Blueberry Boy Bait

by isabelcanosa


It’s hard to know what to pick as your first recipe so I decided to go for my most tried and tested. I have made this simple sheet cake for a gathering to watch the Olympic opening ceremony, a quiet Sunday lunch and because it was Tuesday. Despite the inclusion of blueberries (who’s growing period is from around June – September) the addition of cinnamon (to me a winter spice) and the availability of frozen berries, means this cake works across seasons.

I found this recipe on my most favourite ever ever ever blog;  Smitten Kitchen. This blog, by the nourishment expert extraordinaire; Deb Perelman, is a shining example of what a food blog can be. I have just received her first cook book and I am even more crazy about it than I thought possible (which is saying something as I have been unstably anticipating it for over 2 years). I will continue to wax lyrical about this amazing lady/blog/cookbook so be prepared for more of her creations and a full review of the cookbook to come.

‘My ‘Blueberry Boy Bait’ brings all the boys to the yard’

Let me explain. The story goes that in 1954 a young girl won second prize at a Pillsbury Bake-Off in the US with a version of this recipe which she named ‘Blueberry Boy Bait’ after the effect it had on the on the boys in her area. Smitten Kitchen has taken the updated version (by Cook’s Country) of the original recipe and added to its allure by swapping in buttermilk for whole milk.

Buttermilk is traditionally the liquid left over after cream or butter is churned. Nowadays it is available in the form of “cultured” buttermilk, which is artificially created by introducing a naturally occurring form of lactic acid into pasteurised milk and leaving it to ferment. Buttermilk is tarter and more viscous than whole milk; I can only describe it as a cross between milk and yoghurt, and it lends a lovely tanginess to dishes. Its acid also helps to stop the chemical reaction of blueberries that causes greyish discoloration to batters etc. If you can’t find buttermilk, Smitten Kitchen has a recipe here, to make your own! Ingenious!

Many of my favourite recipes are from American sources and therefore I often list measurements in cups. I would recommend buying some measuring cups as it can make life easier (and you can get them in pound shops), but I have also added metric measurements. I have an electric mixer (my baby) which is a god send when baking. I highly recommend buying one, but if not, you can use a hand held electric whisk on low, or a whisk and a strong arm for a good solid workout.


Serves 12
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250g plus 1 teaspoon plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
230g softened unsalted butter
160g packed light brown sugar
115g caster sugar
3 large eggs
240ml buttermilk
½ cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if using frozen do not defrost before using as the juices will colour the batter)

½ cup blueberries
60g granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 180˚C. Take a 23x33cm (13×9 inch) baking pan, or the equivalent, with sides and grease and flour it.  You may have your own technique for this but mine is to add a small pat of butter to a piece of kitchen towel and smear the pan with the butter, covering all the inner surfaces. Generously sprinkle flour over the butter and shake the pan to evenly distribute. Turn the pan upside over the sink and jiggle to remove the access.

Whisk together the 250g of flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl and set aside. Toss half the blueberries with the remaining flour.

Using an electric mixer beat together the butter, caster sugar and light brown sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes on a medium-high speed).  Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just incorporated, scraping down the bowl after each addition.

Reduce speed to medium and beat in the flour mixture and the buttermilk, bit by bit, starting and finishing with the flour (add a third of the flour, then half the buttermilk, then another third of the flour, then the final half of the buttermilk and then the final third of flour).

Remove the bowl from the machine and using a rubber spatula, carefully fold in the flour covered blueberries by hand. Spread batter into prepared pan.

To make the topping, stir together the granulated sugar and cinnamon until mixed. Scatter the remaining blueberries over top of batter and evenly sprinkle the sugar mixture on top of that.


Bake the cake on the middle shelf in the pre-heated oven until a cocktail stick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean which should be 45 to 50 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then turn out onto serving platter of your choice with the topping side up. (I tend to use two platters to do this; place the first over the top of the pan, flip it and then place the other platter over the bottom of the cake and flip it again which will leave it topping side up). Serve warm or at room temperature as it is or (if you’re feeling that way inclined) with a dollop of clotted cream (as I did) to make it more of a dessert. The cake can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, if it last that long!

Original Smitten Kitchen Recipe