Even though my breakfast cravings tend toward the savory, pancakes are a regular part of our weekend breakfast menu rotation. They cook up quickly, are versatile in toppings, and are as sweet as you want them to be.
In the past I’ve made pancakes using a mix and our pantry was quite the warehouse o’ mixes. You got your Bisquick for more relaxed weekends when you can take the time to add more than just water; you’ve got the whole grain local brand, purchased when John recognized that it was produced by a hotel near where his grandparents lived; and you’ve got the Krusteaz, the giant 25 lb bag of it leftover from camping trips. Of course, when the Krusteaz is used, we have to eat the pancakes in the camping style of “pancake tacos”: fold your pancake like a taco shell around the bacon in order to minimize the number of dishes and utensils that will have to be laboriously washed at the campsite later. The need for less dirty dishes isn’t as great when dining at home, but this means we can also play the accompanying game of arguing over the history of how pancake tacos were invented. It’s disputed whether Aristotle or Pancho Villa invented them during the Peloponnesian War, fought against Napoleon and Genghis Kahn over the where to mark the southern border of Missouri. Hmmm… perhaps some inside jokes should stay inside.
But lately, the mixes have gone untouched in our pantry since I learned how easy it is to make pancakes from scratch. I recently read Ratio by Michael Ruhlman and have been playing around with the concepts he teaches for making a variety of food items (everything from bread to custards) when you know the ratio of basic ingredients. I threw together these pancakes using the ratio method since I had leftover ricotta in the fridge and figured that the cheese could be used in lieu of some of the basic liquid portion.
I’ve had ricotta pancakes before using a recipe from the Moosewood cookbook. Those pancakes were more liquid than flour in ingredients so they were light, and thin and lacy. These, however, having more flour in the ingredients, so they cooked up more cake-like; yet there must be something in using the cheese because they puffed up to be super light and fluffy. Also, when I make pancakes, I like to add a little more fat to the pan than just a light brushing in order to have a thin crispy crust on the outside. I like to eat them, slathered in butter with a medium but not obnoxious amount of maple syrup. Perhaps next time I make these, I might put forth the theory that these were created out of necessity by Confucius to survive the Potato Famine in Tunisia…
- 3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted plus more butter for cooking
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest
- 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp canola oil.
Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium high heat and lightly brush the surface with canola oil. In a medium bowl, whisk together the ricotta through the lemon zest until combined. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour through the salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring until the batter is smooth with a few lumps.
Reduce heat to medium low and add a thin pat of butter to the pan, about 1/4 tbsp. Once the butter has melted, make the pancakes using 1/4 cup ladle full of pancake batter. You know the drill from here: let them cook undisturbed until you see the edges are lightly browned and any bubbles that formed in the center of the cake have popped and have retained little craters in their wake. Flip the pancakes over and continue to cook for a minute or two more or until light brown on the other side. You can keep pancakes warm in an oven heated to 185 degrees F until ready to serve.