My Russian ricotta cheese pancakes recipe makes syrniki or farmer’s cheese pancakes. Crunchy outside and fluffy within, these scrummy Russian pancakes are traditionally made with tvorog or farmer’s cheese. Hard to find outside Europe or Russian diaspora communities, I’ve long made syrniki with ricotta and they’re just as delicious. Serve piping hot with sour cream, jams or stewed or fresh fruit.
This Russian ricotta cheese pancakes recipe makes syrniki or farmer’s cheese pancakes and while they’re typically called pancakes, these scrummy morsels, which are typically eaten as a breakfast treat, are more like a hybrid of American pancakes, fritters, pikelets, and baked cheesecake.
These cheesy little pancakes weren’t eaten every day at my grandparents’ home – my baboushka would typically make me an omelette or porridge for breakfast – but when she wanted to spoil me, she’d make any one of the many types of pancakes and fritters that Russians love so much.
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Now let me tell you about my Russian ricotta cheese pancakes.
Russian Ricotta Cheese Pancakes Recipe for Syrniki or Farmer’s Cheese Pancakes
These Russian ricotta cheese pancakes for syrniki aren’t traditionally made with ricotta cheese in Russia. It’s in the Russian diaspora that you’ll find ricotta, cottage cheese, quark, and/or cream cheese used. Or in fact, any combination of all those white cheeses.
‘Syr’ means cheese and syrniki have traditionally been made with a beloved Russian curd cheese called tvorog or farmer’s cheese. My baboushka translated it to English as ‘cream cheese’ when I was a child growing up in the western suburbs of Sydney.
My memory is not of cream cheese, however, but a firm-ish, sour-ish, salty-ish white cheese that was a cross between ricotta, cottage cheese, feta cheese, and cream cheese – another hybrid. Maybe it was the Australian take on tvorog?
Baba, who went shopping most mornings in Blacktown’s arcades (before there were gargantuan malls), in the same way that Europeans go to morning markets, would buy the cheese at one of several delicatessens she frequented that specialised in Eastern European cheeses and charcuterie.
She would use the tvorog to make vareniki as well. But not before she’d unwrapped the cheese – which was in a plastic bag, sitting in its juices, which in turn was wrapped carefully in a big sheet of butcher’s paper – and chop off a slice for me to savour. I could have happily eaten the whole block.
It’s impossible for me to find tvorog here in Cambodia, and even cottage cheese, feta cheese and cream cheese can be challenging, hence my use of ricotta. No tips for making these Russian ricotta cheese pancakes for syrniki. Just make sure you serve them piping hot, with your favourite fruit jam or stewed fruit, and sour cream of course.
Russian Ricotta Cheese Pancakes Recipe for Syrniki
- 40 g plain flour
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 20 g caster sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 180 g ricotta cheese
- 50 g cream cheese
- 1 tbsp sour cream optional
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- sour cream
- Sift 40 g flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl then add caster sugar and salt and combine.
- Add the cheeses and egg yolk and use a fork to incorporate, then, using a hand-mixer, beat until everything is thoroughly combined. The pancake batter should be sticky, not dry; if dry, add a tablespoon or two of sour cream.
- Generously dust your kitchen workspace with the rest of the flour, then, working quickly, scoop out 1 tablespoon of pancake batter, shape it into a round patty of 1cm thickness and 5-6cm in diameter, ensuring it’s coated completely in flour. Set aside on the floured surface.
- Repeat until you’ve used all the mixture, adding more flour to your work surface if necessary so the pancake patties don’t stick.
- Melt the butter and add the oil to a frying pan on medium heat. When it’s hot enough – test by adding a little of the mixture, which will sizzle when ready – transfer 3-4 patties and fry for a minute (or less) until golden brown, taking care not to burn them.
- Use a spatula to turn your pancakes over to cook the other side. They should be crispy on the outside but soft and fluffy within.
- Transfer them to a wire rack covered with a kitchen towel to soak up any excess oil, then repeat with the next batch, adding more butter and oil if needed.
- Dust the pancakes with icing sugar and serve immediately with sour cream and jam.
Please do let us know if you make this Russian ricotta cheese pancakes for syrniki as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.