Latke Trials: My Search For the Ultimate Latke

I have decided to run latke experiments this Chanukah, for the betterment of mankind.  Out of the goodness of my heart, I will suffer through plate after plate of latkes this week.  I know, it’s a tough job but somebody has to do it.  I will take one for the team here.

UPDATE: After just finishing this post, I really want to stress to you the importance of trying my third latke recipe at the end.  It was the best, IMHO…and my family agreed.

Latke Trial 1:

I normally make the shredded latke, so I opted to do something a tad different here.  I wanted to make the creamy centered, crisp lacey edged variety of latke that some of my friends make.  I opted to try to bind them with my usual eggs and to try rice flour in lieu of my usual all-purpose flour or matzo meal.  I really enjoyed the results, but I will add a bit of baking powder just to lighten them a bit on my next trial.

Pro: gluten free, easy to make, no annoying grating, quick clean up, crisp Lacey texture, creamy center, perfect round shape.

Cons:  my family missed their usual shreds, slightly dense center texture when not perfectly fresh out of the oil.

Latke Trials Latke 1 in the mixing bowl

Latke Trials Latke 1 in the pan

Latke Trials Latke 1 ready to serve

Lacey Latkes (Gluten Free)

  • 2 medium-large Russet potatoes
  • 1 medium onion (white or yellow, non-sweet variety)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Vegetable or canola oil for frying

Cut potatoes and onion into small pieces.  Pulse many times in a food processor until the texture of thick applesauce.  Add the eggs, rice flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.  Pulse to combine.

Heat a large skillet (or 2, like I do) over medium heat with about 1/4 inch of oil.  When oil is hot, add spoonfuls of the batter to the hot oil, leaving about an inch between latkes.  Wait until edges are a deep golden brown to flip.  Flip and remove to drain on paper towels when browned on both sides.  Keep warm in a 250 degree oven until ready to serve.  Serve with sour cream and/or applesauce.

Latke Trial 2:

Okay, night two, and all the surfaces in my kitchen have the subtle, sticky sheen of oil upon them. Oy vey! Time to recap my second experiment. I thought these were pretty delicious, but my daughter was appalled that I put a little bit of scallion in them, because G-d forbid she consume anything green. So help me.

The idea behind these latkes was to combine the first latke for the creamy center, but to add some shreds for texture. I became consumed with the idea that the shreds would not cook in the center, so I opted to make them very fine shreds. This might have been a mistake, because they were not much different than the first ones, though definitely a slight improvement.

I shredded one potato on a microplane style fine grater.

Latke Trial 2 Micro Shredded potatoes

Then I made my purée of potato, onion, egg, rice flour, baking powder and salt.  I added about 1/2 tablespoon of A-P flour, because I just can’t leave well enough alone….

Latke Trial 2 Ingredients

I dropped in some pepper and sliced scallions this time, but never again…It lead to what I now call “Scallion-gate”.  We will never speak of it hence forth.

Mixed the shreds with the puree and fried the babies up.  Eureka!

Latke Trial 2 ready to serve

I really loved these!  My son was totally into them.  My hubby is totally over the latke experiment, as it is ruining his low-carb diet.  Oops!  Finally, my daughter took one bite, saw green, and freaked the hell out.  So, mixed reviews…

Crisp and Creamy Latkes

  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 1 large cooking onion
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup rice flour or AP flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon All Purpose flour (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced (if you dare)
  • oil for frying- I used vegetable oil

Cut 1 potato and onion into smaller pieces.  Place pieces in blender (if you have a vitamix) or food processor.  Blend into puree with egg, salt, baking powder, flours.  Pour into a bowl and fold in pepper and scallions.

Grate remaining potato with a medium microplane grater.  It will take a while-sorry! Next, mix potato shreds into the puree mixture.

Heat oil over medium to medium-high heat in a large skillet.  Drop around a tablespoon into the hot oil to form latkes, being careful not to crowd the pan.  Flip when edges become a deep golden brown.  When both sides are completely brown, remove latkes to drain on paper towels.  Keep warm in a 250 degree oven, if not serving immediately.  Serve with sour cream and/or applesauce.

