Years ago there were two wonderful restaurants here in the Santa Barbara, CA area called The Bakery and Tutti’s. The owner of these restaurants used the location of The Bakery as his own bakery to make an impressive variety of yeasted breads, quick breads, muffins, croissants, puff pastry goodies, cakes etc. These items were served at both locations. The restaurants specialized in breakfast and lunch but served dinner for a limited time as well. The location of the Bakery was the best part. The restaurant had a patio, which was right across the street from the Santa Barbara County courthouse, and it’s sunken gardens. Due to the outrageous real estate prices in Santa Barbara, both restaurants eventually closed. The owner moved Tutti’s to downtown Ventura, CA. He still maintains a small venue called Tuttini here. Tuttini functions as the bakery for Tutti’s and serves a pared down version of Tutti’s menu. Tuttini is extremely small. The kitchen is large but seating is limited. We rarely visit either restaurant anymore. Tutti’s is too far away. Tuttini is too cramped for us to feel comfortable and a lot of our favorite breakfast items are gone.
So why go on and on about a wonderful restaurant experience in the distant past? My boyfriend was addicted to their blueberry cornmeal pancakes. Every time we went out to eat at the Bakery or Tutti’s, he would order them. The blueberry corncakes were the reason to get up in the morning and go out to eat. Once we stopped eating breakfast out, I knew I would need to be able to make something worthy of the memory of those blueberry corn cakes. I tried many different recipes trying to find something that would be a reasonable replacement that I could whip up at home. I finally stumbled onto this recipe for cornmeal and currant griddlecakes with apple-cinnamon syrup from the January 2000 issue of Gourmet Magazine. I adapted the recipe to my style of cooking. The syrup was too fussy to make, I prefer real maple syrup on corn cakes. As usual, I would rather see whole wheat flour, olive oil, and honey instead of the white flour, butter, and sugar in the original pancakes. True to the spirit of the original recipe, we enjoy these as currant corn cakes most of the year but when blueberries are available locally at the peak of the summer season, we make a nod to Tutti’s instead.
Blueberry Corn Cakes
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
½ cup yellow corn meal
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
dash of salt
1 ¼ cups nonfat plain yogurt
2 large eggs
2 tbsp honey
¼ cup olive oil
1 pint fresh blueberries, rinsed and stems removed if you find them
about a tablespoon of butter for cooking
Serving options: nonfat plain yogurt, fresh blueberries and real maple syrup.
In a large bowl, combine whole-wheat pastry flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, scramble the eggs and then mix in yogurt, honey and olive oil. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
Preheat an electric grill to 325 degrees F. (Alternatively, heat a skillet to medium). Melt a small amount of butter all over the surface of the grill. Ladle batter onto the grill, we usually go for about four inch diameter pancakes. Immediately press five or six (or more) blueberries onto the surface of each pancake, if you have more blueberries use them to top corn cakes later. Cook pancakes for about 3 minutes or until the edges of the pancakes look dry and the bottom is golden. Turn and cook another minute or so. The blueberries should look cooked and you shouldn’t see any wet batter around them. Serve blueberry corn cakes with yogurt, fresh blueberries if you have leftovers and maple syrup.
Note: Yes! You saw me use olive oil in the pancake batter and real butter for cooking. Here’s why: using olive oil in the batter cuts the amount of saturated fat in the original recipe. We use a scant amount of butter, maybe a tablespoon for the whole grill to give the cakes a buttery flavor and crispy edge texture.