Two-Toned Potato Pancakes (Latkes)

December 21, 2008


Today began like most other mornings:  a wet, cold nose against my ear (that would be Chaser, not the HH) rousing me from sleep; a quick (warm, dry) kiss to the HH; and popping (okay, more like fizzling) out of bed before stretching, going through the usual ablutions and tramping over to the office to turn on the computer and check out some blogs.  For our lazy Sunday morning (after shovelling the additional 15 cm./ 6 inches of snow that arrived overnight, of course), I thought I might make some pancakes for breakfast–maybe banana; maybe apple.

Then I read Ruth’s Hannukah (or, for us Canadians, Chanukah) post and before I knew it, I was craving potato pancakes (aka latkes). 

Which is weird, because I hate latkes.

Let me explain.  Over the years, I’ve sampled many different kinds of potato latkes in many different kitchens; and I can honestly tell you I haven’t enjoyed a single one. (Sorry, Mrs. D who kindly invited me to her Rosh Hashanah table back in university; sorry, all my friends who’ve been generous enough to share; sorry, Aunty M. and CBC; sorry, all those caterers whose miniature pancakes I’ve sampled at festive tables in the past). 

Given that I adore home fries and even hash browns, this latke enmity always seemed odd to me.  But whenever I’d try again, the results were the same: the pancakes in question were very heavy, very greasy, and fairly bland, with a high-gloss exterior and mushy, mealy insides.  Was I missing something?  Is there some kind of Freemason-like secret latke society that knows something those of us using the regular latke recipes don’t know? Or was I simply hanging around with horrible cooks?

Whatever; I decided to change all that this morning.  That plate of latkes (and the explanatory article that Ruth included, as well) simply caught my fancy, and I had to have latkes!


After a quick tour using Veg Blog Search, I uncovered a large selection of options.  There were traditional potato latkes, those made entirely from sweet potatoestraditional latkes with cool toppings, and a whole bunch of trail-blazing atypical latkes. I decided to base my own version on Bryanna’s fat-free potato and sweet potato pancakes.  I loved the combination of both types of spud, both for color and nutrition, and I thought a lower-fat version would be good at this time of year as well (I did add 2 Tbsp./15 ml. olive oil to the mixture to enhance the flavors a little).  This was also the perfect excuse to use my cast iron skillet yet once more–something I’ve been doing at every available opportunity the past few weeks as I endeavor to render it truly non-stick (so far, no luck).

I’m happy to report that the Latke Loathing has been vanquished, once and for all! (Must have been those sweet potatoes). The HH was also a fan.  We had ours with a slightly unconventional topping, a balsamic-fig sauce that was given to me a few weeks back  (more typical accompaniments include sour cream or applesauce).  What a fabulous combination!  The cakes were decidedly not mushy, as I remembered latkes of old; they were crispy on the outside and supple on the inside, the potatoes just cooked.  They held together beautifully and offered up an alluring aroma of caramelized onion and fragrant dill as they were grilled. With the sweet-tart contrast of the fig sauce slathered over the top, these were the perfect Sunday breakfast. 

Now, it seems the Sunday pancake options are limitless. So glad I start my days the way I do. 

To those who celebrate, Happy Hannukah!  (and Hanukkah, AND Chanukah!) 🙂

Two-Toned Potato Latkes

adapted from Notes from the Vegan Feast Kitchen


While we ate these for breakfast, latkes are more often eaten as a side dish or appetizer with savory foods.  They’re great both ways.

3 small white or Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and grated

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and grated

1 large onion, grated

2 Tbsp. (10 ml.) extra virgin olive oil

3/4 cup (110 g.) kamut flour or (100 g.) whole spelt flour

2 tsp. (10 ml.) baking powder

3/4 tsp. (7.5 ml.) fine sea salt

1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) finely ground flax seeds

2 Tbsp. (10 ml.) water

1 tsp. (5 ml.) garlic powder

1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) dried dill weed

1/2 tsp. (2. 5 ml.) smoked paprika

Using a food processor or box grater, grate the potatoes and sweet potatoes and place in a large colander.  Squeeze the mixture with your hands as if squeezing a sponge to get out as much of the starchy liquid as you can.  Place in a large bowl.

Grate the onion and add it to the potato mixture along with the remaining ingredients.  Mix together very well, using your hands if necessary.

Heat a cast iron or other nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Using a large ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop the mixture into the pan, flattening the pancakes with a spatula (they should be fairly flat).  Cook about 3-4 minutes, until bottoms are golden; flip and cook on the other side another 3 minutes or so, until golden.  Keep pancakes warm as you continue to cook them.  Serve immediately with apple sauce, sour cream, ketchup, cranberry sauce, chutney, or other topping of choice.

Last Year at this Time: Last Minute Christmas Cookie [Sugar-Free Sugar Cookies]

© 2008 Diet, Dessert and Dogs


27 Responses to “Two-Toned Potato Pancakes (Latkes)”

  1. VeggieGirl Says:

    I LOVE latkes, but normally just eat them with applesauce – love your topping for them!!

  2. Vegetation Says:

    And here I was thinking I was the only person in the world who crawled out of bed and started checking out blogs first thing 😛

    Mmmmm latkes, they look amazing!