On deck is my classic shredded recipe, but I think I want to play with a small amount of the puree still.  I can’t give up the idea of mixing…

Latke Trial 3:

The shredded, but with a twist.  These are a tad more involved than my usual shredded potato latke.  I am trying to combine both types of latkes, plus add some bread crumbs (because I don’t happen to have matzo meal on hand). I read an article yesterday about how using flour creates a gummy texture, and how matzo meal is the way to go.  It supposedly binds without becoming mush.  I am deciding to substitute bread crumbs, because A. I am not a fan of matzo meal and B. I think it should have the same effect.

I decided to split the difference with the shreds vs. puree.  I am puree-ing 1/2 of one potato and 1/2 of the onion with the regular blade in my food processor for these.  Then, I switched the blade and shredded the rest of the potatoes (1 1/2).  I then decided to chop the remaining 1/2 onion for texture and more of an onion hit.

Latke Trial 3 shredded potaotes

Then I added 1/4 cup bread crumbs,1/2 teaspoon baking powder,  1 tablespoon potato starch, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1 whole egg, plus 1 egg white.

Latke Trial 3 in the frying pan

I decided to do three things differently during frying.  1.  I used about double the oil to ensure complete 360 degree crispness.  2. I made them a bit thicker than usual.  3. I resisted the urge to press them down.

Perfection In Latke Form

Perfection In Latke Form

Ingredients

  • 2 medium-large russet potatoes, do not peel
  • 1 large cooking onion
  • 1 whole egg and 1 egg white
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs, matzo meal, or cracker meal
  • 1 tablespoon potato starch
  • Canola or vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, puree 1/2 of 1 potato and 1/2 onion until the texture of thick apple sauce.  
  2. Switch blades to the shredder disk.  
  3. Shred remaining 1 1/2 potatoes.  
  4. Chop remaining onion.  
  5. Put everything into a large mixing bowl.  
  6. Add egg and egg white, salt, pepper, baking powder, bread crumbs, and potato starch.  
  7. Stir well.  
  8. As mixture sits, liquid will collect. Just stir liquid back into mixture before scooping for latkes.
  9. Heat 1/2 inch oil to 360-375 degrees in a large skillet.  
  10. Scoop about 3 tablespoons latke mixture into oil.  
  11. Do not press down (can gently flatten just the top a bit).  
  12. Let cook until the edges turn a deep golden brown.  
  13. Flip and cook on the other side until browned and crisp all around.  
  14. Drain on paper towels.
  15. Serve immediately with apple sauce and/or sour cream.
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*Just finished eating these, and they were literally the best latkes ever!  I am pretty sure I just revolutionized my latke technique for life.  Try them and let me know what you think.

P.S.  I know some of you like to hand grate, but I actually think that the food processor does a better job and comes out crispier with less damage to the potato shreds’ cellular integrity (that sounds so scientific- not even sure if it is a thing).  Feel free to do this recipe with a hand grater, if desired.

P.P.S.  I also realized that the latke style you grew up with will always be your favorite.  There is a certain comfort food nostalgia that latkes bring about in people.  I am pretty sure that there are as many perfect latkes as there are Jewish people in the world, and that is just the way it should be.  Happy frying!

Recipe: Ultimate Latkes

Perfection In Latke Form

Perfection In Latke Form

Ingredients

  • 2 medium-large russet potatoes, do not peel
  • 1 large cooking onion
  • 1 whole egg and 1 egg white
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs, matzo meal, or cracker meal
  • 1 tablespoon potato starch
  • Canola or vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, puree 1/2 of 1 potato and 1/2 onion until the texture of thick apple sauce.  
  2. Switch blades to the shredder disk.  
  3. Shred remaining 1 1/2 potatoes.  
  4. Chop remaining onion.  
  5. Put everything into a large mixing bowl.  
  6. Add egg and egg white, salt, pepper, baking powder, bread crumbs, and potato starch.  
  7. Stir well.  
  8. As mixture sits, liquid will collect. Just stir liquid back into mixture before scooping for latkes.
  9. Heat 1/2 inch oil to 360-375 degrees in a large skillet.  
  10. Scoop about 3 tablespoons latke mixture into oil.  
  11. Do not press down (can gently flatten just the top a bit).  
  12. Let cook until the edges turn a deep golden brown.  
  13. Flip and cook on the other side until browned and crisp all around.  
  14. Drain on paper towels.
  15. Serve immediately with apple sauce and/or sour cream.
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Recipe: Crisp and Creamy Latkes

See the related blog post here.

