Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sweetness and Light

Pancakes are about as old school as you can get - archaeologists have found evidence that they were the earliest and most widely consumed cereal based food eaten in prehistoric societies. You will find them in some form in cuisines all over the world and everyone seems to have a different version of them. Depending on where they are from, you will find preferences for sweet, savoury, thin or thick, soft or crispy. Yep, pancakes have been a favourite amongst human beings for a long time.

Occasionally I whip up a batch of pancakes as a treat on a Sunday morning - they are a big favourite in our household, particularly a version I make with ricotta cheese and lemon. I thought I would share the recipe, as they are quite delicious and the perfect accompaniment for all of the lovely Summer fruit that is in season at the moment.

These pancakes are light and lovely, and would be great as a dessert as well as a special breakfast treat. The key to good pancakes is to not go crazy with the whisk and over mix the batter. If you do, you will likely end up with tough, rubbery pancakes instead of light, airy ones. I know some recipes get you to beat the egg whites separately, but as long as you aren't heavy handed with the mixture I don't think this is really necessary. Keep it simple, don't over beat the mixture and ensure that you allow the mixture to rest and all will be well. I use a non stick pan to cook my pancakes, but if you don't have one, just grease a normal pan lightly and you are good to go.

Because I serve these pancakes with sweet fruit and maple syrup, I don't put sugar in the pancake batter - I think this would make them too sickly. The lemon rind and the ricotta give the dish a lovely freshness and I don't want to drown that all out with a major sugar overload. These pancakes are best made close to serving time, but you can easily make the batter a couple of hours ahead if required and just keep the mixture in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.

As for toppings, these ricotta pancakes are delicious with fresh natural yoghurt and pureed fruit as a sauce instead of maple syrup. They are also great with yoghurt, almonds and fresh honeycomb if you can get it. Yummy. Today, I chose nectarines, mango, blueberries and fresh figs - a perfect way to celebrate the fruits of Summer.

As if this dish wasn't nice enough to look at already, I increased the pretty factor by serving the pancakes on my lovely green vintage china plates that I found in a flea market whilst on my honeymoon in Paris. Something about them is very happy making to me - lovely memories. And anyway, who needs an excuse to eat off the nice china? Keeping it in the cupboard and not using it is utterly pointless.

So, channel your prehistoric ancestors and whip up a batch of pancakes - but maybe mix it up a bit by eating them off the good china? Hell, why not?!

Lemon and Ricotta Pancakes
with Summer Fruits and Maple Syrup

You will need: 1 cup milk, 2 eggs, finely grated rind of half a lemon, 1 1/3 cups self raising flour, two pinches salt, 3 heaped tablespoons ricotta cheese. To serve - maple syrup, fresh fruit .

Method: Whisk together the milk, salt, eggs and lemon rind. Add the flour gradually, continuing to whisk until smooth. Put in the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes.

Fold through the ricotta cheese - it does not have to be smooth - leave some lumps in it. A bit of texture is pleasant and you will get delicious pockets of ricotta as you eat the pancakes.

Heat a non stick fry pan to a medium/high heat and cook the pancakes in batches until golden. Serve the pancakes right away stacked with fresh fruit and drizzled with maple syrup.

Makes 6-8 pancakes.


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