Ricotta cheese has been hogging the breakfast pancake spotlight for too long. It’s time to let another mass of curds have a chance. Enter, Quark. It’s the Ricotta of the German speaking countries. A beautiful, soft, mild cheese, most often compared to cottage cheese, but completely different to that lumpy mess. It’s a smooth, fresh-tasting, acid set whole milk cheese, and it’s my new best friend in the kitchen, and in these pancakes.
The creamy, soft cheese gives these pancakes a boost of protein, but more importantly, it renders them into silken disks, just poised and waiting for the topping of your choice. On the particular cloudy Saturday when I made these, I chose peaches and thyme. I always have peaches to use up in my fridge at this time of year, on account of my yearly summertime peach-bender. The peaches are so perfect, they barely need a minute in a hot pan with a little butter and a scattering of citrusy-savoury thyme before they’re good to go.
Maple syrup is, of course, non-negotiable. There is simply no room in my life for a pancake without maple syrup. It’s little compromises like that, which you can’t let seep into your life. If you want maple syrup, then dammit, you have to make it your business to make sure that syrup is got. That’s what life is about isn’t it? Trying to build the life you want, one syrup-laden pancake at a time? I think so.
Food is the canvas on which all of my deep thinking takes place, so you’ll have to forgive that metaphor, but it’s definitely true, I think. Going after what you want, and not settling for less is essential. And with that, let’s eat pancakes.
- ½ cup quark
- 2 eggs, separated
- ¾ cup (185ml) milk
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
- 1 cup (150g) plain flour
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- 2oz (50g) butter, melted
- 2-3 ripe peaches
- 2 tsp fresh thyme leaches, picked
- 1 tsp butter
- Maple syrup, to serve
- Place the quark, egg yolks (place the whites in a separate bowl), milk and vanilla into a mixing bowl and whisk together.
- Stir in the flour and baking powder until just combined (don't stress about lumps) and then fold through the butter.
- Throw the salt in with the egg whites, and whisk until they're foamy - don't worry about peaks or anything. Fold through the batter and put a large, heavy based non-stick pan on to heat.
- These pancakes cook fine without any oil in a non-stick pan, but I like to add a little butter (your call), and then ladle in heaping spoonfuls of the batter into the pan (about ¼ cup). Cook until bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake, and then flip and cook until the other side is golden brown.
- Continue until all the butter is used, cover with foil and keep warm while you make the peaches. Wash and cut the peaches into eighths, then finely chop the thyme. Melt the butter in the pan, add in the herbs and heat for a second, then add in the peaches and cook for a minute, or until they're just tender.
- Serve the pancakes with peaches, and plenty of maple syrup.