Sunday, 8 February 2015

Ricotta Pancakes for Breakfast, Lunch, Tea

Ricotta Pancakes
with banana and maple syrup

It's almost Shrove Tuesday.  I know because I'm getting the usual hints and reminders that pancake making needs to be factored-in to the food plans soon. With its approach comes the usual thoughts of what kind of pancakes to make?

Buttermilk Pancakes with their tangy, ripe fermented flavour and open texture that sucks up syrup like a sponge. Their satisfaction quotient belies the fact that buttermilk has only a 2% fat content, being the liquid leftover from the butter-making process.  If you can get true buttermilk, rather than the supermarket 'cultured' variety, your pancakes will taste so much better.  However, my favourite pancake for this day of the year, and probably yours too, is the one who's mixing I don't even have to think about; the one I've made 'forever'.  My Shrove Tuesday Pancakes, I've learned, fall somewhere between Jane Grigson's "Pancakes for the Poor" and "Pancakes for the Rich".  This is almost certainly the one I will make on 17 February.  There will be sugar and fresh lemons on the table, and Lyle's Golden Syrup for some (me).

Folding in the egg whites

But I've already offered you recipes for both of these pancake mixes.  So here's a Ricotta version.
Ricotta is a soft Italian cheese made from milk whey left over from cheesemaking.  The resultant pancakes are richer than the buttermilk version, having a higher fat content, and producing a similarly fluffy-texture.  For me, the taste is not as good as a buttermilk pancake, but that could be down to the fact I can get good quality buttermilk, at an affordable price, more easily than an equivalent ricotta I'm prepared to treat this way.

This is my go-to recipe for Ricotta Pancakes.  It's adapted from the one in Breakfast, Lunch, Tea by Rose Carrarini of Rose Bakery in Paris and includes the reminder: 'when adding "wet to dry" never knock the air out of the mixture by over-mixing the batter.  In fact at this point you should "turn the batter over with a large spoon no more than eight times!'

Ricotta Pancakes
(Serves 4 - makes around 8 pancakes)

100g(4oz) ricotta cheese
100ml (3½ fl oz) milk
2 medium eggs, separated
75g (2¾ oz) plain four
½ teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of salt
A little unsalted butter for cooking

Beat the ricotta with the milk and egg yolks until smooth.
In a separate large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Add the wet mixture to the flour and stir very lightly.
Beat the egg whites until stiff then fold them into the batter.
Melt just a little butter in a small frying pan and add 3-4 tablespoons of batter.  Tilt the pan to get an even thickness of batter.  
Cook on a low to medium heat until the pancake is lightly golden on the bottom.  Turn and cook for another minute or so until cooked through.  
Cook the rest of the pancakes in the same way, adding a little extra butter to the pan for each.
Serve hot with your choice of fruit or sauce.