Enjoy this Fat Tuesday breakfast, lunch or dinnerThis year, Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, falls on March 5. Traditionally, it was the time to use up fats and other foods that might be avoided during the austere season of Lent.
Pancakes in various forms have become staples of Mardi Gras for their versatility. This version uses ricotta and beaten egg whites for a very tender and fluffy pancake; lemon and apples add flavor. Because of the egg whites, this recipe uses at least three bowls, but there’s no way around that if you want the fluffiest pancakes.
I’ve used apples here because they’re in season, but you can make this with any seasonal fruit throughout the year. Use apricots, peaches, plums and other soft stone fruits in the summer. Berries of any sort also would be delicious and pretty.
Because apples are hard, I like them better in this recipe if they’ve been softened first by baking until tender but not mushy.
Baked apples keep well in the refrigerator, so you may as well bake more than you need. Serve the extras for dessert with ice cream or for breakfast with yogurt.
You’ll want an apple variety that holds its shape when cooked rather than the softer varieties that turn to applesauce. Try Pink Lady, Honey Crisp, Fuji and Jonagold.
You could replace the lemon zest and juice with that of an orange, but zest only about 1⁄3 of the orange.
If you’d like, you could swap in some whole wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose flour, perhaps ½ to ¾ of a cup.
Serve the pancakes for any meal (who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner?) with thickly sliced bacon or sausages and a glass of sparkling hard cider.
Apple Ricotta Pancakes
Makes 12-15 pancakes
- 2 or 3 apples, cored and peeled
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 1¾ cups flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup ricotta cheese (whole milk is best)
- ¾ cup milk Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice into a bowl. Add 1 cup of water.
Turn the apples in the water to help them from turning brown. Place the apples into a shallow baking dish. Bake until the apples are tender but not mushy and easily pierced by a skewer, 20 to 35 minutes, depending on the apples. Let cool to room temperature. The apples may be baked days ahead, but let them come to room temperature before making pancakes.
When ready to make the pancakes, cut the apples crosswise into ¼-inch thick slices and set aside.
Beat the egg whites in a large bowl until soft peaks form. (Stop well before the peaks are stiff and dry.) Set aside.
In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In yet another bowl, whisk ricotta, milk, egg yolks, lemon zest and 1 tablespoon lemon juice until smooth. Shake flour mixture by thirds over the ricotta mixture, whisking after each addition until fairly smooth.
Whisk ¼ of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it.
Gently fold in the remaining whites, still using the whisk. Don’t over mix: there can be a few streaks of unincorporated egg whites. Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat.
Generously coat the pan with butter or oil. (A mixture of the two is good.) Scoop or ladle the batter into the pan, placing an apple ring on each pancake. Cook until bubbles form around the edges and through the middle of the The edges of the pancakes should look dry. Flip and cook until the bottom is golden brown. If cooking for a group, the pancakes can be kept in a warm oven on an oven-safe platter.
Serve with butter or lightly whisked crème fraîche and syrup.
- Replace the lemon zest and juice with that of an orange, but zest only about
- 1/3 of the orange.
- Swap in some whole wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose flour, perhaps ½ to ¾ of a cup.
- Use apricots, peaches, plums and other soft stone fruits; berries of any sort.