Strawberry-Ricotta Pancakes

The girls started back to school this week, but my dread concerning school-day mornings has been mounting for several weeks now.  Since not long after the school year ended in June, really.

My girls are five-and-a-half, but as sleepers they have always resembled adolescents: they fight going to bed at night, and they can sleep in like champions.  Even with their relatively generous school start time — they start at 8:30, and are not out waiting for a bus like other kids in the neighborhood at 7:00 each day — we are always dragging them out of bed, forcing clothes and food onto/into them, and avoiding a fight at all costs.

Sometimes we even play motivational songs and videos while we coax food into their mouths:

There is this parent-fantasy book called The 7 O’Clock Bedtime by Ida Schaenen that offers reasonable-sounding suggestions for achieving and awesome-sounding 7 o’clock bedtime for your kids. There are all kinds of reasons why little in this book worked for us, but the lasting impression I have from the book is her appeal to parents to revive real breakfasts. She is saddened by the smoothies and energy bars that kids grab on their way out the door, and she paints a picture of a household where children wake up (after like 12 hours of sleep, of course) to lovely smells of hot chocolate on the stove and something good in the oven. . . .

There’s quite a bit wrong with that picture. For me, in particular, it’s that the mom (in my universe, it’s usually the mom, sorry…) getting all that real food cooking has to get up, get herself ready, and get the food going while everyone else blissfully enjoys another REM cycle.  But let’s not think about that right now.

I am really trying, with this new school year, to escape the “I cannot believe I have to do this outrageous thing!” approach to parenting, in favor of one that makes our day a little less hectic and painful — maybe even a little more memorable and happy.

So these were our first day of school pancakes. These were inspired by amazing blueberry-ricotta pancakes I had last weekend when we went to Cranky’s in Long Island City.  I was nervous ordering non-plain pancakes, due to bad pancake experiences in recent months, as well as to the fact that our standard home-made pancakes are awesome, but Cranky’s really did a great job. I could say more about those pancakes specifically and Cranky’s in general, but this is already getting too long; another time.

I made the batter, mixed the ricotta, and chopped the strawberries ahead of time, so even though we ALL overslept (now you know where they get it), there was still time to sit together and eat before school. The enormous 8-pancake griddle, in which we invested this summer and have enjoyed thoroughly, helped a lot too.

Look at the time!  A late night mixing pancake batter, then another late night writing about it. No surprise my children are night owls and love sleeping in!

Strawberry-Ricotta Pancakes

[adapted from a smitten kitchen recipe for plain pancakes, itself adapted from Martha Stewart]

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (or to taste)
  • 1 cup strawberries, chopped
  • powdered sugar (optional)

Mix together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.  In a separate bowl, combine the egg, butter, and buttermilk.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir just enough to combine everything.  If you like sweet pancakes, you can stir in 1-2 tablespoons of sugar, but it’s not really necessary in this recipe. Cover the batter, and place in the fridge.   (The pancakes really do taste better if the batter is made the previous night, but they are fine if it’s not.)

Combine the ricotta, sugar, and vanilla in a small bowl. Taste the mixture many times to make sure it is exactly what you want — you may like more sugar, less vanilla, etc.    Place the mixture in the fridge.

Chop the strawberries into small pieces, and refrigerate those too.

When you are ready to cook the pancakes, heat a griddle until it’s ready. I have no idea what the right temperature is; I use a stove-top griddle over a medium flame.

I found the best way to make these pancakes is to stir the ricotta mixture in right before baking the pancakes on the griddle, then dropping in strawberries while the pancakes are cooking (see the picture above).  If you don’t stir the ricotta in too vigorously, you will have nice lumps of ricotta in your final pancake.

Cook the batter until bubbly, flip, then finish cooking.

Oh! This recipe makes about 12 pancakes, which I realize is a small batch.  But I don’t like leftovers of pancakes with fillings, so I intentionally made a small-batch recipe.

Serve with powdered sugar or maple syrup. We found that syrup was really un-necessary for these pancakes.

And by all means, save some ricotta to eat with strawberries!  My new favorite snack:

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