What makes a pancake a hotcake and not a pancake?
It’s a case of cake semantics and the answer, according to my breakfast brain, relates to thickness. I feel that a pancake is the thinner of the two, while hotcakes are…. I don’t know, more… sassy. Hotcakes plump and pert, and while making them I find it best to be bare foot, wearing high-waisted pants and a headscarf, 1940s style. Picture this… you’re standing over the stove, the sun and smell of batter calling sleepy babes to the kitchen as you flip and sip coffee. The hotcakes are piled unreasonably high, ready for hungry morning guests who are sitting at the breakfast bench with a fork in one hand and jug of maple syrup in the other.
I really like that image.
These ricotta hotcakes are everything they should be – light, satisfying and eager for syrup. Really, friends, when not using your ricotta for doughnutting, you should be hotcaking. I recommend serving the hotcakes with strawberries, as above, or a quick compote. At a pinch a good jam will do, swirled through tart greek yoghurt. And while eating you can do as Ben did and read Blindness (woah!) or go my route and linger over a recipe for broccoli with orecchiette by Georgio. Both of these books are superb.
Beyond yoghurt, these hotcakes do well alongside vanilla and/or cardamom-spiked mascarpone, and I’ve provided a recipe (more of an instruction, really) below. A scoop of something not-so-sweet but creamy is fairly mandatory in this hotcake situation. Then we decorate the not-so-sweet cream and not-so-sweet hotcakes with so-sweet pure maple syrup in true 1940’s North American fashion. It’s so very good. Just tie your headscarf, whisk those egg whites into stiff peaks and get flipping.
Serves 4 (I make a full batch even for just the two of us and will freeze the remaining hotcakes. Just wrap them individually in plastic wrap and pop in the toaster to heat them up).
Adapted from The Kitchn’s great ricotta hotcake recipe.
1 cup Spelt Flour (regular wheat flour is fine too)
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
A pinch of Sea Salt
2 Eggs, separated
1 cup Ricotta (I love Nonna Sofia‘s brand)
1 tablespoon Pure Maple Syrup
2/3 cup Milk
Butter, for the pan
To serve: berries, vanilla cardamom mascarpone (see recipe below) and pure maple syrup
1. Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a small mixing bowl and whisk to aerate and combine.
2. Whisk the egg yolks, ricotta, maple and milk in a separate large mixing bowl.
3. Whisk the egg whites in a large mixing bowl vigorously (or with a mixer) until stiff peaks form.
4. Add the flour to the mixing bowl with the ricotta/milk mixture and gently fold to combine. Add 1/3rd of the egg whites to the bowl and carefully fold through, then fold in the remaining egg whites.
5. Heat a dab of butter in a nonstick pan (or two) over medium heat. When hot, use 1/3 cup to scoop the batter onto the pan. Cook for ~3 minutes until the undersides are golden, then confidently flip with a spatula and cook for another couple of minutes until cooked through. Place the hotcakes on a wire rack so they don’t get soggy (cover with foil if you want to keep them warm) and cook the remainder of your pancakes. Top with berries, vanilla cardamom mascarpone (see recipe below) and pure maple syrup.
Vanilla Cardamom Mascarpone
Scoop 250g quality mascarpone into a small mixing bowl (I’ve been loving this brand recently but would love to make my own or find a great local producer – any tips?). Fold through 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or the seeds of 1/2 a vanilla bean) and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom (I pound green cardamom pods in a mortar and pestle, fish out the skins and then pound again to get the powder).