If you want to make a stack of fluffy and soft pancakes in a matter of minutes, ricotta is the secret ingredient you should be looking for! By adding in the batter a bit of lemon zest, you’ll get the freshest and delicious combination that will help you to start the day with a smile.
I love pancakes with a “fluffy factor” on point and a soft custardy inside. That’s why I often add bananas (for the best creamy result, I blend them with the liquid of choice, based on which recipe I’m using), yogurt, or kefir to the batter. Another idea for getting soft pancakes that taste like a delicious decadent chocolate cake involves avocado (I’ve shared the recipe for my chocolate avocado pancakes here). To improve the texture of your pancakes, you can also add some cooked pumpkin into the batter and prepare a tasty Autumn-themed breakfast (you can use my recipe with plenty of spices and whole grain flour).
There are several recipes in which ricotta is paired with buttermilk, to increase the softness of the pancakes: here I’ve decided to keep the things simple and use an extra ingredient that’s always available in my house (plain yogurt).
WHAT IS EXACTLY THAT MAKES THESE PANCAKES EXTRA FLUFFY?
It’s a combination of factors. We can find the answer to this question thinking about chemistry and considering the composition of the key ingredients of the recipe.
- The raising agent used in these pancakes is baking soda (bicarbonate of soda, sodium bicarbonate). As you probably know, sodium bicarbonate is a base with a pH of 9 and it raises the pH of a mixture when added into it (for an overview of pH values: 7 = neutral, higher values = basic, lower values = acidic). I’ve already mentioned bicarbonate within my tips on how to make the best homemade hummus. The bicarbonate will react with any acid in the batter, following a simple acid-base reaction that generates a gas (carbon dioxide – that’s why some bubbles and a light fizzing will occur in the mixture). Consider that yogurt has a pH of approx. 4-4.6, while ricotta’s pH value is around 5.8-6 (and, as a reference, milk’s pH is around 6.7). When you heat the mixture, the acid-base reaction is accelerated.
- The key ingredients of this recipe are ricotta and yogurt: being both full-fat, they simply increase the creaminess of pancakes with their fats content (for a comparison, think about how fluffy the bread turns when there’s yogurt or milk mixed in the dough; you’ll get a similar effect with a dairy-free enriched bread made with coconut milk).
- Last, but not for importance: the effect of gluten. When the flour is mixed with a liquid, the gluten molecules (protein) become active: this means that they will tend to bond with each other and create a specific elastic structure made of protein in which the air bubbles will be trapped. Pair this effect with a leaving agent like the baking soda mentioned above, and you’ll get the “fluffy factor” of your pancakes. Gluten obviously is an extra help but you can make fluffy pancakes with gluten-free flours, too!
- 250 g ricotta
- 50 g plain unsweetened yogurt
- 120 g whole grain flour (you can also decide to use a 60:40 mix of whole grain flour and plain white unbleached – opt for brown rice flour for a gluten-free option)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp of grated lemon (use organic unwaxed lemons)
- 1/2 tsp of grated fresh ginger
- a pinch of salt
- approx. 100-120 ml water (adjust the amount based on the kind of ricotta and yogurt available)
- toppings: here I’ve used some yogurt (mixed with cacao powder), blueberries, and honey
In a medium-sized bowl, combine eggs, ricotta, yogurt, ginger, lemon zest, and approx. 50 ml of water. Mix well these ingredients and start adding the flour (add also more liquid in small portions, if necessary). Stir until there are no lumps but don’t overmix the batter. Heat a frying pan, preferably a non-stick one, on medium heat with approx. 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil (but if you have a good non-stick pan, you can even cook them without it). Use 2-3 tbsp for each pancake, moving the pan until the batter is evenly distributed. Cook each pancake until it can be easily flipped with a spatula. Gently mix the batter before cooking each pancake. Using these quantities, you will be able to make approx. 8-9 pancakes.
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