I was going to say that I owe Lila, my littlest sis, a pancake, but I’ve been meaning to share these ricotta pancakes here for two weeks and I feel like I owed them to you, too.
A few weeks ago, I’d taken Friday off to hang out with Lila, who was on spring break, and if given the choice still wants just one thing for breakfast: pancakes.
We had big plans for watching the Star Wars original trilogy on our day off, and I started to make breakfast. But since I usually go for waffles instead of pancakes on a weekend morning, a basic pancake recipe didn’t immediately come to mind and I quickly Googled my way to a recipe. And it was okay. They were okay pancakes. But I don’t want to bother making pancakes unless they’re good, and I don’t want to serve my sister pancakes that aren’t great.
The next day, after Lila and my other little sis, Meli, were on their way back to Miami, I decided to find a better pancake. I landed on a recipe from The Kitchn that interested me because it called for ricotta, which was already in my fridge, and I figured would make light and fluffy pancakes.
At a glance, the step requiring you to separate egg yolks from egg whites may elicit a groan at an early hour. But those egg whites get whipped into a frothy foam and when added to the batter along with tender ricotta, you get insanely fluffy pancakes. Totally worth it for these pillowy pancakes! And when that light batter hits a skillet, you get that beautiful brown lacy pattern as the pancakes set. The other pancakes were so plain, but these turned out golden brown and lovely.
To match the lightness in these pancakes, I couldn’t resist mixing lemon zest into the sugar. That lemony hit is bright and so welcome on a sunny morning spent lingering over breakfast. Next time my sisters are visiting, I’m ready with my go-to pancake.
Ricotta and frothy egg whites make for incredibly light and fluffy pancakes. I rubbed lemon zest into the sugar to play up that lightness even more. I love to serve pancakes with raspberry jam in addition to maple syrup, but you could also shower these in powdered sugar.
Makes 8 to 10 pancakes.
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs, separated into yolks and whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Maple syrup and jam or powdered sugar, for serving
If your ricotta seems to have a lot of liquid, set it in a fine mesh strainer to drain off excess liquid about 30 minutes before you start cooking. If your ricotta seems fairly dry and compact, you can skip this step.
Use your fingertips to rub lemon zest into sugar in a small mixing bowl until incorporated. Whisk together flour, baking powder, lemon zest with sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Combine ricotta, milk, egg yolks, and vanilla in a separate, larger mixing bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the ricotta and milk mixture, stirring gently until just combined.
Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff. Stir a small scoop of the egg whites into the pancake batter to lighten the batter. Fold in the remaining whites with a spatula. Do this gently so you don’t deflate the batter.
Heat a cast iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Melt a bit of butter in the pan, just enough to coat the surface. Pour 1/3-cupfuls of batter onto the hot skillet, 2 or 3 pancakes at a time. Cook the pancakes for about 3 or 4 minutes, until the bottom sides touching the skillet are golden and a few bubbles form on the uncooked surface of the pancakes. Flip the pancakes and cook another 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown. Repeat with the remaining batter.
Serve the pancakes immediately with maple syrup and jam, lemon curd, or powdered sugar.
(Recipe adapted from The Kitchn.)