Crisp and Creamy Latkes

Crisp and Creamy Latkes

Ingredients

  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 1 large cooking onion
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup rice flour or AP flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon All Purpose flour (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • oil for frying- I used vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Cut 1 potato and onion into smaller pieces.
  2. Place pieces in blender (if you have a vitamix) or food processor.
  3. Blend into puree with egg, salt, baking powder, flours.
  4. Pour into a bowl and fold in pepper and scallions.
  5. Grate remaining potato with a medium microplane grater. It will take a while-sorry!
  6. Next, mix potato shreds into the puree mixture.
  7. Heat oil over medium to medium-high heat in a large skillet.
  8. Drop around a tablespoon into the hot oil to form latkes, being careful not to crowd the pan.
  9. Flip when edges become a deep golden brown.
  10. When both sides are completely brown, remove latkes to drain on paper towels.
  11. Keep warm in a 250 degree oven, if not serving immediately.
  12. Serve with sour cream and/or applesauce.
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Recipe: Gluten Free Lacey Latkes

Lacey Latkes (Gluten Free)

Ingredients

  • 2 medium-large Russet potatoes
  • 1 medium onion (white or yellow, non-sweet variety)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Vegetable or canola oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Cut potatoes and onion into small pieces.
  2. Pulse many times in a food processor until the texture of thick applesauce.
  3. Add the eggs, rice flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.
  4. Pulse to combine.
  5. Heat a large skillet (or 2, like I do) over medium heat with about 1/4 inch of oil.
  6. When oil is hot, add spoonfuls of the batter to the hot oil, leaving about an inch between latkes.
  7. Wait until edges are a deep golden brown to flip.
  8. Flip and remove to drain on paper towels when browned on both sides.
  9. Keep warm in a 250 degree oven until ready to serve.
  10. Serve with sour cream and/or applesauce.
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Recipe: (Peanut-Free) Soynutty Pie Crust Clusters

(Peanut-Free) Soynutty Pie Crust Clusters

(Peanut-Free) Soynutty Pie Crust Clusters

Ingredients

    For the Clusters:
  • 1 pillsbury pie crust, room temp and unrolled
  • 1/3 cup toffee bits (recipe follows) or crushed hard caramel candies like Werthers
  • 1 cup pretzels (Rold Gold is nut-free), broken into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 bag (2 cups) white chocolate baking chips (Trader Joes)
  • 1 tablespoon crisco (butter flavored or plain)
  • 1 tablespoon Soynut butter, golden peabutter, or sunbutter
    For the toffee:
  • 2/3 cup salted butter
  • 1 cup sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Cut pie crust into tiny squares or16 rows in each direction.
  3. Place on parchment lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until light golden brown.
  5. Let cool.
  6. Meanwhile, make the toffee by combining the butter and sugar in a saucepan over medium to medium-high heat.
  7. Whisking occasionally, heat to 305 degrees or until toffee colored (about 10 minutes).
  8. Pour out onto a lined baking sheet covered with parchment or a silpat .
  9. Spread out with an offset spatula and let cool completely.
  10. Break up into tiny pieces with a mallet or rolling pin.
  11. Place the pretzels into a zip topped bag.
  12. Crush into small pieces with a rolling pin.
  13. In a large, microwave safe bowl, heat white chips, crisco and Soynut butter on high in 30 second intervals, until melted.
  14. Gently fold in pretzels, toffee bits, and pie crust pieces.
  15. Make sure that everything is coated.
  16. Dollop by heaping tablespoon onto parchment paper and place in refrigerator for 15 minutes.
  17. Store covered, if they last more than 10 minutes!
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Million Dollar Recipe, Nut Free Version! “Soynutty Pie Crust Clusters”

As I might have mentioned 100 a few times, I was lucky enough to be a contestant in the last two Pillsbury Bake Off Contests.  The winner of the 47th contest was just announced live on The Chew tv show the other day, and boy was I thrilled that my new friend and fellow Virginian, Beth Royals, walked away with the Grand Prize of 1 MILLION dollars!  Her absolutely addictive “Peanutty Pie Crust Clusters” are amazing, and I would encourage you to make a batch for your holiday cookie tray or exchange parties.  The original recipe can be found here. Not wanting to be deprived of these treats in my nut-free home, I set about making a peanut-free version, “Soynutty Pie Crust Clusters” .  It is a tad bit more involved than the original version (mostly because of the toffee chips!), but still took me around 30 minutes to throw together.

First, cut the pie dough into 16 strips in both directions.  I did this on top of parchment, with my pizza cutter.

