Revisiting Tradition: Baked Latkes

Wouldn’t be Chanukah without latkes! However, the first time I made potato pancakes this year, they took two hours to prepare, ten minutes to eat, and two days to scrub the pan afterward. Wish I could say it was well worth it. Unfortunately, while they were delicious right out of the pan, by the time I was done frying them all, most were lukewarm and merely passable.

The eight nights of Chanukah commemorate a miracle in the history of the Jewish people. During the re-dedication of the temple following its desecration during Greek rule, there was only enough to oil to keep the light of the temple, which was to remain burning continuously, going for one more night. Yet miraculously, the oil lasted for eight nights until more oil was ready. In celebration, traditional foods for Chanukah are prepared in a lake of oil. Since this goes against the grain for me, I skimped severely on oil, which was probably to blame for both the muted taste and burnt-on grease.

I resolved to celebrate the Festival of Lights with lighter fare instead, so I gave these baked latkes from the Washington Post a try. (With a few slight adaptations of course.) Much healthier and easier to clean up. Couldn’t really compare to the taste of a classic latke, however. If you are craving that classic deep-fried taste, there’s also the option of “oven-frying” the latkes instead. (Thanks Jenn, of Once Upon A Chef, for such a clear guide.) While not a healthier alternative, it is still more convenient than frying them in batches on the stove. Best of all, whichever option you choose, you can enjoy them all piping hot rather than an hour later when the last latke is finally fried. You can keep latkes warm or reheat in the oven if necessary, but they are much better served immediately. Happy Chanukah!

UPDATE (12/27/2016): Made a batch of “oven fried latkes” this year… straightforward and without any splattering oil I was nervous about. Nice to be able to stick them all in the oven and have some time to focus on getting together the rest of the meal together. I think I liked them even better the next morning. Can’t sing their praises enough… definitely the way to go!

BakedLatkesPlate

“Festival of Lights” Baked Latkes
Makes 12-16 potato pancakes

2 pounds potatoes (about 3-6)

1 small onion

2 tablespoons flour (or potato starch or other gluten-free flour)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 egg

1 tablespoon oil

Applesauce and sour cream or yogurt

Grate potatoes into a colander. Sprinkle with salt and let sit 10 minutes, then squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Place in a large bowl, then grate and squeeze onion and add to bowl. Beat in an egg. Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl, then mix thoroughly into potato mixture. Line baking sheets with parchment paper if available, then grease with oil and press spoonfuls of the batter into thin disks on the sheet. Bake at 425ºF for 12 minutes, then flip latkes over and switch the position of the baking sheets. Bake an additional 10 minutes, until crispy and golden brown. Serve hot, topped with applesauce and sour cream or yogurt. Yum!

Classic Oven-Fried Latkes
Makes 12-16 potato pancakes

2 pounds potatoes (about 3-6)

1 teaspoon salt

1 small onion

2 eggs

2-3 tablespoons flour (or potato starch or other gluten-free flour)

1 cup oil

Applesauce and sour cream or yogurt

Peel potatoes, then grate them into a colander. Salt and let sit for 10 minutes, then squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Mix with egg, salt, onion, and flour in a bowl. Spread 1/2 cup oil over each baking pan and place in a 425ºF oven for 10 minutes to preheat the oil. Press spoonfuls of batter onto the pan to form latkes, and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the bottoms are crisp and golden. Flip latkes with tongs, switch position in oven, and bake an additional 10 minutes or so. Drain on paper towels (or don’t bother, if you are lazy like me) and serve hot, topped with applesauce and sour cream or yogurt.

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This entry was posted in Casseroles and Baked Dishes, Flops with Promise, Holidays and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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