  3. Shelby Says:

    I’m polish so potato pancakes are a favorite of mine. I used to go to this completely polish restaurant and they would serve the BEST potato pancakes in the world. I would eat tons of the in one sitting, that was usually all I had in my meal there (it was a buffet-style place). They were smooth on the outside and perfectly cooked on the inside. Mmm, I want some now!

  4. I’ve never had latkes before and I will definitely try those! They seem so versatile as well.

  5. Lisa Says:

    I just made potato pancakes too – a spicy version of course! I love the balsamic fig sauce idea.

  6. BitterSweet Says:

    We just finished making our latkes for a dinner party tonight, and now they’re staying warm in the oven, but I wish I had seen this post first! I love how colorful the results are.

  7. Courtney Says:

    My aunt used to make the BEST (non-vegan) latkes each Hanukkah. I have tried to make them once, with disastrous results! Your version sounds really good–I think I will try again!

    I feel your pain…we got 8 inches of snow here yesterday, and the wind chill today is near -40 (yes, that is NEGATIVE 40)! Burrr! Shoveling the snow is not exactly my idea of fun either…


  8. Andrea Says:

    I love latkes now that the egg is gone. I never used to like the eggy taste in traditional potato pancakes.

    The part I don’t like is standing at the stove cooking while everyone else sits at the table eating! I’ve been meaning to try an oven version, but yours is very tempting. I’ll bet the dill is great.

  9. Ricki Says:

    It was unusual, but good! 🙂

    I’ve been hooked since way back. 😉 And no shame, either, since I read about the experiences of this blogger.

    Those actually sound good to me now, that I’ve tasted some non-greasy latkes! Yum.

    I bet you could use almost any grated veggie along with the potatoes–hmm! Must try that. .. 😉

    I saw yours and thought they sounded really good–now that I’m okay with latkes, I will give them a go! 🙂

    I’m sure yours will be delicious! Besides, I guess the potato-only ones really are more traditional for the holidays.

    Yes, you should give them a try! And I think your snow beats ours! MINUS FORTY??? How awful! Hunker down inside and keep warm!

    I bet that’s it! It must have been the eggy-potato combo that I didn’t like! Or maybe eggs just absorbed grease, or something. . . I’m a big fan of dill, so I loved it, but I’m guessing you could leave it out with no ill effects. 😉

  10. Johanna Says:

    glad you are over the latka loathing – these look similar to what I was planning to make for dinner tonight and just further inspiration – and I love the idea of these for breakfast – look suitably warming and comforting for a chilly morning

  11. Lisa Says:

    We love potato pancakes! We have a large Polish population in NE PA, and they are THE thing to get at the local church picnics. People wait in line for an hour or more (literally) for potato pancakes.

  12. Oh if only I were a more experienced (read: less lazy) blogger– I’d whip these up in an instant!

  13. Lisa Says:

    Those potato pancakes look so yummy. The addition of sweet potatoes is pretty and also sounds tasty and intriguing. What’s more, I love the idea of a balsamic fig sauce. Way to go!

  14. TJ Says:

    Love potatoes – any way, shape or form! These are similar to my Mock Whitebait Fritters but with a different flavour. They look perfect!

  15. these really do look perfectly browned and crispy! Nice photos.

  16. Any excuse to use chutney is good eating for me. 🙂

    That HH is a lucky guy!

  17. ttfn300 Says:

    i don’t know which got me more excited, the looks of these latkes or the balsamic fig sauce!! haha, probably the sauce 🙂 i haven’t had many latkes, but these look fantastic!

  18. giz Says:

    Happy Chanukkah Ricki – funny – I never liked the mushy interior either but then discovered the right potatoes to use and to make sure they’re completely drained of liquid and love them with coarsely grated onion. Yours look amazing and they’d be fabulous with sweet potatoes. I don’t think I could give up the sour cream topping.

  19. jessy Says:

    wow! i don’t think i’ve ever had latkes – i feel like i’m missing out! these sound wonderful, Ricki – and they look absolutely beautiful, too! totally printing out the recipe – i can’t wait to try them! thank you!

  20. Celine Says:

    I’ve never had latkes. I am so not well-traveled when it comes to certain foods, by golly.
    I wish you the best holidays, Ricki! it’s a treat to count you as a friend.

  21. Sharon Says:

    Wow, those look delicious! That is awesome – thanks for sharing!

  22. Maureen Says:

    I’ve never, ever had latkes! I’d like to try this recipe, though. Yum!

  23. Monika K Says:

    Potato anything sounds fantastic right now (I’m starving!). Your latkes look picture perfect – happy holidays!

  24. shellyfish Says:

    I am the biggest latke fan ever in the entire world! I will be making these once I’m back home!

  25. Judie Says:

    I would love to have you share this with my readers:


  26. I’ve never kad latkes in my life! They look so perfectly crispy! I’m potatoes’ number one fan, so I’ll be making these really soon! Thanks for sharing!

  27. Vegyogini Says:

    I made oil-free latkes this year, too, and also liked them for the first time ever! Mine were potato-parsnip and based on the Candle Cafe cookbook. Yum!

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