Table for One

A Perfectly Portioned Pancake Recipe for One

For when it's just you, yourself, and the Sunday crossword.

by:
July 26, 2019
Photo by Bobbi Lin. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis.

Table for One is a column by Senior Editor Eric Kim, who loves cooking for himself—and only himself—and seeks to celebrate the beauty of solitude in its many forms.


I have decided recently to take breakfast more seriously (most important meal of the day and all that). Usually I do a pretty good job of the ritual: a single six-minute egg gets me started, Monday through Friday—though sometimes, unfortunately, I only manage a cup of black coffee before I rush out the door.

Weekends allow for a little more leisure. I love a quiet Saturday or Sunday morning, getting up without an alarm clock, putting on a pot of coffee, and pouring myself some orange juice. I lay out the Sunday crossword, too (because reading materials). Then, I turn to the stove and make myself pancakes.

This pancake recipe came about one morning when I was rummaging through my fridge and found a small container of leftover cottage cheese, the remnants clinging to the corners for dear life. Using the container as a makeshift mixing bowl, I whisked an egg into it, along with flour, baking powder, salt, and a little sugar.

This last-minute batter yielded exactly two pancakes, which turned out to be the perfect number of cakes to eat (especially when you've got other delicious accoutrements like bacon, eggs, and strawberries to go with).

Now, I'm here to admit that the "right" number of pancakes to eat in one sitting is a very subjective matter. To each their own. I polled a lot of folks about this: Many said four is the minimum for a good stack (which is what the recipe above yields). Most said three is the ideal amount to feel satiated. Some people agreed with me and said that two is just right, which is the number of pancakes I tend to eat before I get tired of them.

This leads me to my main point: I'm a waffle guy. (Sorry.) In my book, pancakes ordinarily just don't have that much going for them. And I'm not talking about chewy mochi pancakes, or savory scallion pancakes, or even rose-scented pancakes with saffron syrup. I'm talking about your run-of-the-mill Bisquick-style situation.

Which is where cottage cheese comes in. Thanks to that one opportune morning when I added those leftover curds to my batter (or rather, added my batter to those leftover curds), I now finally have a pancake recipe that even I, a waffle person, can get behind.

I adore what cottage cheese—which is, unfairly in my opinion, often maligned—does for the humble griddle cake: It adds indelible lightness and air, as the cheese takes up literal volume (you can see proof of this in the photo of the pancake's cross section above). The cakes, in turn, are fluffy and springy and addictive to eat. But the curds lend their own tangy, cheesy flavor, as well, albeit subtly.

What this means is that these pancakes, especially when paired with the maple syrup–macerated strawberries, taste not unlike the lovechild of strawberry cheesecake (in flavor) and Japanese cheesecake (in texture).

These are, I'm bold enough to claim, pancakes for people who don't love pancakes.

A Note About Serving Size

The amounts you see in the recipe above turn out four pancakes, each about 4 to 5 inches in diameter—which, when coupled with the mapled strawberries, is a substantial breakfast on its own.

But should you want more variety with your meal (bacon, eggs, and all that jazz), here's the same recipe halved, making exactly two pancakes:


How to Make Pancakes for One

Photo by Bobbi Lin. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Unsalted butter, for frying pancakes

Directions

Whisk together the cottage cheese, egg, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy (a little air here will actually help them leaven later as they cook). Stir in the flour and baking powder. Using a 1/3-cup measure, ladle two pancakes into a heated, butter-greased nonstick skillet. Let them cook 2 to 3 minutes on the first side, then 1 to 2 minutes on the second side (these don't take long at all).

Enjoy with maple syrup and a side order of bacon, soft-scrambled eggs, and strawberries.

How many pancakes can you eat in one sitting? Let us know in the comments below.

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Comment
Eric Kim is the Senior Editor and Table for One columnist at Food52. Formerly the Digital Manager at Food Network, he writes about food, travel, and culture and lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway. You can follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho.

9 Comments

Jane S. August 9, 2019
THANKS Eric! Finally got around to making these today and they were FANTASTIC! (and using the cottage cheese container as the mixing bowl was brilliant.) I'm sure these high-protein/low flour pancakes will become a regular breakfast treat for me. I always look forward to your articles and enjoy your perspective.
 
belindajk July 28, 2019
Unfortunately, these days, most of the brands of cottage cheese either don't have or simply lack sufficient probiotic cultures to thicken them. Instead, they add pectin or carrageenan and/or a variety of gums to give it the proper consistency. There are only a few brands that I'm aware of, Nancy's, Daisy among them, that contain cultures alone and possess a wonderful tangy flavor right out of the fridge; no need to leave it sitting out for hours (though I suspect that will further enhance the flavors of any cheese).
 
Author Comment
Eric K. July 28, 2019
Thanks for the tip, Belinda! Didn’t know that.
 
Big P. July 28, 2019
The recipe for One was perfect for sharing with my 96-year-old mom. I made a simple blueberry sauce for the topping, apportioned the batter into 3 small pancakes and served with breakfast sausage. She and I very much enjoyed them, especially the light texture. And no leftover batter. Thanks!
 
Author Comment
Eric K. July 28, 2019
That makes me so happy. Thank you for reporting back. Glad you both enjoyed!
 
Lucien July 27, 2019
Before no-knead bread found its way into every kitchen, Suzanne Dunaway helped kick-start the movement with her wonderful book, "No Need to Knead". In it, she offered this tip for improving the flavor of commercial cottage cheese:

"I discovered that all cottage cheese benefits from a breath of air, so that after sitting out at room temperature for a specific amount of time, it acquires a lovely, slightly sour taste, similar to my grandfather's homemade cottage cheese, which had this flavor from the word go.

"I remove the carton lid and leave it resting on top, and let the cheese sit at room temperature for sixteen to twenty-four hours, no more. When 'aged' cottage cheese is used in cheesecakes, pancakes, fillings, or pasta sauces, the flavor of the recipe is 100 percent better. Trust me."

I've yet to try Ms. Dunaway's cottage cheese hack, Eric, but your pancake recipe sounds like the perfect testing ground!
 
Author Comment
Eric K. July 28, 2019
Oh dang, interesting hack! Sounds delicious.
 
Caitlin R. July 26, 2019
LOVE cottage cheese. My grandma used to call it "poor man's ricotta." It's perfect for sweet or savory situations.
 
Author Comment
Eric K. July 28, 2019
I love that.