The Italians have a little expression for things that are ugly but good – brutto ma buono.
It’s a great expression because as much we love dainty little cakes, exquisitely formed croquembouches, tall soufflés and delicate dumplings, there is something comforting and satisfying about a dark, hearty stew, rock cakes, mash potato or a velvety curry.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for quality presentation. There are days though when I struggle to plate up a meal so that it looks as good as it tastes, and it’s not always because of my culinary shortcomings.
These hotcakes are brutto ma buono. The don’t look like much from the outside – misshapen pancakes that give away nothing about their flavour. But they will surprise you.
They are fluffy and light yet substantial enough for Sunday brunch. Not saccharine sweet but lightly perfumed with vanilla and hints of citrus. They are super easy to make and are equally good served plain or topped with syrup/ coulis and berries. The best bit is that this recipe is very forgiving so you won’t need your atomic scales or spirit level.
Have a go – you’ll be so glad you did!
Lemony Ricotta Hotcakes – makes about 8
You will need
- 1½ cups self-raising flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda (also called bicarbonate of soda/ soda bicarbonate)
- ¼ cup caster sugar
- zest of half a lemon
- 1 cup buttermilk (or try this buttermilk substitute)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 50 gm salted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- ½ cup ricotta cheese, lightly whisked
- icing sugar, fruit coulis or your favourite syrup to serve
- Sift the flour and baking soda into a large mixing bowl
2. Place the sugar in a separate small bowl and gently rub the lemon zest into the sugar using your fingers. This will release the oils from the rind and perfume the sugar
8. Cook about two tablespoonfuls of batter at a time (depending on the size of your pan), flipping once the bottom turns a lovely golden brown (about a minute). Don’t worry if the hotcakes don’t keep shape perfectly when flipped – a thicker batter would produce neater circles but doesn’t taste as good.
Make sure the insides are cooked through (not oozy)
9. Serve hot with a dusting of icing sugar or toppings of your choice including a cheek of fresh lemon and more icing sugar
*The consistency of the batter should be thick but not doughy. Ricotta can vary between manufacturers so you may find you need to add a tiny bit more flour if the ricotta is more ‘wet’. If so, take care to add the flour a tablespoonful at a time, stirring and checking the consistency after each addition.
So, do you have a favourite brutto ma buono dish?
Why do you love it?