With a name like Buttermilk Berry Boy Bait, you know this recipe is going to be good — and if the name didn’t convince you, maybe the cinnamon sugar crackle topping, fresh berries, and two sticks of butter(!) will. 

Piece of Buttermilk Berry Boy Bait topped with whipped cream and berries, on a stack of 2 plates

As summer winds down, it’s not quite time to start whipping up apple pies and making ALL THE PUMPKIN SPICE recipes, but there’s still a lot of good baking to be had. In my neck of the woods, berries are abundant this time of year, so I wanted to put them to use in a boy bait recipe, something I’ve been meaning to make for quite a while. It’s the kind of easygoing cake that’s a fit for breakfast, a crowd-pleasing dessert, and or pair it with a cup of coffee for an afternoon pick-me-up.

I know what you’re thinking: “So what’s the deal with the name?”

Boy bait is basically the original My-Milkshake-Brings-All-the-Boys-to-the-Yard. It came in second place in the junior division of the 1954 Pillsbury Bake-Off, and the 15-year-old girl who developed the recipe christened it “boy bait” because of the effect it had on neighborhood boys.

Let’s be real, though: you don’t need to have a Y-chromosome to find this Buttermilk Berry Boy Bait completely irresistible. Boy bait is for everyone! Perhaps it should be called people bait! Or human bait! Or maybe not, because those sound really creepy.

Boy bait it is!

What You’ll Need

Boy bait is buttery, studded with fresh berries, and topped with a delectable cinnamon-sugar crackle. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

For the cake:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Buttermilk powder – You’ll only need this if you’re not using fresh buttermilk.
  • Butter – The butter should be softened before you start the recipe, so place it on the countertop about an hour beforehand.
  • Brown sugar
  • Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Water or buttermilk – Buttermilk gives baked goods a tender crumb and balances the sweetness of the berries and sugar.
  • Berries – You’ll need 2 cups, and they can be any combination of berries you like. Fresh is best, but frozen works in a pinch.

For the crackle topping:

  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon
Buttermilk Berry Boy Bait in white baking dish

How to Make Buttermilk Berry Boy Bait

I can’t believe I’ve gotten this far in the post without mentioning how easy it is to make this boy bait recipe. So easy! Kids will love scattering the berries over the top of the batter and sprinkling the cake with cinnamon sugar. 

Prepare. Adjust your oven rack to the middle position and preheat it to 350ºF. Spray a 9×13-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Combine the dry ingredients. Whisk 2 cups of flour, the baking powder, buttermilk powder (if you’re using it), and salt in a large bowl, then set aside.

Make the batter. Add the softened butter and sugars to the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then reduce the mixer speed to low.

Add the dry ingredients and liquid. Add one-third of the flour mixture into the bowl, followed by one-third of the water or buttermilk. Repeat until all of the ingredients are incorporated.

Transfer the batter to the baking dish. Fold half of the berries into the batter, then pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Coat the remaining cup of berries with a tablespoon of flour to keep them from sinking to the bottom of the boy bait. Scatter the berries over the top of the batter; combine the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle this over the entire cake.

Bake. Bake the cake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes, then serve.

Tips for Success

Here’s what you need to know to make the perfect Buttermilk Berry Boy Bait:

  • Butter: Accept no substitutes. If you do some poking around the internet, you’ll find that there are recipes for boy bait that use oil or shortening instead of butter. I strongly recommend sticking with butter — it brings so much flavor to the table and the richness is a nice foil to the fresh berries.
  • Dress it up or down. Eat it as-is, snack cake style. Top it with vanilla yogurt and fruit for breakfast or brunch. Or, even better, serve it warm with a scoop of ice cream and a handful of sun-ripened raspberries for the perfect end-of-summer dessert.
  • Using a hand mixer. If you don’t have a stand mixer, no worries — an electric hand mixer is fine. Just be careful not to over mix the batter, because then your boy bait won’t be tender and light.

Can I Freeze Berry Boy Bait?

Yes, this Buttermilk Berry Boy Bait freezes beautifully! First, make sure it’s cooled completely. If you want to freeze individual portions for whenever you need some emergency cake, cut it into squares, wrap them tightly with plastic wrap, then pop the wrapped squares in a freezer bag. Or, you can freeze the whole cake by wrapping it tightly in a layer of plastic wrap, then in a layer of foil. The cake can be thawed in the refrigerator overnight, or you can warm it in the microwave for those aforementioned cake emergencies.

Buttermilk Berry Boy Bait in white baking dish, with one square removed

How Should I Store This Recipe

Boy bait should be stored at room temperature, either tightly covered or in an airtight container. It will keep for about 2 to 3 days, but it probably won’t last that long! 

Boy Bait Variations

Nearly every boy bait recipe you’ll find is made with blueberries. I decided to put my own spin on it by using a mix of berries, but here are some other variations to try:

  • Skip the cinnamon sugar and use crunchy Demerara sugar as the topping instead.
  • Experiment with other fruits. I’m excited to try this recipe with diced apples this fall, and stone fruits like pitted cherries, apricots, peaches, and plums would work well, too.
  • Add vanilla or almond extract to the batter.
  • Use wild berries like huckleberries or mulberries when they’re in season.
  • If you have a lemon sitting in the fridge, add some zest to the batter for a bright citrus flavor.
  • Put a pinch of cardamom in the topping for some Scandinavian flair.
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Piece of Buttermilk Berry Boy Bait topped with whipped cream and berries, on a stack of 2 plates

Buttermilk Berry Boy Bait

  • Author: Country Cleaver
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45–50 minutes
  • Total Time: 0 hours
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American


Whether you serve it for breakfast, brunch, or dessert, Buttermilk Berry Boy Bait is bound to be a hit!




  • 2 cups + 1 Tbsp All Purpose Flour, divided
  • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • ¼ cup Buttermilk Powder–See Note*
  • 1 cup Butter, softened(2 sticks)
  • ¾ cup Brown Sugar
  • ½ cup Sugar
  • 3 Eggs, large
  • 1 cup Water or Buttermilk–See Note*
  • 2 cups Berries, Fresh or Frozen Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, or Blackberries

Crackle Topping

  • ¼ cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon


  1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a9”x13” pan with non stick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together two cups flour, baking powder, buttermilk powder (if using), and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl as necessary to ensure it is all mixed evenly.Beat in eggs one at a time. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add in one third of the dry flour mixture into the bowl, alternating with one third of the water or buttermilk. Alternate with the remaining wet and dry ingredients
  4. When the mixture is mixed completely, gently mix in one cup of the berries. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the last cup of berries with the remaining 1 Tablespoon of flour. Then sprinkle the remaining berries on top of the batter in the baking dish.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the batter and fruit.
  6. Bake in the oven for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes, or until cook prior to serving.


You can use buttermilk powder instead of fresh buttermilk. If using buttermilk powder, use water as the liquid ingredient.If you are using fresh buttermilk, omit the buttermilk powder from the dry ingredients. If you are using frozen berries, do not let them thaw. Keep them frozen

Keywords: breakfast cake, coffee cake, blackberry cake