake in a preheated 350º F oven:  place cake on the oven’s middle rack and bake until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 40-50 minutes. When done, remove cake from oven and place on wire rack to cool.

Makes a 9-inch square cake.  At the end of the day, wrap well and refrigerated where it’ll keep for a couple of days.



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