Pumpkin Ricotta Pancakes with Ginger-Thyme Syrup


It has been awhile since I’ve pulled a recipe from my Grandmother’s recipe box to give it a whirl.  With all the vintage recipe collections I have, hers included, I usually take a look through them initially to pull out interesting seasonal recipes and queue them up for that particular season.  I like recipes with whole ingredients, and those that might be unique though feel able to translate to a current day palate.

Ricotta Pancakes are something I remember my Nana making as I was growing up when we’d  visit her in Northern California.  She and my Grandfather, Papa, had a flat in San Francisco where Papa worked and in the 1960’s built a weekend house in Pebble Beach (before it was ‘THE Pebble Beach’) where they’d spend the weekends for a number of decades.  It was in Pebble Beach, in their warmly wood-paneled great room she’d take the time to juice oranges from a groovy built-in juicing accessory in the counter top and make things like pancakes.  These were usually chatty breakfasts before we’d bundle up and walk the 20 minutes to the beach where I’d happily spend hours lost in tide pools and collecting shells on a sheltered beach I was sure no one else knew of (despite it being immediately below the parking lot for Seal Rock, a mandatory tourist bus stop).

I’m sure at the time it was very ‘nouveau’, putting ricotta cheese in a pancake!  I loved the light texture, distinct flavor and departure from regular ho-hum pancakes.  I’ve hung onto the recipe imagining it would pair well with something I would contribute, a homemade syrup, fruits; something.  It dawned on me this week with some extra freshly roasted pumpkin puree on hand that the flavor combination would be a lovely meeting of the two.  I was right.  It’s a perfect light flavor of each ricotta and pumpkin, neither over powering the other.

Nana would have called her personality ‘peppery’.  I would not call it that but though being a congenial and frequent hostess; in family conversations she did not mince a lot of words.  I guess I’d call her ‘economical’ with her verbiage.  She was of the ilk for instance that when a phone conversation was done, you hang up.  She would indulge me with a simple ‘goodbye’ but not prefaced with any warning such as “ok I need to be going now’.  Just ‘goodbye’ and it all was abruptly over.  This recipe card made me laugh, being so to the point.  In fact so much so there are no instructions.  It feels a bit like we are doing a trans-generational culinary relay race of sorts, leaving me to pick up where she left off to finish her vision!

The thing I probably love the most with vintage recipes, after the discovery of culinary traditions, is the feeling you get from reading people’s actual handwriting. In this case I know my Grandmother and Great Grandmother’s handwriting and love seeing it in their recipes.

Loving the flavors of the season I wanted to make my own syrup.  I never liked Maple Syrup as a child, though I do now.  My mother would stock Boysenberry Syrup I think made by Smuckers which I loved until High School when my Science teacher went on a tirade about having made jelly for Smuckers as a juvenile, taunting us with rugged tales of questionable ingredients and disgusting practices (who knows if it was real or perhaps a rouse to get us to pay attention to his lecture).  These days I enjoy making my own syrup when I can.  Realizing how easy it is to make my own syrup was an ‘ah ha’ for me and it affords completely unique combinations to suit my mood or dish.

In this case I made a Ginger-Thyme Syrup and found it perfect with the pancakes!  Warming and flavorful, it did not overpower the pancakes but partnered beautifully.  I will add I was unsure about the depth of flavor of the syrup being ‘kid friendly’ but was delighted when my 9 year old gave it the thumbs up and then asked to finish the batch of pancakes and syrup for his dinner.

Pumpkin Ricotta Pancakes

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 8 5-inch diameter pancakes

Serving Size: 2 pancakes per serving

These pancakes are lightly flavored with pumpkin, ricotta cheese and the spices of the fall season. Their texture is lighter than regular pancakes though filling. They can be made to be gluten free by using gluten free flour.


  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1 cup flour (gluten free or flour with gluten)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup milk (can be cow, soy, rice, almond)
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten


  1. Combine dry ingredients (baking powder, salt, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg) and stir to incorporate.
  2. In a separate small bowl combine the milk, ricotta cheese, pumpkin puree and eggs to incorporate.
  3. Add the wet to the dry ingredients stirring only until combine (do not over stir).
  4. Place pancake batter on a heated, greased griddle or heavy pan and allow bubbles to appear on top side before flipping and cooking the other side.



    • Toni | Boulder Locavore says

      Thanks Angie! The syrup is not too overpowering (I did not want the ginger to blast anyone’s head off as it can!) but a great partner with the pumpkin!

  1. says

    I love family recipes; such wonderful memories intertwined with food and family. I love pumpkin pancakes and the ricotta sounds so amazing – your Nana must have been quite the foodie in her day! It is obvious you take after her.

    This meal definitely sounds like a “Breakfast for Dinner” meal in my house.

    • Toni | Boulder Locavore says

      Awww…..thank you! I love the collection of recipes. Have one for spice cake my Great Grandmother copied down supposedly from the Washington Post addressing it to my Nana saying Papa would love it! Now I want to try it too! I’ve become smitten with cooking what they had in their collection and imagining all of us comparing multi-generational notes!

  2. says

    This looks so delicious (syrup included)…and it’s made all the more sweet by being a vintage family recipe. Nothing beats handwritten recipes from Nana! She sounds like a great lady. I am going to make this for brunch this weekend. After 7 months of commuting back-and-forth from Brooklyn to Denver, my husband got a job offer here! We are officially staying and becoming Coloradans. His last day of work in NYC is on Wednesday, then he boards a plane and joins us here! I think this is the perfect way to say “Welcome to Colorado” by the way “it’s fall!” Thanks for sharing.

  3. says

    These look and sound delicious. The flavors are so warm and comforting and the recipe is a classic. I love handwriting too, just not my own. 😉

  4. Toni | Boulder Locavore says

    From Boulder Locavore’s Facebook Page:

    Lisa Secco: That was one of the most amazing recipes for breakfast EVER! Made them today- just infused maple syrup with fresh ginger and fresh thyme though. I LOVE fall for the cooking opportunities and this recipe WILL be a showstopper for friends and family for the rest of my life WELL DONE My roommate and I devoured the whole recipe in minutes. Each bite was sublime.

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