Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

February 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

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I started writing this post poolside at Palm Springs, sneaking in a quiet 5 minutes between energetic splashing, leisurely outdoor lunches, and a tiny bit of naptime yoga-time. I’m not sure I ever needed a vacation as much, and it delivered the goods. Even while time was slower and life easier, I knew I had a duty to record the pancakes we ate the day we set out on our holiday.

It was a particularly hectic morning, with clothes strewn around the house, and Henry unpacking just as quickly as we got things into the suitcase. Pre-holiday, it seemed completely reasonable to add a relatively complicated breakfast to the mix: that was the pace on which I was stuck. As with many great things, the pancakes were born of necessity and frugality: simply to clear out what was left in our fridge and fill us up good and ready for a day of travel. A half tub of ricotta was the main target, and it found its purpose finishing off the lightest pancake batter I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot of late: Henry and I often have pancakes or waffles to start our day, since he adores perching on a ladder and being official taste tester of the first off the pan. Our favorites of late have been an earthy pear-buckwheat batter and a yoghurt-banana combo. But neither of them come close to the majesty of these lemon zest-flecked ricotta pancakes. This is one of those recipes that requires a painful number of bowls: I do not apologize. They are worth it.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
Adapted from Chow

5 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for coating the frying pan and serving
1 cup (250ml) whole milk
1 1/4 cups (145g) plain/all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. packed finely grated lemon zest (from about 2 to 3 medium lemons)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese

Combine butter and milk in a small saucepan and stir over medium-low heat until the butter has just melted. Set aside to cool slightly.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Place the egg yolks, 1 tbsp. sugar, lemon zest and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Whisk in the milk/butter mixture very gradually to temper the eggs – you want to prevent the warm milk mixture from curdling the eggs. Add a couple of tablespoons to begin, and as you go you can begin to increase the speed at which you add the milk mixture as the two combine.
Add the flour mixture to this and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined. Be careful not to overmix. Set aside.
In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks (the bowl and whisk need to be clean for the egg whites to whip properly). Halfway through whisking, add the remaining 1 tbsp. sugar and 1/2 tsp salt.
Using the rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the reserved batter until just combined.
Gently fold the ricotta into the batter, again being careful not to overmix.
Heat a large non-stick frying pan, or seasoned case iron skilled over medium heat until hot. Lightly coat the pan’s surface with butter then use a 1/4 cup measure to scoop the batter into the pan (if you don’t have a 1/4 cup measure that’s fine – it just helps with sizing and consistency of the pancakes).
Cook until bubbles form on top of the pancakes, about 4-5 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until golden brown, about another 1-2 minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve immediately with fruit and syrup.

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