I seem to have become infatuated with almonds in every form. I've been nibbling tamari almonds, a fantastic recipe from Mrs. Wheelbarrow, in between meals at work. I've put the lovely Mandelin almond paste I received from chefshop.com to use in some seriously good almond cakes. My latest experiment: pancakes, with almond flour. And you know what? they aren't even a little bit heavy.
Last weekend, the wife requested pancakes, and people, I'd have to be crazy to deny my lady pancakes even once. Usually, I make the best buttermilk pancakes, but lacking buttermilk, I used this as an opportunity to branch out.
Incidentally, another thing I've been doing: working my way through Amanda Hesser's NYT Essential Cookbook (as surely you know.) Paging through the breakfast section, I saw a recipe for hazelnut-lemon ricotta pancakes. It's an original Hesser recipe, developed with inspiration from the hazelnut waffles at Balthazar, the lemon ricotta pancakes at Four Seasons, and the cottage cheese pancakes from the Joy of Cooking. I didn't have hazelnut flour, but my almond flour called to me from the freezer.
I was worried I'd be missing something by cutting out the hazelnuts. They have a rich, buttery quality that almonds lack. I thought about trying to compensate -- more butter? -- but came up short on ideas, so instead, I decided to double down on the sweetness of the almonds by adding some oat flour to the batter.
Kim Boyce's recent book, Good to the Grain, has a recipe for oatmeal pancakes, which I've made several times, that calls for both cooked oatmeal and ground oats (oat flour). I had some extra oat flour in the freezer, so I used it here, and I have to say, I think it was the clincher. The oats and almonds were both earthy but gently sweet, and they added pleasant rough texture and body to an otherwise etherial pancake. A definite winner. I'm not one to caution against drenching pancakes with maple syrup, but honestly, skip it here. A pile of strawberries, a dusting of powdered sugar or a drizzle of warmed honey is all they need.
Fluffy Oat-Almond Pancakesadapted from a recipe in the NYT Essential Cookbook Serves 4
If you don't have oats, you can use whole wheat flour. You can also eliminate the regular flour entirely and use all oat flour, for a more rustic but no less fluffy pancake i did that this morning and was thrilled with the results. Finally, Hesser suggests that you rub the lemon zest into the sugar, and let it infuse overnight. I made these about 5 minutes after discovering the recipe, so I skipped that step, and they still tasted plenty lemony.
Grated zest of 2 lemons 1/3 cup sugar 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 cup finely ground oats (roughly 2/3-3/4 cup whole oats) 1/2 cup finely ground toasted almonds 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 cup milk 3 tablespoons melted butter 2 eggs, separated 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 cup ricotta, strained of any liquid
The day before, rub together the lemon zest and sugar in a bowl. Cover.
Mix the flours, lemon sugar, almonds, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk the milk, butter, egg yolks, vanilla and ricotta. Fold this into the dry ingredients. Whip the egg whites just until stiff, then fold them into the batter.
Heat a pancake griddle. Lightly coat the surface with butter, then use a 1/8-cup measure to scoop the batter. Cook until the pancakes appear dry around the edges, about 3 minutes, then flip them and cook for another minute or two. Serve with honey or dust with powdered sugar.