I kind of think any day that begins with homemade pancakes is bound to be a good one. Our Fourth of July began with these. There was no work for either of us (a real rarity for Bowl #2), no grand cookout plans or things that needed doing, just a quiet, rainy day with these pancakes, video games, and the glorious return of the fireworks to the East River on the horizon. (By the way, I also think any day that begins with the boot-up jingle of a video game console is guaranteed to be a winner. Regardless of how old you are.)
The idea for these began in the leftover cream and milk from the ricotta I made a few weeks ago, but it didn’t become a plan until I was digging around in the recesses of our crisper drawers and found (in a fit of excitement) a hefty bag of Meyer lemons that our friends left us when they moved out. (If you have friends moving out of their apartments, especially super cool and food-savvy friends with penchants for fancy brands of mustard, move in. They will leave you three types of jam you’ve never heard of and Thai drinking vinegar and hardy fresh oregano that refuses to die under your black thumb. And three weeks later you will find inexplicably fresh Meyer lemons.)
Lemon ricotta pancakes are as fluffy as their buttermilk counterparts, but the ricotta lends them a creamier, denser texture and flavor, while an extra egg adds a hint of custard to the mix. The “Meyer”-ness of the lemons is at its height when zested, and the extra zest on top is lively, yet sweet. But what truly stole my heart was the chamomile whip – the light floral notes from the tea add an irresistible buoyancy to heavy cream, even without any extra sugar. Whipped cream at breakfast (waffles!) always seems to add a touch of celebration to the whole meal, but this delicate chamomile confection takes it to a new level. The perfect start to a long weekend.
- for the chamomile whipped cream:
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 bag chamomile tea or 1 tbsp loose chamomile
- 1 tsp confectioners' sugar (optional)
- for the pancakes:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (plus a few more tablespoons if ricotta is particularly liquid)
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 cup ricotta cheese, homemade or storebought
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 2 tbsp Meyer lemon (or any citrus) juice
- 1 tbsp Meyer lemon (or any citrus) zest, plus more for topping
- butter for the pan
- confectioners’ sugar for topping
- Make ahead: The night before or several hours before, combine the cream and chamomile in a small saucepan over low heat. Just before it simmers, remove from heat and let cool for 15-30 minutes at room temperature. Remove the teabag or strain the chamomile out through a fine mesh strainer, squeezing the chamomile to extract the most flavor. Chill the cream in the refrigerator completely. Note that it should be completely cold for the cream to whip -- I did this the night before. Also, if you're making your ricotta at home, do this ahead of time as well.
- Right before you’re ready to make the pancakes, use an electric mixer or plenty of arm strength (or a Mason jar) to whip the cream to firm peaks, or your desired consistency. If using an electric beater, set the beater to medium or lower and take care not to overbeat (or else you’ll get butter!) Replace in the fridge while you make the pancakes. Optional: Add a teaspoon of confectioners' sugar to the cream after it reaches soft peaks for a hint of sweetness. I just saved it for the topping, but it's up to you.
- To make the pancakes, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together the ricotta, milk, egg yolks, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
- Fold the dry ingredients gently in the wet until just incorporated and small lumps remain. If batter is too liquid, sprinkle a few more tablespoons of flour over the mixture and mix very gently again to incorporate.
- In a small bowl or cup, whip the egg white with an electric beater (or, again, with plenty of arm strength) until it reaches medium peaks. Fold the egg white very gently into the pancake batter until only partially incorporated, leaving wisps of egg white visible.
- Heat a pat of butter in a cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. When a drop of water sizzles in the pan, you're ready to cook. Using a 1/3-cup measuring cup, drop batter onto the skillet (you may need to spread it a bit with your cup to form a circle). When bubbles pop on the pancake and leave a momentary hole, flip the pancake to cook the other side. Let cook for 1-2 more minutes, then remove and set aside. (Optionally, store the pancakes on an oven-proof plate in an oven set to its lowest temperature to keep the pancakes warm.) Repeat until batter is all gone.
- Serve with plenty of chamomile whipped cream, lemon zest, and confectioners’ sugar.
Whether or not you add the confectioners' sugar as a last touch on top or in the whipped cream itself, don't omit it -- I thought a touch of sugar was key to bringing together the floral notes in the whipped cream and the creaminess of the pancakes.