Family Recipe Friday – Potato Pancakes

Potato Pancakes, Placki, or Latkes

One of my favorite treats are potato pancakes. When I was a child these were also called by the Polish word, placki. Working in a Jewish household when I was a teenager, they were called latkes. In different nationalities they are called many things, but I simply call them delicious. I fried these potato pancakes up in my favorite cast iron frying pan. I enjoy them served with a dollop of sour cream and applesauce.

Here’s the recipe that I use from one of my favorite cookbooks, by Marianna Olszewska Heberle, called Polish Cooking. You should use a starchy potato, like Yukon Golds.

Potato Pancakes - Placki Kartoflane, from Polish Cooking, by Marianna Olszewska Heberle, New Revised Edition, 1991.
Potato Pancakes – Placki Kartoflane, from Polish Cooking, by Marianna Olszewska Heberle, New Revised Edition, 1991.

The most important things to remember when cooking the placki is to make sure the oil is very hot, and to squeeze out the extra liquid when you grate the potatoes. I use an equal amount of butter to the cooking oil, and when it sizzles I drop in a sliver or two of the grated potato to make sure it will quickly brown. I have never bothered with the cottage-cheese topping, since I really like sour cream. My aunt Stefie made the best ones, and it was a quick tasty lunch or supper on meatless Fridays.

My childhood friend, June, gave me some of her grandmother’s recipes. Her grandmother, Mrs. Mary Radomski, made excellent potato pancakes. She also made the most delicious deep-fried doughnuts, called  pączki (ponch-kee). Pani (Mrs.) Radomski lived to be over one hundred and two years young! She had a large garden with many rows of potato plants that she tended with loving care. Below is her very simple version of potato pancakes as told verbally to her granddaughter, June, who wrote out this recipe card.

PotatoPancakesI enjoy the grated sweet onion taste and would add some. Mary Radomski assumed that you knew how to shape the pancakes only about 3″ wide, and how to fry them in the hot oil.

 My mother would sometimes make something that was called lazy potato pancakes. She would take leftover mashed potatoes and form them into small cakes and then fry them. I never liked them as much as the real thing!

 Family Recipe Friday is a blogging prompt suggested by Geneabloggers. Enjoy!

11 thoughts on “Family Recipe Friday – Potato Pancakes

  1. Latkes! Hanukah is in less than two weeks, and latkes are the traditional dish served for Hanukah, It’s fascinating that what I think of as a Jewish dish is also just as much a Polish dish.


    1. Thanks, Amy! I wonder if there is a traditional way to make and serve latkes for Hanukkah? When I was growing up the Polish grandmothers were called Bapcia, and the Jewish grandmothers, Bubbe. They were the best cooks!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bubbe is still used by many Jewish families as a name for Grandma (we just use Grandma in my family). But whatever you call it, the recipe for latkes is very much the same as the first recipe you gave for platki—grated potatoes, onion, salt, eggs. And I might use matzo meal instead of flour, To top it off, Jews usually use apple sauce. Or sour cream if it’s a dairy meal since it’s not kosher to eat dairy with meat. Oh, and we cook them in oil, never butter, because Hanukah is about the miracle of the oil that lasted 8 days!


  2. I can fail at potato pancakes more thoroughly than I can at any other food I have ever attempted to serve! I bow to your spud capabilities 🙂 Those look amazing. Lot’s of people in your tree are looking down and beaming!


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