The cut pie crust for my Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters

Then you spread the little pieces apart a bit, so that they don’t stick together.  This part would totally appeal to those of you that are obsessed with crossword puzzles.  It was kind of fun!  Kids can help make this recipe easily, by the way…

Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters dough on the baking sheet

Then you bake them at 450 degrees for 6-8 minutes or until light golden brown.

Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters dough baked

While those were baking, I set about making my own toffee.  It is super simple, takes about ten minutes, and is necessary if you want to avoid nut products.  You also could buy nut free hard candies, such as Werthers Originals and crush them up, if you wanted to skip this step.

Just place butter and sugar in a pot over medium-high heat and whisk occasionally until it reaches 305 degrees (hard crack stage).  If you don’t have a candy thermometer, it will turn a lovely toffee color at this point.  Pour out onto a lined pan onto parchment or Silpat mat.  Let cool and bust into pieces with a mallet.  Told you this was fun!

Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters toffee 1Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters toffee 2Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters toffee 3

Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters toffee 4

Not only do you get to bash toffee, but you get to smash pretzels in this version as well!  Great holiday stress relief.

Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters Smashed Pretzels

Now, put your white chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl.  An aside about white chocolate chips- It is hard to find a coconut oil-free brand that is not made in a plant with nuts, but Trader Joes makes them, and they are perfect for this recipe.  They do contain milk, however.

Anyhow, stick one bag of the white chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon crisco (butter variety or plain works as well), 1 tablespoon of soy-nut or sunbutter, and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring well until completely melted.

Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters soy nut butter and white chocolate chips
The chips and Soynutty butter I used.

Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters soy nut butter and white chocolate chips in the bowl

Now all my bits and pieces are ready to go!  Just fold the pie crust bits, the smashed up toffee, and the broken pretzels into the melted chocolate goodness.

Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters ingredients

Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters ingredients mixed

Dollop onto parchment in little clusters.

Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters on a baking sheet

Pop into the fridge for 15 minutes and you have the best sweet and salty munchie ever invented….1 million dollars good!  Enjoy.

Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters yum
The focus group loved these!

(Peanut-Free) Soynutty Pie Crust Clusters

(Peanut-Free) Soynutty Pie Crust Clusters

Ingredients

    For the Clusters:
  • 1 pillsbury pie crust, room temp and unrolled
  • 1/3 cup toffee bits (recipe follows) or crushed hard caramel candies like Werthers
  • 1 cup pretzels (Rold Gold is nut-free), broken into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 bag (2 cups) white chocolate baking chips (Trader Joes)
  • 1 tablespoon crisco (butter flavored or plain)
  • 1 tablespoon Soynut butter, golden peabutter, or sunbutter
    For the toffee:
  • 2/3 cup salted butter
  • 1 cup sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Cut pie crust into tiny squares or16 rows in each direction.
  3. Place on parchment lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until light golden brown.
  5. Let cool.
  6. Meanwhile, make the toffee by combining the butter and sugar in a saucepan over medium to medium-high heat.
  7. Whisking occasionally, heat to 305 degrees or until toffee colored (about 10 minutes).
  8. Pour out onto a lined baking sheet covered with parchment or a silpat .
  9. Spread out with an offset spatula and let cool completely.
  10. Break up into tiny pieces with a mallet or rolling pin.
  11. Place the pretzels into a zip topped bag.
  12. Crush into small pieces with a rolling pin.
  13. In a large, microwave safe bowl, heat white chips, crisco and Soynut butter on high in 30 second intervals, until melted.
  14. Gently fold in pretzels, toffee bits, and pie crust pieces.
  15. Make sure that everything is coated.
  16. Dollop by heaping tablespoon onto parchment paper and place in refrigerator for 15 minutes.
  17. Store covered, if they last more than 10 minutes!
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Some other allergy thoughts- If you have a peanut allergy, but are not allergic to tree nuts, you could add pecans or hazelnuts, lightly chopped.

If you are gluten-free, you could use Pillsbury’s gluten-free pie and pastry dough in place of the crust, and make sure to use gluten free pretzels.

If you are Milk free- you could use milk free chocolate chips in place of the white chips. A brand like Enjoy Life would work well. You could make the toffee with non-dairy margarine instead of butter.

If you are allergic to soy, use sunbutter or golden peabutter.

Cookie butter might also rock in this! Just a thought…