I am not sure it isn’t heresy to say I am not a big pancake fan. I love whisper-thin crêpes with a few drops of lemon juice and a dusting of sugar, but many other pancakes I have had are just a little too heavy for me. That is until I discovered lemon ricotta pancakes.
These beauties have some of the same ingredients as regular buttermilk pancakes; flour, eggs, milk, and baking powder. But the magic comes with the ricotta cheese used in the recipe.
Ricotta, of course, is a creamy cheese made as a byproduct of regular cheese-making. In this process, milk is separated into the curds (the solids for the cheese) and whey, the leftover liquid. The whey is recooked with a little whole milk and an acid, usually lemon or vinegar. The liquid thickens, and hey presto, you have another cheese, this time one which is soft, creamy with a lovely gentle tang. And, as the name ricotta is Italian for "recooked," suddenly all makes sense.
Adding the ricotta into the pancake makes them thicker than the average buttermilk-style, but still light and fluffy with a deliciously squidgy center. This is why I like to make them a bit smaller, so they can puff up fully on the inside and get a nice golden-crisp exterior. Besides that, the tang from the cheese and lemon means they are less sweet, so that you can pile on all your favorite toppings. —Elaine Lemm
- Prep time 15 minutes
- Cook time 15 minutes
- makes 25 to 30 small pancakes, or 12 to 14 larger ones
large eggs, separated
freshly squeezed lemon juice
finely grated lemon zest
- In a small bowl, combine the egg yolks, ricotta, and whole milk until thick and creamy.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or in a medium-size mixing bowl with electric hand mixer, whisk the egg whites until foamy. Add one teaspoon of the lemon juice and continue to whip until you reach stiff peaks, about 5 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until combined. Add half the ricotta-milk mixture to the flour and stir just to combine with a flexible spatula. Repeat with the second half of the ricotta mixture, also adding the lemon zest and remaining juice at this time. Be careful not to over-mix at this stage; some lumps in the batter are fine.
- To this batter, add 2 tablespoons of the beaten egg whites combine to loosen the batter and incorporate the egg whites. Then, carefully fold in the remaining egg whites, taking care not to lose too much air.
- Heat a griddle, crêpe pan, or nonstick skillet to medium-high and smear with butter to coat. Once the pan is hot, drop tablespoon-size dollops of batter onto the pan. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until bubbles start to rise to the surface of the pancakes. Flip the pancakes over and cook on the other side for another minute or so. Keep the cooked pancakes warm in a low-heat oven until you have used up the batter.