It’s traditional for fried foods to be served during Hannukah, celebrating oil in memory of the miracle (a small amount of lamp oil lasting for eight days instead of just one) that started the holiday. Latkes and sufganiyot (doughnuts) are two of the most popular items, staples at just about every Hannukah party/celebration. Both are tasty, but I am a particular fan of latkes. The potato pancakes are deliciously crispy and, when served with applesauce and sour cream, immensely satisfying. They are also not the healthiest thing you can eat during the holidays. A little indulgence is not a bad thing, but I prefer to make an oven-baked version for snacking at home.
I’ve been making this recipe for quite some time now. My pet peeve with baked latkes is that they are often either undercooked or not crispy at all. I avoid both of these pitfalls by making the latkes fairly thin, so that they cook all the way through, and by baking them at a high temperature to ensure that they crisp up well. I use spray cooking oil to grease my pan, but there is no oil in the latkes themselves, just a mixture of potatoes, onions, egg, flour and seasoning. I tend to season generously with salt and pepper, as potatoes can be a bit bland, adding 1/2-1 tsp of salt per batch. Overall, I think that they’re a good substitute for the “real” thing, with a lot of good potato flavor.
These pancakes should be served hot, within an hour of being baked, for maximum crispness. If you want to serve them at a party, you can make mini pancakes with the same potato mixture, but since the baking time may need to be adjusted, bake a test batch before hand to make sure you don’t overcook (i.e. burn) any minis.
1 1/2-lbs. russet/baking potatoes (or Yukon Gold)
1 small, sweet onion
1 large egg
1 tsp baking powder
salt and pepper, to taste (approx 1/2 tsp salt)
3 tbsp all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease with oil or cooking spray.
Wash and dry potatoes (no need to peel) and grate, using a coarse grater. Peel onion and grate with coarse grater.
Combine potato and onion in a colander or sieve and press down firmly to remove excess moisture. Transfer to a medium sized bowl and stir in egg, baking powder, flour, salt and pepper.
Drop potato mixture onto prepared baking baking sheet, forming 3-4 inch pancakes that are about 1/4-1/3 inch thick (each pancake will probably take about 3 tbsp of potato mixture).
Bake for 20 minutes, until the bottom of the pancakes are light brown. Turn pancakes over and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until pancakes are golden and cooked through.
Served immediately, or shortly after baking, with apple sauce and sour cream.
Makes about 12 large latkes.
Note: The pancakes will have one smooth side (pictured above) and one bumpier side, simply because it is how they cook. If you want to get a really smooth, golden color to them, spread the oil/cooking spray around with a paper towel on the baking sheet; if you just spray on the oil, the pancakes will be a bit less even in color.