Recipe Sleuth: Art and Soul’s Lemon-Yogurt Pancakes With Mascarpone Butter

Planning to bring your mom breakfast in bed this Sunday? Make her these (kinda healthy) pancakes, one of our favorite morning meals in Washington.

Chef Art Smith’s lemon-yogurt pancakes, named in honor of Gayle King, Oprah’s best friend. Photograph by Erik Uecke.

Chef Art Smith’s lemon-yogurt pancakes have a devoted following, from brunchgoers at Art and Soul to Oprah’s best friend, Gayle King. Talk-show host King first sampled the pillowy pancakes during Smith’s ten-year stint as Oprah’s personal chef, and she raved about them so much that Smith named the dish after her.

While twists on traditional pancakes can be overly sweet, Smith’s rendition is both lighter and brighter: Lemon-infused honey replaces slicks of syrup, and airy mascarpone butter substitutes for the traditional pat. It’s possible to make the dish richer using whole-fat yogurt and milk, but Smith—who lost more than 100 pounds after a diabetes diagnosis—says that low-fat is equally satisfying. Smith likes to add two or three slices of high-quality bacon—he’s partial to Benton’s brand—that have been cooked in a 400-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Both the lemon-honey and the mascarpone-butter recipes make more than a few servings require, but they keep covered in the fridge. Even the batter can be made a week ahead, which means you could start mixing it now for Mother’s Day brunch.

Gayle’s Lemon-Yogurt Pancakes With Lemon Honey and Mascarpone Butter
Makes 10 to 12 pancakes

Make the lemon-infused honey:
Makes 2 cups

2 cups honey
1½ lemons, zested and juiced
½ teaspoon salt

Stir ingredients together and set aside.

Make the mascarpone butter:
Makes about 2 cups

1 cup salted butter at room temperature
¾ cup mascarpone cheese

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and mascarpone on medium speed until smooth. Store, covered, in the fridge.

Make the pancakes:

¼ cup plain yogurt
½ tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
½ tablespoon grated lemon zest, plus more for serving
¼ cup fresh lemon juice, from about 2 lemons
1⁄8 cup milk, or more as needed (same note as yogurt)
½ cup self-rising flour (you can substitute ½ cup all-purpose flour, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¾ teaspoon baking powder, mixed together)
1 tablespoon sugar
Vegetable oil for greasing the pan
Confectioner’s sugar for serving

In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, melted butter, egg, lemon zest, lemon juice, and milk and beat well with a whisk or electric mixer. Add the flour and sugar. Stir carefully until incorporated, but don’t overmix. (Add more milk if the batter is too thick. It should have the consistency of a loose milkshake.)

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees. Heat a griddle or nonstick pan over medium-high heat, and add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or butter. To see if the griddle or pan is hot enough, throw in a little batter. You should hear a light sizzle but shouldn’t smell or see smoke.

When the griddle or pan is ready, pour in silver-dollar-size pancakes. Watch for little bubbles to form on the surface, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Keep the pancakes in the oven until you’re ready to serve.

Serve warm with a drizzle of lemon-infused honey and 1 to 2 tablespoons of mascarpone butter. Garnish with confectioner’s sugar and grated lemon zest to taste.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.