Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, when all my J's gather together, light candles, spin the dreidel, and nibble on latkes, jelly doughnuts, and gelt. This year, Hanukkah coincides with Christmas, making the last week of the year even more festive. Like most holidays, food takes center stage and is a prominent fixture of this cultural celebration. Most families are bound to a signature latke recipe, which has been passed down through the generations. If you are looking to switch it up and veer away from traditional russet potato latkes, consider this vibrant sweet potato and apple alternative.
Latkes are traditionally fried in oil to represent the oil that lasted for eight days in the story of Hanukkah. I have tried the baked latke alternative, believe me, and have yet to make it work. One day I hope to have a recipe worthy of sharing but, for now, initiating with a pan fry is your best bet for crispy and delicious latkes.
If you want to go an even more unconventional route, what about making life easier and healthier with a latke cake? The first iteration I saw of a latke cake was Mark Bittman's Potato Nik. It is a genius solution to eliminating cups of oil and long periods standing over the stove flipping and repeating. The second was from goop. I merged these two cooking techniques and opted for my favorite potato, the sweet potato. This "latke" is sweet and savory with a whole lot of flavor. Ginger, apple, and spices add depth and dimension to a somewhat bland holiday food.
As a latke topper, I offer you two options. One is a slightly tart pear cranberry and apple chutney, which works deliciously on yogurt or oatmeal if you happen to have any leftovers, and the second is a chive sour cream. Both work nicely with the latke and, in my opinion, it is always great to have options.
I'd love to hear what your traditional holiday dishes are! Please share in the comments section below.
Sweet Potato and Apple Latkes
Recipe adapted from Martha Rose Shulman for the New York Times, Mark Bittman, and Goop. If you want a vegan alternative, make a flax egg by whisking 2 1/2 tablespoons ground flax seeds with 3 tablespoons water. Let sit for 15 minutes to gel. Use in place of the eggs.
Makes 1 10-inch latke cake which can be cut into 8 slices.
- 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and grated – about 5 cups grated
- 1 cup grated apple, preferably a slightly tart variety such as Braeburn
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice + 1 teaspoon lime zest
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Salt to taste
- 3 tablespoons oat bran
- 3 tablespoon oat flour or chickpea flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- About 1/4 cup coconut oil, canola, grape seed, or rice bran oil
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Combine the grated sweet potatoes, apple, lime juice, ginger, spices, baking powder, salt, oat bran, and oat flour into a large bowl and toss to combine. Add the beaten eggs, and gently fold together.
- Heat a 10-inch cast iron or stainless steel pan over medium heat and coat with a thin layer of oil. To test if the oil is hot enough, hold your hand a few inches above the pan. You should feel the heat. Add all of the potato apple mixture to the pan and use the back of a wooden spoon to spread out in an even layer. Don’t mush the pancake too much and be sure to leave some textured bits on the top as they brown better.
- Cook the latke over medium-high heat for 8 minutes, drizzle the top with 2 tablespoons of oil, and transfer the pan to the preheated oven. Cook for 15 minutes.
- Turn on the broiler and broil the top of the latke for 5-10 minutes. Ideally, you want the top to be golden.
- Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the pancake to a cooling rack or plate. Cut the latke into wedges and eat immediately.
- Serve hot topped with desired toppings. To reheat, place on a parchment paper-lined sheet tray and warm at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
Pear Cranberry Apple Chutney
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
- 2 pounds apples, such as McIntosh, Gala, and Braeburn, peeled, cored, and chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 pounds pears, peeled, cored, and chopped
- 1 cup whole cranberries
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated ginger
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- In a large pot, bring the apples, lemon juice, pears, cranberries, ginger, cinnamon, maple syrup, and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until apples are very soft and are falling apart, about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Cool and transfer to a food processor and pulse until smooth with small chunks remaining. Alternatively, if you prefer more of a chutney/rustic consistency, which I do, you can skip this step.
- Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate. Can be made in advance.
Chive Sour Cream
- 1 1/2 cups sour cream or greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup chives, minced
- pinch of black pepper
Whisk all of the ingredients in a bowl and serve. Can be made in advance and chilled.
Happy Holidays from the Crunchy Radish