BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

A Hannukah Miracle

33 Comments

Take it as evidence that I’m a bad Jew, if you must, but the rumors are true; I had never made latkes before. Picture thin shreds of white potato that have sopped up gallons of oil and yet remain pale and flaccid, to be served with dairy-rich sour cream or overly sweetened apple sauce- Can you blame my resistance? Admittedly, the latkes my parents painstakingly make every year are never like this, but out of laziness and sheer stubbornness, I refused to remove my blinders and give them a chance. Despite the connection I felt to the ritual of their preparation, I found myself unmoved, year after year. Working as a tag team, my mom in the kitchen working with the raw ingredients, my dad out back doing flame-control, the smell of smoke and canola oil permeating the air, it’s this tradition that epitomizes the Hannukah experience to me. That’s why we’re unofficially pushing back the date of celebration, so that my dad can be home to fry them like usual. Whether that means standing outside at the grill in the snow, rain, or just freezing cold, it doesn’t matter. He knows that the hungry hordes need their crispy, golden brown latkes, and there’s no way on earth we’re deep frying that much potato matter inside the house.

And there starts my prejudice; Anything that requires cooking outside of the kitchen must be too much of a hassle. What with all the holiday cookies to bake, why waste time making boring old potato pancakes anyway? Deep fried food doesn’t disagree with me per say, but it loses quite a few brownie points if I’m the one doing the frying. Who wants third degree burns as a holiday parting gift? That’s why, with the actual Hannukah week free and clear, I stuck to what I know best and fired up the oven, set on breaking my latke-less streak at last.

Notice, these are baked latkes, not fat-free; They still need ample lubrication to prevent sticking and tearing. Most notable, however, is not the method by which these nouveau potato pancakes are cooked, but the subtle flavors I chose to wake up these potentially snooze-worthy staples. Taking inspiration from Chinese scallion pancakes, short ribbons of green onion are woven amongst the strands of potato, punctuated by the gentle warmth of ginger. Sure, purists may turn up their noses, but these nontraditional spud bundles have made me a convert. Latkes can be a beautiful (and yes, delicious) thing, when treated with a little extra love and attention. And yes, please, go ahead and fry them if you prefer. Just keep that vat of hot oil far away from me.

Baked Scallion-Ginger Latkes

1 1/2 Pounds White or Gold Potatoes
2 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
3/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Generous Bundle Scallions (about a dozen), Cut into 1-Inch Pieces
1 Tablespoon Minched Fresh Parsley
1 1/2 Tablespoons Finely Minced Fresh Ginger
1/4 Cup Garbanzo Flour
1 Tablespoon Flax Seeds, Ground
1/4 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

2 – 4 Tablespoons Canola Oil

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and use 1 or 2 tablespoons of the canola oil to generously grease a baking sheet. Don’t be shy; you need to really smear it on so that nothing stick later.

Peel and grate the potatoes, placing them in a colander in the sink or set over a large bowl. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and salt, to prevent browning and extract some of the water, and let sit for 5 – 10 minutes. Squeeze the potato shreds with your hands to extract the excess water. Don’t be shy, really wring those spuds out, because too much water now will mean less crispy latkes later. Transfer the significantly drier potatoes into a [dry] large bowl.

Cut the scallions into one-inch lengths, and add to the potato. If your scallions are on the chunkier side, slice them in halves or quarters first. Add in the parsley, ginger, flour, ground flax, and pepper, and toss to combine.

Scoop out about 1/4 cup of potato mixture for each latke, and use your hands to really press it all together. Place each latke on the prepared sheet fairly close together since they don’t spread. Flatten each mound down as thin as possible to get crispier results. Brush the tops of the pancakes with 1 – 2 tablespoons of oil, and again, don’t be skimpy about it. Side your sheet of latkes into the oven, and bake for 20 minutes. At that point, flip them all over, and bake for another 15 – 20 minutes, until golden brown. Serve immediately, with vegan sour cream if desired.

You can also make them ahead of time; Prepare as stated up to this point, but let them cool completely. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge until you’re ready to serve, and then just pop them in the toaster oven to warm through.

Makes 8 – 12 Medium-Sized Latkes

Printable Recipe

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Author: Hannah Kaminsky

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

33 thoughts on “A Hannukah Miracle

  1. Hannah, these sound so much better than regular, run-of-the-mill potato pancakes (which I love, mind you). The thing I hate is standing at the stove frying my butt off while everyone else eats! I will try your oven cakes, with all the add-ins. Thanks!

  2. Mmm… these look really tasty (and since I’m petrified of deep-frying anything, baking seems like an awesome alternative).

