One of the things you hear most frequently about vegan cooking and baking is “but what do you do about eggs?” Generally speaking, especially in pastries, eggs aren’t really necessary and can be easily substituted by making vegan “buttermilk”, where some acid (usually vinegar or lemon juice) is added to nondairy milk, which then reacts with baking soda to create a stable structure. If it’s the richness that eggs bring, using some blended tofu or soy yogurt are easy options. As a last resort, there is always EnerG egg replacer, which is made with a combination of starches, and then, there is flax. When ground and mixed with water, or boiled whole in water, flax releases a viscous, gooey gel, which makes a brilliant egg replacer. The ground flax works particularly nicely in smaller things, like cookies, or in latkes! The boiled gel is a different animal all together, but some wonderfully experimental vegans figured out it can be whipped like egg whites to make foam! (but more on that later).
Making exceptional vegan versions of the traditional Jewish foods of my childhood has proved to be much more difficult a challenge than vegan baking. The first vegan latke recipe I used, I found to make rather dense latkes, due to its reliance on extra flour as it’s only binder. The were ok, but not exactly what I was looking for in a homemade latke. I was looking for something light and crispy, faintly scented with onion, that was perfectly warming in the dark of December.
Enter the latke recipe from The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick Goudreau. Her recipe included ground flax as a binder, which freed the potato pancake from it’s floury, glutinous density. In fact, these latkes were exactly as I remembered them, light, crispy, and the perfect compliment to a dollop of applesauce. I am sharing her recipe in all it’s glory, so you too can have the perfect vegan latkes this year.
Crispy Latkes (adapted from the Vegan Table)
- 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 1/4 c water
- 4 c peeled and shredded potatoes (about 5 medium sized potatoes)
- 1 small onion, peeled and shredded
- 1 tbsp al purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
- Canola oil for frying
- Applesauce for serving
In a food processor or blender (a fork works too honestly), whip the flaxseed and water together, until mixture reaches a thick and creamy, almost gelatinous consistency, 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside
Spread potatoes on a kitchen towel or cheesecloth, and roll up jelly-roll style. Twist towel tightly to wring out as much liquid as possible. You may need to do this again with a second towel. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
Add flax egg to potatoes, along with onions, flour and salt. Use your hands to combine ingredients. You want the mixture to be moist, but not too wet.
Heat some oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Using a tablespoon, scoop a large spoonful of potato mixture unto hot oil, pressing down to form a patty. You are not trying to create dense patties, but the batter should stick together enough to be flipped without falling apart. Slide a spatula underneath the latkes while they’re cooking to make sure they don’t stick to the pan. Brown on one side, turn over, and brown on the other side. You may need more oil as you add more latkes to the pan. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to soak up the excess oil. Season with salt, and serve with apple sauce.
- Better Than Buzzfeed’s Thanksgivikkuh Ideas (tipsyshades.wordpress.com)