Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

I’m often asked what type of food I like to cook most. I  struggle with that question because I haven’t found much I don’t like to cook. If pressed, however, I suppose I’d say that breakfast foods are my favorite. I consider pancakes, granola, scones, quiches, frittatas, and breakfast casseroles among my specialties.

I seriously love pancakes and am constantly trying new recipes. In the last few months alone, I’ve made carrot cake pancakes, lemon poppy seed pancakes, paleo pancakes, gingerbread spice dutch baby pancakes, and my all-time favorite, blueberry buttermilk flapjacks. But I’m also a pancake snob. I strongly dislike pancakes from a box mix (the difference between pancakes made from a box mix and those made from scratch is astounding), and I also generally don’t like pancakes at restaurants. I’ve never quite figured out why, but I’ve felt that way since I was very young. My favorite place to eat pancakes is at home—fresh off the skillet, with a hot cup of French-press coffee and served with real maple syrup.

If you have a leisurely Sunday morning with no place to go and nothing to do, these Lemon Ricotta Pancakes are near perfection—light and fluffy and not too sweet, with a touch of lemon flavor and swirls of ricotta. They take time, my friend, but one must be patient to reap the rewards of pancake bliss. I enjoyed a stack with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and drizzle of maple syrup. But next time, I plan to spruce them up even more with fresh blueberries or raspberries.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes (slightly adapted from recipe by Jill Santopietro for Chow; serves 2-4)

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for coating the skillet
1 cup whole milk
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
3 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
Powdered sugar, blueberries or raspberries, and maple syrup, for serving

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally; remove from heat and add milk.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, 1 tablespoon of sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla. Add about a quarter of the milk-butter mixture (this will temper the eggs), then whisk in the remaining milk-butter mixture until smooth.

Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg whites to soft peaks, while sprinkling in the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Fold the egg whites into the batter until just combined.

Gently fold the ricotta into the batter until just combined.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat until hot, about 4 minutes.

Coat the skillet with butter, then pour the batter into the pan by 1/3 cup fulls. Cook until bubbles form on top of the pancakes, about 4 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes more. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve immediately with powdered sugar, blueberries or raspberries, and maple syrup.

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