  3. I love latkes! Great idea to bake them. I also steer clear of deep-frying, preferring to bake traditionally deep-fried foods.

  4. Brava, Hannah! Baked latkes? You are a genius.

  5. Great alternative! I can’t bring myself to deep fry anything.. not only is it so unhealthy, it seems soooo wasteful and tedious. bleh.

    These are much better.

  6. Your latkes look so lovely and crispy! I love them,but have to avoid them as I now try to avoid carbs as much as I can…

  7. I would much much much rather have these. Although I do love a good deep fried latke! Man it is a GOOD thing that Hanukkah only comes once a year!

  8. You ARE a genius, Hannah!! I hate the lingering “fried food smell”. This definitely solves that!!

  9. This looks great- and it is gluten free! I remember latkas fondly from my childhood. Have you ever recreated mandle bread? I would like to find a GF and vegan version. Those were about the only two traditional Jewish foods I liked. Ohh and maybe kugel. Thanks for sharing!

  10. I have never had latkes before, but I could totally get into your variation!

  11. Those look delicious! I’ve only had latkes once, one of my teachers in middle school brought her mother in and made them in class to teach us a bit about Hannukuh.

  12. Yummers! I will admit that I do like deep fried stuff if it’s not greasy but that’s tricky to accomplish. Gonna do this, for sure.

  13. Gosh, if someone is going to fuss over 2-4 tablespoons of oil, then they clearly aren’t a me who eats a hefty dose of chocolate every day and revels in baked goods ;) Love the flavour twists you’ve got going here, too! Ginger and garbanzo flour, whacko! Perhaps I’ll have to try latkes for the first time soon too…

  14. These look great! I love latkes (I love anything potato) but I have only made them once – I am not a fan of spluttering hot oil either! The thought of baking them makes me happy.

  15. Now you can feel better about making the latkes. They look really good and I like that they are baked.

  16. Latkes remind me of Indian ‘Aloo Tikka”, which are fried potato patties served with super-saucy garbanzo beans, tamarind chutney, and some other chutney-type thing I can’t remember. I like the Indian version, I thought latkes would be similarly edible. I’m a bad Hindu, in the sense that I don’t make those special holidayish fried things at home either. Like you, I hate the smell! I was thinking of baking samosas somehow instead of frying them.
    Your baked latkes sound delicious, and look it too.

  17. oh how fabulous! I love latkas but always feel guilty eating them, this version is much more my speed :)

  18. Happy Hannukah, Hannah!

    No, those poor latkes. I mean those you described neglecting. I am glad you finally gave in. Okay, I am a huge latke fan. These look great.

  19. Ooh! Those look much better than the dripping-with-oil-so-much-that-your-paper-plate-is-see-through latkes I’ve had in the past! I love that you put ginger and scallions in them, too. I’m not Jewish, but I think I may have to make some of these :)

  20. what beauties! I’ve never made latkes…but eaten many! Although I’m not jewish, they still hold a warm place in my heart.

  21. Hey, this recipe came out great! I’ve been trying to make non-greasy latkes and these are awesome and light. I also really like using the flax instead of the ener-g egg replacer. I subbed lime juice for lemon, and it worked great. I also knit 2 kiwi birds for a vegan kid recently, and she loved ‘em. Thanks for the food and knitting inventions :)

  22. They look perfectly crispy without all the hassle of a deep fryer. I bet I would love these since I love scallion pancakes!

  23. Hannah, I haven’t had latkes for a long time…and absolutely love the baked version of it…looks delicious :-)

  24. I’ve been looking for exciting new ways to jazz up my latkes this year, baking+scallions+garbanzo flour is totally the way I’m going. thanks for the inspiration!

  25. Must stop looking at your blog at 1am!

    These look sooooo good!

  26. Oh I have to make these….I love the idea of baked latkes!! Happy Hanukkah! (Do you think they will work on those silpat sheets instead of greasing a cookie sheet???)

  27. I’ve never had latkes! they look really good!

  28. Awesome twist on latkes! Love the flavors and it’s baked too! :-)

  29. I don’t think I’ve made OR eaten latkes before but I love the idea of potatoes and scallions in a crispy pancake. Mmm.

  30. One of my most favorite foods… latkes! These look fabulous.

  31. A gluten free snack too! Those latkes look so tasty!

  32. Just thought that I’d let you know that I mentioned your latkes on my most recent blog post. :-) http://newmanimproved.blogspot.com/2010/12/food-to-celebrate-jewish-heritage.html

  33. I wish I had a big plate of these right now! I love latkes.

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