Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Orange-Ricotta Pancakes with Almonds

The weekend is near (not a moment too soon!). Time for relaxing and cooking wonderful things for breakfast. And you don’t have to eat it before noon to consider it breakfast – take it from me.

I really like pancakes. Mike does not. As a food, he sees very little value in them. A lot of people probably feel this way because of countless rubbery, foamy, tasteless and ill-made pancakes that are sadly served everyday in all kinds of places. I don’t like those either. I like lots of flavor and knowing there is some nutritional value in my pancakes so I won’t get a sugar high and want to eat again in an hour.

These orange-ricotta pancakes did the trick, and on top of that, Mike liked them too. Though I wouldn’t force a plain, no-frills buttermilk pancake on him because it’s just not his thing, I think he really objects to crummy pancakes, not pancakes in general.

I’ve never made ricotta pancakes before, and I was surprised that the flavor wasn’t more dominant; rather it leaves only a slight cheesy tang. The real flavor comes from the orange. I used a lot of zest, some juice, and the flavor was unmistakable. The pancakes rely on beaten egg whites for much of their structure—there isn’t much flour in the recipe at all—so they’re all lightness and soft texture. I suspected they could use a little something to make them heartier, so I toasted slivered almonds and underscored that flavor with almond extract in the batter. You could use only vanilla extract so you don’t have to purchase the almond flavoring just for these pancakes. I used whole wheat pastry flour, but you can use all-purpose too.

So, that’s something for you to look forward to this Sunday morning, maybe? Even if you don’t make these pancakes, spend some time enjoying breakfast (I go back and forth, but it may be my favorite meal), and let me know what YOU like to make on relaxed weekend mornings.

Orange-Ricotta Pancakes with Almonds
I used this recipe as a base, but it rather took on a life of its own.
Some recipes recommend draining your ricotta, others don’t. Unless yours is very dry, err on the side of caution and set it over a sieve lined with a couple paper towels for an hour (or do it overnight in the fridge). If you’d rather not bother, I’d guess the pancakes will still turn out fine.

Makes about 8-10 (5-inch) pancakes; may be doubled

Dry ingredients:
2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour or AP
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Wet ingredients:
3 eggs, separated
3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese, drained if desired
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest, from one large navel orange
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh juice from same orange
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted, for serving

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and whisk to blend. In another bowl, combine the egg YOLKS only and the remaining wet ingredients and whisk to blend.

Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer at high speed until you get stiff peaks.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring until just moistened. Fold one-third of the whites into the batter with a spatula, using as few strokes as possible. Fold in the remaining whites in two additions. A few white streaks should still be visible in the batter.

Heat a skillet or griddle to medium or medium-low, depending on how hot your equipment runs, and coat with cooking spray or oil. Ladle about 1/4-cup batter onto cooking surface and spread slightly. Cook until a few bubbles start to form and bottom is golden. Flip and finish cooking the opposite side. Serve with maple syrup and toasted almonds. bloggers really like ricotta pancakes:

Ricotta Hotcakes for Tom Brady on Food Blogga
Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Sauteed Apples on Smitten Kitchen
Bill Granger's Ricotta Pancakes from Cream Puffs in Venice
Amanda Hesser's Lemon-Ricotta-Hazelnut Pancakes on The Wednesday Chef
Blueberry-Ricotta Pancakes on Culinary in the Country (love the nutmeg and WW flour in those!)


Tartelette said...

Weekends are usually just one day, Sundays, and then it is brioche or croissant for me (so predictable) and pancakes for him or French toast if I bring bread back from a gig. It is the only thing he knows how to cook, but I will try this pancake recipe on him this Sunday! They look delicious!

Patricia Scarpin said...

These are fabulous, Julie. Orange and almonds go so well together, and I love pancakes, too!

Erin @ The Skinny Gourmet said...

My husband makes amazing sour cream pancakes that he usually trots out when we have company staying over. But I love the way the crumb looks in the "bite" shot. I'm sure these were delicious. And how can you not love orange flavor to a pancake?

Kristen said...

My husband doesn't like pancakes either. Seriously... how can someone NOT like pancakes? I don't get it!
These look fab!

Shandy said...

I'm with you. . .breakfast is wonderful and not always just in the morning. At my house, breakfast is more like brunch =). These pancakes look absolutely delicious! I am definitely going to have to give them a try and I LOVE your alterations to the recipe! I have a pancake recipe that sounds more like a dessert and involves making a lemon curd that is sandwiched between the pancakes and then drizzling a blueberry compote over the top. THe colors sound just as beautiful is the flavors should taste. I will have to make them asap so that I can blog and share =D! I love coming to your blog because you see to inspire me more times then I can count. . .THank you! =D

Anonymous said...

Its funny - Out of the blue, I've been thinking/dreaming the past 2 days of this pastry I ate when I was travelling in Italy some years back. I was waiting at a bus stop in Naples, early one Sunday morning and saw this cute lady in a tiny bakery stall on the street selling pastries - sort of but not exactly like filled croissants. Was starving and saw the bus come around just as I ran over to the stall - so didn't even have time to ask the lady what was in it (wouldn't have understood what she said anyway, coz my Italian is severely lacking). Got on the bus, sat down and took a bite - oh heavenly bite!! - of pastry brimming with fluffy fresh ricotta sweetened with honey and scented with fragrant orange zest. Was my first time trying that combination and it was sublime. Makes me weak in the knees just thinking about it. Beautiful serendipity!
Have to try these pancakes sometime - they should remind me of those lovely flavors.


Susan from Food Blogga said...

Hey, Julie. Thanks for the link! I was going to make ricotta hotcakes this past Sunday for breakfast when to my horror I was all out of ricotta. (That never happens in my house.) So I put them on the menu for this wkend. I'd love to try your recipe with oranges, as I have some really delicious ones right now. Perfect timing!

Rob Johnson said...

Looks awesome! Great food sensory here!