Baked vegan latkes – Lazy Cat Kitchen
So with Thanksgiving in a rear view mirror, many people in the traditionally Christian part of the world are starting to think out Christams…I have quite a few exciting festive recipes planned for you, but before I delve into Christmas cooking, I figured I should make something for upcoming Hanukkah, which starts on the 18th of Decemeber this year. Yes, that’s right I made a plate of deliciously crispy on the outside and soft on the inside latkes and the best part is that they are baked, not fried. Are you sold yet?
Even though I am not Jewish, I grew up on latkes – my mum used to make them at least once every two weeks when I was a kid. They are very popular in my native Poland and I think I read somewhere that the word ‘latke’ stems from Polish word ‘łatka‘ meaning a patch. I mean look at them, it makes perfect sense. Indeed, they are delighful fried, but as I am not massively keen on the process of frying at home and on consuming this much oil, I really wanted to come up with the best baked version I can so that I (and you) can indulge now and again. After many many attempts and tweaks and plenty of late night latkes in my stomach (I need to get better at self-control), I am really happy with this version and I cannot wait for you to try them.
They are prefectly crispy on the outside – they have what we call in Polish ‘koronka’ (meaning lace) all around them – and soft and substantial in the middle, which was not easy to achieve. I consumed (and composted) many that were crispy on the outside but though, chewy and dry in the middle. They also use pretty staple ingredients and the process is really quite straightfoward, but please do follow the recipe as there is a reason why I did things the way I did them – I ate pretty many meh latkes so that you can enjoy these pretty perfect baked vegan latkes.
MORE ABOUT THE INGREDIENTS
STARCHY POTATOES: starchy potatoes (as opposed to waxy, which are better in a salad, or all purpose) are key for crispy latkes. Varieties differ across the world so be sure to find out what is the best variety where you live. In the UK, the most common type of starchy potatoes is Maris Piper (which is what I used) and in the US it’s Russet.
SHALLOT/ONION: finely sliced shallot or onion is added for flavour. You could use onion powder too, but I would add a tablespoon or so liquid back into the mixture to make sure they are not too dry in the middle.
GROUND FLAX: ground flax seeds are used to partially replace eggs, which are typically used to bind latkes together. I add ground up flax straight into the mixture, rather than activate it in liquid first, as this way flax will absorb any excess moisture while activating.
BAKING POWDER: another function of eggs is that they have a leavening effect, I added a touch of baking powder to my mixture to stop the middle from getting too dense.
POTATO STARCH: potato starch is what makes starchy potatoes crispy, it is the white sludge that gathers at the bottom of the bowl after you’ve squeezed the liquid out of your potatoes. I add some extra starch to the mixture for that reason. If you don’t have it you, could add the settlement that gathers at the bottom of the bowl with potato water after the water has been drained away, plus a bit more cornflour/cornstarch.
RICE FLOUR: I used rice flour to give these latkes more of a soft body in the middle and to keep them gluten-free. If you are not gluten-free, plain flour should work just as well.
Grate your potatoes coarsely in a food processor or by hand, then place inside a double cheesecloth or nutbag and extract all of the excess liquid out of them.
Create latkes mixture by adding in finely chopped shallot or onion and all of the dry ingredients. Using your hands massage dry ingredients into the potatoes.
After a few seconds your mixture should be clumpy, use your hands to shape it into patches. Brush with a little oil and pop into the oven. Follow the rest of instructions in the method (below).
- 600 g / 21 oz starchy potatoes*
- ¾ tsp fine salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 1 large banana shallot or ½ medium onion
- 8 g / 1½ tbsp ground flax seeds (I used golden flax)
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 20 g / 2 tbsp rice flour
- 20 g / 2 tbsp potato starch or cornstarch
- approx. 30 ml / 2 tbsp olive oil, to brush
SOUR CREAM ALTERNATIVE (optional)
- 100 g / ¾ cup cashews or hulled sunflower seeds
- 80 ml / 1/3 cup water
- a squeeze of lemon juice, to taste
- salt, to taste
- Scrub your potatoes well – unless they have a thick, inedible skin, there is no need to peel them. Use a pairing knife to cut off/out any blemishes.
- Put prepped potatoes through a food processor fitted with a coarse grater attachment or grate them by hand.
- Place grated potatoes inside a double cheesecloth or a nut bag and allow them to rest for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200° C / 390° F and grab two large baking trays lined with baking parchment (or a silicone mat) and dice shallot / onion very finely.
- Squeeze as much moisture as you can out of the potatoes (I extracted just over ½ cup / 120 ml of liquid).
- Place dry potatoes in a mixing bowl, add salt, pepper, ground flax, diced shallot, baking powder, rice flour and potato starch. Using your hands massage dry ingredients into the potatoes. They should clump together easily in your hands after you are done.
- Brush a little bit of oil on the spots where you are going to be laying your latkes. Grab 3 tbsp worth of the mixture per latke, and using your hands shape the mixture into little patches (latke stems from Polish word for ‘patch’) without compressing the middle too much, you want them a bit bumpy. Tidy the edges so that they are not too scraggly as they will burn too much. Brush a little more oil on top of each latke.
- Bake for 10 minutes, after 10 minutes, carefully remove the paper/mat. Brush a little olive oil under the latkes and grease the tops a little too. Carry on baking for another 10 minutes.
- Finally, crank up the heat to 250º C / 480º F, brush the latkes with a little more oil on both sides and bake for about 10-12 miuntes, until browned. Consume straight away with vegan sour cream (see below) or apple sauce if that’s what you prefer.
SOUR CREAM ALTERNATIVE
- Soak cashews in boiling water for 20-30 minutes, drain.
- Place in a small blender or a smoothie maker (I use a Ninja), add water (or soya milk for whiter colour), a good pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. Blend until smooth.
- Add a touch more water if the blender struggles – not too much as you want it as thick as possible. Taste and add more seasoning (salt & lemon juice) if needed. Refrigerate until needed.
*STARCHY POTATOES: starchy potatoes (as opposed to waxy, which are better in a salad, or all purpose) are best for baking as its their starch content that helps them crisp up nicely. Varieties differ across the world so be sure to find out what is the best variety where you live. In the UK, the most common type of starchy potatoes is Maris Piper (which is what I used) and in the US it’s Russet.
*per 1 out of 10 latkes (without cream)