Jan 25, 2010

Blueberry Boy Bait

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I am at a bit of a parenting crossroads with Little C. We’ve reached that point where she is clearly no longer a baby, but she’s not yet a full-fledged little girl (wasn’t there a Britney song about this?). She is so tuned in to everything I do, wanting to get in on all the action and has started mimicking me in the most unexpected ways. Basically this means that I have got to stop dropping F-bombs. Also, she has started “helping me” when I bake. And recently I pulled up a chair to boost her sweet little face up to counter level while I put together some Blueberry Boy Bait, a recipe so simple, you can pull it together with a tiny person clinging to your sleeve.

This buttery, tender cake, studded with teeny blueberries and covered with a shattery cinnamon-sugar crust, is my kind of thing. Technically, it is a cake, but since it’s like the most awesome blueberry muffin you’ve ever had in slab form, it’s more quick bread in feeling. And this means you can brunch it, snack it, or dessert it, and in all cases you’ll love it.

Now before you get all up in my grill about making a blueberry recipe in January, let me tell you that this recipe actually calls for frozen berries. Hooray! I love frozen berries of all sorts. This is not to say that anything can replace the experience of a flat of strawberries in July–let’s not be crazy. But frozen berries are fabulous because they’re picked and frozen at their peak, and are awesomely consistent in quality. Plus, you can’t beat the price. Not that I know a dang thing about economy. But I do know that I am in pink-puffy-heart LOVE with Wyman’s of Maine frozen wild blueberries. They explode in your mouth like sweet, bitty berry caviar and I covet them. And apparently I am not the only one, as per my sous chef.

And because I am a food history geek and love tidbits of culinary trivia, Blueberry Boy Bait first made an appearance in the junior division of a Pillsbury baking contest in 1954. The girl who invented it was only 15! Can you imagine being that young and fabulous and being able to BAKE? Girlfriend probably didn’t need to come up with a specific cake to lure the boys in, I’m sure. Like I plan on telling Little C, she just has to be her fantastic, talented self and the boys will all be beating down our door to date her. Too bad her father won’t be answering said door until she is 25.

Blueberry Boy Bait
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Be sure to look for wild blueberries, the tiny ones, not the bigger regular ones–you’ll get better results with wild. I halved this recipe in an 8-inch square pan and it worked out perfectly. As you’re sprinkling on the cinnamon and sugar you may think to yourself, “Dang! This is way too much cinnamon and sugar!”, but press on and sprinkle on the whole lot of it. You will be rewarded with a crackly, shattering sheet of cinnamon-sugar topping in the end.

Makes 1 9×13-inch cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 cup frozen wild blueberries
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray and line it with a sheet of parchment paper with a few inches of overhang on two sides. Spray the parchment, too.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar and all the brown sugar on medium speed until lightened in color and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape downt he bottom and sides of the bowl. Beat in the eggs one at a time, letting each one incorporate fully before adding the next.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half the flour, mixing just until the flour begins to disappear. Add the milk, mixing to incorporate. Add the rest of the flour and mix until there are a few streaks of flour left in the batter. Fold in the rest by hand with a large rubber spatula until the batter is smooth.

Remove the blueberries from the freezer and divide in half. Place half the berries in a small bowl and toss with 1/ 2 teaspoon flour. Mix the floured berries into the batter and spread the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the rest of the berries on top of the batter. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over the batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Remove the cake from the pan using the parchment sleeve and cut into squares. Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

  • Baby bait is right! My little one can't get enough blueberries…she'd love to "help" make this. That is such an adorable picture!

  • How adorable is your little C!!

    So the sugar and cinnamon sprinkled lend some crispiness to the top? That's what is appealing to me the most 😀

  • Mishti–Yes, that's exactly right. It's the greatest little textural and flavor element that really makes this cake special.

  • Shauna she is SO cute. This again sounds just like me! I pull the stool up so Gabrielle can "help" by pouring the prefilled measuring cups into the bowl. She is a huge blueberry fan too. Wonder if I could alter this for dairy, egg and wheat free. LOL!

  • How crazy is it that you're posting this recipe when I've had my boys beating down the oven door for blueberry goodness for two weeks? I made blueberry crumb bars, then blueberry pancakes – and now I'll be making this! Thanks!

