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Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes

Ricotta and beaten egg whites give these pancakes a light, fluffy texture. A pan heated just hot enough to quickly evaporate a drop of water guarantees that the pancakes will brown properly and release easily. The butter used to coat the pan should be bubbling but not browned when the batter is ladled into the pan. Pass butter at the table for anyone who wants a little extra richness.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tsp. baking soda  
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk 
  • 2 eggs, separated 
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 3/4 cup whole-milk or part-skim ricotta cheese 
  • 1 Tbs. grated lemon zest 
  • 2 tsp. unsalted butter, melted 
  • 12 strawberries, hulled, sliced and tossed with 1 Tbs. sugar (optional) 

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 250°F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg yolks, sugar, ricotta and lemon zest. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just blended. There will be some small lumps.

In a separate bowl, using a handheld mixer on medium speed or a whisk, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold the beaten whites into the ricotta mixture until just blended.

Place a large griddle or fry pan with low sloping sides over medium heat until hot enough for a drop of water to sizzle and then immediately evaporate. Brush with 1/2 to 1 tsp. of the melted butter.

For each pancake, ladle about 1/4 cup batter onto the hot surface. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until small bubbles appear, the edges start to look dry and the bottoms are golden brown, about 4 minutes. Carefully turn the pancakes over and cook until lightly browned on the other side, about 1 1/2 minutes more. Transfer to an ovenproof platter and place in the oven to keep warm; do not cover the pancakes or they will get soggy. Repeat with the remaining butter and batter to make about 16 pancakes, each about 4 inches in diameter. Serve the pancakes immediately, accompanied by the strawberries. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Breakfast and Brunch, by Georgeanne Brennan, Elinor Klivans, Jordan Mackay and Charles Pierce (Oxmoor House, 2007).