I wouldn't be the first person to tell you the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, and I'm certain I won't be the last. But I can assure you of this: it's completely true. I've snagged more dates through cinnamon rolls, banana bread and pumpkin pound cake than I care to remember, but it's effective, ladies. While I can't guarantee that the through-the-stomach method will make your love last, it will certainly give it a kick start. So in this present time of singleness (ugh, it's even ugly to type), how could a recipe called Blueberry Boy Bait not catch my eye? I smirked at the irony of it, because we really are using the sweets as bait, aren't we, girls? Who can resist a pretty girl wearing a lavender dress holding a plate of cupcakes? You can't do it, gentleman, you just can't. You're not that strong. Trust me.
As the story goes, this recipe dominated the 1952 Pillsbury Baking Contest when it was submitted by a 15 year old girl who used it to lure her boyfriend into spending time with her. Now, if that was her only means of getting his attention, I'd say little miss had bigger fish to fry and I pray she didn't spend the last fifty something years chasing after him. Nonetheless, I found it charming and sweet, bless her heart. I came across a recipe by the same name in a cookbook I already own, but it was something totally different. It started with a crust of breadcrumbs, milk and sugar, topped with blueberries in a saucy sort of mix then capped with meringue. It didn't sound all that appealing, and certainly nothing like the original recipe for Boy Bait. Then again, this was the same cookbook that sent me into a frenzy over a mishap with chocolate loaf cake so I think it would be best if I just closed it and used it for kindling or for propping up an uneven table leg.
The 1952 recipe borders on coffee cake, sweet enough to call dessert but not quite so tooth-achingly sugary that you can't slide by with a slice next to your morning tea. It's a buttery sponge cake dotted with dark blueberries and blanketed in cinnamon-sugar, a combination I'm sure is enough to not only catch a man, but convince him to stay at least until the cake is gone. Which really could buy you quite a bit of time considering it makes twelve generous servings.
A recent conversation with my sweet friend Emily got my wheels turning on how exactly I ended up where I am in terms of boys and lures and bait and jigs and what not. I'm by no means an expert in the field, but there are some things that never change. So I've compiled a short list of what to bake depending on what sort of man you'd like to play arm candy to:
A Tall, Dark & Handsome: Winning Hearts and Minds Cake
A Man Who Likes to Snuggle: Cinnamon Rolls
A Stealthy, Mysterioso: Fleur de Sel Caramels
A Take Him Home To Mama: Banana Bread with Toasted Walnuts
A Deep Thinking, Philosophical Type: Espresso-Walnut Toffee
A Man Who Makes You Laugh: Strawberry Shortcake with Cream
A Man You Wish to Rid Yourself of ASAP: Raw Egg Sandwich
Blueberry Boy Bait
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
2 cups plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not defrost)
1/4 cup 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 a 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 half of flour mixture until incorporated; beat in half of milk. Beat in remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk. Toss blueberries with remaining one teaspoon flour then gently fold them into the batter. Spread into the pan and get on with making your topping.
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, about 45 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.)
In other news, I splurged on a cherry pitter this week! I soaked up a feeling of immense accomplishment around 10:22 p.m. yesterday evening when I pitted five cups of cherries in under seven minutes. Bliss! I'm thinking cherry preserves...what sort of man eats cherry preserves?