Ricotta Pancakes

When I look back on this period of our lives — and I do sincerely hope that we’ll be looking back on it someday and that quarantine isn’t just a new way of life — there are certain cultural artifacts that’ll remind of me this time: The Leftovers (which we marathoned at the start of the pandemic; it’s very on-the-nose and also very good), The Nilsson Sessions (my go-to cooking music these days), The Patrick Melrose novels (read them over the past few months), Parting Glances (an incredible movie that we watched in our Zoom movie club), and, most relevant to your interests: ricotta pancakes.

How did I arrive at these ricotta pancakes? I can trace it back to my friend Diana telling me about Farm Fresh To You (a great CSA) and the incredible ricotta that they carry from Bellwether Farms. I signed up and started getting the ricotta every week — it comes in a little basket, so the whey drains out and the ricotta is extra thick — and at some point I had a ricotta pile-up. Instead of just eating it with a spoon (a viable option, considering how good it was), I decided to treat ourselves to ricotta pancakes one morning for breakfast.

Craig is a waffle guy, a French toast guy, but not a pancake guy. I mentioned that I was making pancakes and he seemed unenthused. I told him that they had ricotta and he seemed a little more thused. Then I made them using a recipe from The Kitchn...

…and upon taking a bite his eyes lit up and he said that they were easily the best pancakes he’d ever had.

What makes them so great? Well the batter is super easy: it’s flour, a little sugar, salt, baking powder, milk, and then that ricotta, which makes everything so rich. But the real kicker is you separate the eggs, working the yolks into the batter, and then you beat the whites until you get stiff peaks and fold that in. That lightens things up so much, the pancakes practically float out of the pan when you’re making them.

So treat yourself, this quarantine, to a pancakes with a little pizazz. When you look back on this time, they’ll be one of the good memories.

Ricotta Pancakes

The fluffiest, most ethereal pancakes you'll ever meet.
Yield: 8 pancakes

Materials

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese The better your ricotta, the better the pancakes will be (find Bellwether if you can). Drain the ricotta for 30 minutes in a strainer if it seems very wet.
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbs granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt
  • 3/4 cup milk Whole milk is best here.
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Butter

Instructions

  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a small bowl.
  • Mix together the ricotta, milk, egg yolks, and vanilla in a separate bowl. Add the dry to the wet and stir gently 'til it's all combined.
  • Now's the workout: beat the egg whites BY HAND with a whisk. I say "by hand" because this is your morning workout! You have to earn those pancakes. Stop when they form stiff peaks (lift up the egg whites with a whisk, and if they stay frozen like a painting of a wave, you're good).
  • Stir some of the egg whites into the pancake batter, then fold in the rest with a spatula.
  • Heat a griddle or a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add enough butter to coat the pan. Use an ice-cream scoop or a 1/3-cup measure to pour batter on to the hot butter. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until you see bubbles on top of the pancakes and the bottoms are starting to crisp and turn golden brown. Flip and cook another minute or two, until golden. Remove the pancakes to a cookie sheet and keep warm in a 300 degree oven until all the pancakes are done.
  • Serve the pancakes with maple syrup and blueberries, if you have blueberries. (Poached rhubarb is great here too.) Enjoy!

Other Worthy Ricotta Pancakes: