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Blueberry pancakes

Blueberries are now in season and the plentiful supply at the greengrocers means that they’re about 1/3 of their usual price as well as being hugely plump and juicy. There are plenty of ways of using them, but for something really decadent it just has to be American pancakes. A thicker batter than their English counterparts, they are quick and easy to make and taste fabulous. Whilst in the pan some of the berries erupt, their purple juice tainting the pancakes; the rest burst in your mouth as you eat them.

Finish with lashings of sweet, sticky maple syrup, serve with some strong coffee and the Sunday papers and you have something I’d gladly get out of bed for.

The recipe is adapted from Momma Cherri’s ‘Soul in a Bowl Cookbook‘. This is the only recipe I’ve ever made from the book – if the rest of the food tastes as good as the pancakes then I definitely need to try more!

Blueberries burst as pancakes cook

Blueberry Pancakes
Makes 6
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Preparation time: 15 minutes

75-100g blueberries, washed (add as many as the batter will hold if you like!)
50g caster sugar
150g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
125ml milk
45g butter, melted
1 egg
olive oil

Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl then stir in the sugar. Slowly add the milk and egg and whisk well until it forms a thick batter. Leave the mixture for at least 5 minutes (the longer the better), then add half the butter and the blueberries.

Dilute the remaining butter with some olive oil (this increases the smoke point) then add a few teaspoonfuls into a large, hot frying pan. Spoon in the batter (to make pancakes of about 8-10cm diameter) and cook them for a few of minutes on each side. You’ll know when the first side is done as there small bubbles will have formed on the surface and then burst. Keep cooked pancakes warm in the oven whilst finishing the off the rest of the batter.

Stack of blueberry pancakes with maple syrup

Serve the pancakes as a stack with a small knob of butter between each one and lots of maple syrup over the top – you’ll want to forego the Sunday roast after this one!

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Table setting at Tallula's Tea Room, Brighton

It’s quarter past eleven on a Sunday morning and our train has just pulled into Brighton station. We’re breaking up our journey back to London having spent the previous evening at a party some miles along the south coast and the guard ushers us through the gate. We leave the station and set off at a brisk pace down Queen’s Road, paying no heed to Trafalgar Street that runs beneath the bridge and is the gateway to the North Laine, with its bustling bohemiam streets crammed full of little cafés, bookshops and trinket treasure troves. We reach North Street where a left turn would bring us into close proximity of the Lanes, a tight maze of tiny streets and tinier walkways lined with jewellery shops, boutiques, quirky independent retailers, restaurants and cafés: instead we turn right. We’re now walking down Western Road towards Hove. Churchill Square, a shopping centre like many other, doesn’t even get a second look and the infamous Brighton Pier edges further and further away. As we walk past the roads that run perpendicular south from Western Road we catch quick glimpses of the almost-midday sun dancing on the surface of the sea. Finally, a right turn takes us into Hampton Place and we’ve reached our destination: Tallula’s Tea Rooms.

When I worked in a Brighton a few years ago a colleague lived on Hampton Place, just a few doors up from Tallula’s. “You have to come and try the pancakes” she once enthused, inviting me to meet her there (a good 25-30 minute walk from where I lived) one Sunday morning and now I say the same to you.

American pancakes and maple syrup at Tallula's Tea Room, Brighton

Tallula’s is a bright and welcoming tea room with a number of tables inside and a further two outside on the pavement, serving breakfast all day, sandwiches, jacket potatoes, Sunday roasts and afternoon tea. There are 20 “teas & herbal infusions” on the menu priced at between £1.80 and £2.75 per person and ranging from a classic English breakfast (organic) to Ceylong Broken Orange Pekoe, Gunpowder, Fukujyu Sencha and Lemon Verdena. Furthermore, there are 11 varieties of coffee that are served in individual cafetières and are priced at between £1.80 for the organic house blend and £3.95 for the Jamaican Blue Mountain.

Alongside a £6.45 full English, breakfast options include a ‘Scottish’ breakfast consisting of Lorne sausage, bacon, eggs, Haggis, black pudding, potato scone, baked beans, mushrooms and toast at £6.95, a vegetarian breakfast at £5.95, eggs Benedict at £6.25 with optional spinach or smoked salmon (+£0.70), oak smoked kipper at £6.25 and, of course, those pancakes!

I opted for three American-style pancakes with maple syrup (£5.95 – the less greedy option is two for £4.95) with a pot of English Breakfast, whilst Rob went for the ‘American’: two pancakes, two rashers of bacon, two fried eggs and maple syrup (£6.95) and a cafetière of the house blend. We were told there would be a wait of about 10 minutes for the pancakes as they had to be freshly made (of course!).

The drinks arrived first; my tea came in a small white teapot with a strainer resting on the cup to catch the leaves (there’s not a teabag in sight here) and a small jug of milk. The tea was brewed to perfection and tasted delightful. Rob’s coffee was strong and full-bodied, perfect for the morning after the night before!

American pancakes, bacon, fried eggs and maple syrup at Tallula's Tea Room, Brighton

When our food arrived, I was slightly taken aback by the size of the pancakes – while many naughty treats seem to shrink over time (hello Mars bar!), I’m pretty sure that Tallula’s pancakes were never quite this generous at 6-7″ in diameter. On the other hand, the maple syrup now arrives in a small dish where previously entire jugs were placed on the table. That said, more maple syrup was quickly forthcoming when requested. The pancakes themselves were thick and light and so terribly-moreish that I couldn’t bear to leave even one last bite despite the fact that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to stand up again. Rob’s ‘American’ was his first experience combining bacon, eggs and maple syrup, but he was pleasantly surprised at how well the flavours complemented each other; however, he did comment on the lack of crispiness of the bacon.

The bill came to a very reasonable £16.55 and we remained nicely full until well into the evening. I’d been meaning to take Rob to Tallula’s for quite some time and was very glad that the standard of food and service hadn’t dropped over the years so that it easily lived up to the expectations I’d been setting.

Tallula’s Tea Rooms
9 Hampton Place
Brighton, BN1 3DA

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