    Oh, and Little C is just so dang CUTE! I don't think my kids were ever that young and adorable… 😉

  • Okay, how many Shaunas read POC? Because it's starting to look like I comment on all my own posts. Ha!

    So I have to know, other Shaunas, did you have as much heartache over never being able to find your name on those racks of personalized barrettes/license plates/key chains as I did?

  • looks wonderful…and your daughter is precious!

  • Oh my goodness! Made this tonight and it's WONDERFUL! Easy, too.
    Family enjoyed it warm from the pan with milk. YUM! Thanks for sharing.

    and yes, Shauna is as cute as a button.

  • You are all over the fruit, aren't you ;)???
    This really look amazing and considering that I spent like $6 last week on 1 cup of blueberries that ended up tasting like soap I am with you all the way on the frozen gems! This looks awesome!

  • yes I did! I found one once in San Diego when I was 20 and I bought it because it was the only time I ever found my name, much less spelled correctly (which as we know is the ONLY proper way to spell it right) The really crazy thing is I thought NOBODY had my name growing up, and nobody spelled it right…now look. Just goes to show that cooking people are awesome 🙂

  • Hey Shauna,
    I am a first time reader and love your blog and can't wait to try some of the recipes. My name is not Shauna, it's Kristine but I share your pain. I never found my name on those racks either.

  • Hi Kristine, welcome! Both to the blog and also to our little club of uncommon and unconventionally spelled names.

  • Yummy!!!!!!!!
    So cute that little princess!!!

  • This is a gorgeous site. I am not the greatest at baking, sometimes I think I tend to overmix the batter because my cupcakes rise too hard and then begin to crack at the surface. Am I right in thinking that this is happenning because of overmixing? And when do I know that the batter's mixed right enough?

    🙁 – A new baker

  • New Baker–Hi and welcome! My first thought is your oven temperature. Do you have an oven thermometer to ensure you're baking at the right temperature? If your oven is running hotter than the dial is telling you, then that can cause funky rising and cracking and weird textures. You can get an oven thermometer for about five bucks. I keep one in my oven at all times.

    As for the overmixing issue, if it's a recipe that starts with creaming the butter and sugar and then all the dry ingredients go in at once or they are alternated with the wet ingredients, then I mix on low speed just until the flour has disappeared into the batter. Sometimes I even stop the mixer when it's halfway blended and fold the rest of the way by hand just to be sure. I like two-stage cake recipes because they are more foolproof–the butter and dry ingredients get mixed together first before adding the wets–the fat coats the flour and prevents gluten from forming even if you happen to overmix a bit.

    If you really want to geek out with an awesome book about the science of baking, I totally recommend Shirley Corriher's Bakewise. It's the best!

  • @Shauna (the POC one!): I finally got a chance to make this today, and it is deLISH! Totally fabulous – thanks! 🙂

    To answer your question, I still to this day look at every name keychain/mug/license plate display hoping to find my name. I've only found it twice, once at one of those "what does your name mean?" kiosks at a mall in Arizona and at Epcot Center. Apparently it means "God is Gracious" in Olde English, but maybe all of the Shauna's who read your blog should create a movement to change that to "Foodie Extraordinaire"? 😉

  • What a beautiful site! Do you have a good black forest cake recipe with fresh cherries somewhere tucked into the archives?

  • Welcome! And thank you. 🙂 You know, I really should have a recipe like that around here because my husband loves the chocolate/cherry combo and a good black forest cake would probably get me out of a few jams, but I don't. 🙂 My two favorite chocolate cake recipes ARE in the recipe index, however–The Big, Messy Chocolate Birthday Cake and One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes (complete with old school POC photos, before I really worked on them, ha!). Enjoy!

  • For all the Shauna's:

    A friend of mine sent this to me and I thought you would all get a laugh out of this:


  • Can this we done with fresh, chopped strawberries or pitted cherries?

  • she is SO cute! how old is she?

  • Shauna –

    What happens with this recipe if you substitute 2% or skim for the whole milk? Have you made it with buttermilk before?


  • Frozen berries are the BEST! I love the look of these, maybe they could curb my continuous blueberry muffin craving…

    Can’t wait to convert the recipe to metric and give it a whirl 🙂

    Thanks for sharing

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