Grandma Doherty's Potato Pancakes

My mother’s mother was of German ancestry and, as I have mentioned before, a brilliant cook -you know- homemade noodles ( I would come home from school and see hand cut noodles drying on tea towels draped over open kitchen cabinet doors), potato pancakes, dumplings, kuchen… all those divine things. She was my much loved Grandma Sarah Rhyff Doherty and owned a bakery in Detroit many years ago with her sister Carrie; so need I say her pastries, breads, cakes and pies were also heavenly? And did she ever know how to make perfect long johns! Does anyone else remember what those are? Lord, no wonder I am always on a diet!

When I was a child, potato pancakes were a family favorite and not for breakfast either. We always had them for dinner. We usually had bacon or even side pork (a heavenly fattening pork item that I can find once in a while in Florida, but more readily available in the north country). And I made potato pancakes for my kids too- always for dinner. They loved them.

Oddly enough, Grandma never used onion in her recipe which is quite uncommon and she also always served warmed maple syrup, not applesauce, another break from German tradition. But it was a tradition we grew up with- therefore the way I still make them.

So, the next time you look in your larder and find it empty except for couple of potatoes, dinner is right in front of you. Could any meal be cheaper? Or easier? Or more delicious? Or quicker? I mean there are lots of things you can do with potatoes, but just wait until you try this potato pancake recipe; it hits the spot. Better than waffles. Better than regular pancakes except, perhaps, for my Grandfather’s buckwheat pancakes, which I promise to discuss in another post. And we didn’t have potato pancakes on a regular basis- it was always a special treat.

I suppose grating the potatoes would be a snap now with food processors, but there is something special about hand grated potatoes- so that is still how I make them. You have to be careful with your knuckles, but the finished product is just plain better. You need a little egg, a little flour, and vegetable oil to fry them, but that’s about it. Syrup, of course, although you might prefer applesauce or some other fruit puree. I am a Michigan syrup person- we made our own from time to time, but if not, homemade syrup was for sale roadside just about everywhere in the fall. Lucky us. Anyway, most of these ingredients are already in your pantry. Bacon or side pork is not necessary, just icing on the cake. I am in heaven with just the pancakes.

This is going to be a difficult recipe to post because I always make it by look, not by measurement. So last night, my daughter and I had them for dinner and I sort of eye-balled what I put in just for you.

Grandma's Potato Pancakes

Ingredients:1 large Idaho potato
1 small egg
1/4 to 1/3 cup all purpose flour
pinch salt
Vegetable oil for frying

Method:Peel and hand grate the potato. Beat the egg and add to the grated potato. Add a pinch of salt and start with 1/4 cup flour- adding up to 1/3. You want the consistency to still be slightly runny, not too thick.

Heat the oil in a large skillet, add a heaping spoonful of pancake batter and spread it out a little. I can fit three at a time in my skillet. Cook until golden and then flip and cook until brown on the other side. Keep warm in a slow oven while you finish the rest and then serve with heated maple syrup.

This recipe served two of us.


  1. oh, barbara, hooray for family recipes! i love to read about traditions, especially when they involve potatoes, and ESPECIALLY when those potatoes are fried. :) i didn't expect these to be served with maple syrup, but i think that's fantastic!

  2. These sound so good! I love potato pancakes served with applesauce - nothing better!

  3. Yum, this is delicious!Im not too crazy about onions in my latkes,and this one is just my type.I'd love to guide our readers to your site if you won't mind.Just add your choice of foodista widget to this post and it's all set, Thanks!

  4. I am glad you located this and linked it to My Meatless Mondays. I love potato pancakes. We call them latkes and I put loads of onions in them. That is the biggest difference between our recipes. I usually brown mine a little too much, as well. Yours look lovely.



Related Posts with Thumbnails