What do you get when you have a cake with a creamy and delicate interior protected by a crispy caramelized exterior? You have a rösti. A potato pancake like no other. Its’ soft creamy interior holds together with just the right amount of the potato’s natural starches, creating a pancake that is tender, creamy and crunchy. Rösti originated in Switzerland and was a breakfast staple for farmers. Now, people from all over the world enjoy these potato cakes.
I have enjoyed rosti in restaurants and wanted to see if I could recreate them for myself. After researching many recipes, I decided to use a recipe from The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. His science based technique is typically spot on, inventive, and not too difficult to follow. After making his recipe a few times I picked up a few skills and some new information.
Like life in general, the key to making a successful rösti is all about balance. They are like fritters or latkes, but are thicker and creamier. The type of potato and the technique used to prepare them, work together and create the perfect amount of starch necessary to hold the whole pancake together. Too little starch and the rösti falls apart when you cook it. Too much starch and you have a sticky pancake. Have you ever played with potato starch mixed with water? Its gooey stuff and not something you want in your pancakes.
Kenji believes Russet potatoes are the best ones to use. They are high in starch and will create pancakes with fluffy interiors and crunchy outsides, like the perfect French fries. I agree with him if you follow his technique. For experimentation, I tried a different parcooking method using Russet potatoes and the results were not so great.
Rösti has essentially one ingredient and the key to keeping them intact is the initial preparation. Good sharp tools, like a mandoline or a very sharp knife will cause less potato starch from releasing. A box grater is not as sharp but does a good job cutting the potatoes into the right size.
Parcooking helps prevent the potatoes from oxidizing and give the rösti the right texture. He likes to parcook the potatoes in a microwave which is easy enough, and eliminates a step common in other recipes. I often read potatoes are grated raw, then squeezed to rid them of excess water before assembling. Parcooking potatoes gives the potato cake great texture and fully cooked potatoes throughout the pancake.
Unfortunately, my potatoes oxidized even though I sliced them with a mandoline and parcooked them in a microwave. I am not sure why, but one theory I have is my potatoes where doing what potatoes do, oxidize when exposed to air. Maybe I did not work fast enough, or my knock off Japanese mandoline needs sharpening. After several trials, I am still working this out.
To experiment, I parcooked the potatoes whole in a microwave, let them cool, then grated them using a box grater. This produced rosti with a light and creamy color, but looked and tasted like mashed potato cakes, not a rosti. Maybe a medium starch potato like, Yukon gold is better suited with this technique. Oh, so many variables to figure out, and so little time.
If you have a non-stick pan, it will be a lot easier to make. I do not own one and used a cast iron skillet. They are good pans to use just harder to maneuver the rösti out of the skillet. The sides of my pan are more vertical than they are slopped. My rösti had to slither up and over a cast iron mountainside before it could ease on to a plate. It required some extra encouragement with my spatula to get the rosti to “slide” out of the pan.
As I cooked rösti, I was reminded of making a traditional Spanish tortilla. The amount of oil and the heat of the pan had to be just right so the tortilla would cook properly and slide in and out of two different skillets multiple times. Rösti has less ingredients than a Spanish tortilla, which makes the delicate balance all that more important. It is not hard to make rösti, just more particular.
Traditionally, rösti is considered a side dish, but I love to serve rösti as a meal topped with an egg and salsa. They are also delicious served with any vegetables like spinach. I used Kenji’s suggestion and mixed in a layer of mushrooms and onions because they are one of my favorite foods. I really like this idea and will make it a staple feature whenever I make them.
Serve rösti as an appetizer with garlic or saffron aioli. It is a delicious small plate option for any cocktail party. Add smoked or cured fish, pickles, eggs, vegetables, aioli, and your guests have a satisfying and unexpected meal.
I would love to hear from you about your experience making rösti. Let me know in the comments section below the recipe how you like to prepare rösti. Enjoy!
Rösti: Potato Cake with Mushrooms and Onions
- 3 medium russet potatoes l lb- 1.5 lbs /680 g rinsed peeled and cut with a box grater or mandolin
- 5 Tb/ 62 g olive oil divided
- 1 medium onion
- 4 oz / 125 g mushrooms thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tsp fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Place the prepared potatoes in a microwave dish and cook on high for around 5 minutes. You do not want the potatoes overcooked and mushy, they should still have a slight bite in the center.
While the potatoes are cooking, heat 1 Tb olive oil in a heavy 10-inch skillet and add the onion and mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms and onions until soft and translucent and just beginning to brown, around 6 - 8 minutes. Add the minced garlic, thyme and a pinch of salt and pepper, stir to mix and cook until you begin to smell the garlic's perfume. Remove the mushrooms and onion from the pan and set aside.
Wipe the skillet clean and return it to the burner. Turn the heat to medium and add 2 Tbs to the skillet. Heat the oil until shimmering. Make sure there is an even coating of oil across the whole pan, then spoon half of the potatoes into the skillet. Press down on the potatoes with a rubber spatula and form the potatoes into a pancake. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then spread the mushrooms and onions over the potatoes. Add the remaining potatoes to cover the mushrooms and onions, then press down on the potatoes to cover the top of the pancake.
Cook the rösti on one side for around 7 minutes. Do not disturb the pancake for at least 4 minutes into the cooking time. After 7- 8 minutes, run a thin spatula around the edges and underneath the potatoes to loosen it from the bottom.
Slide the potatoes onto a plate large enough to hold the rösti. Place another plate, upside down, on top of the plate holding the rosti, so the rims are kissing each other. Flip the plates over, so the bottom plate is now the top and lift off the plate. You should see a beautiful golden brown crusty rösti.
Wipe off any stuck bits from the bottom of the pan and add 2 Tbs olive oil.
When the oil is shimmering, slide the rösti back into the skillet and sprinkle with salt and ground pepper. Cook for 7 more minutes.
When finished, loosen the rosti from the pan and slide it onto a serving plate.
Keep warm or serve immediately.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
I love breakfast and will never skip this meal. Most of the time I enjoy a bowl of yogurt with fruit and coffee, or almond butter on multi-grain toast. No matter what I am eating, breakfast is a sacred and meditative time of day even if it only lasts for 10 minutes.
Our usual breakfast routine is self-serve. I stock our pantry and frig with our habitual breakfast foods. Joe does his thing in the morning, and I do mine. Joe makes us a big pot of coffee, so all I have to think about first thing in the morning is locating a clean mug. Sometimes it is the little gestures that mean so much. I love waking up and seeing a full pot of coffee ready and waiting. I can sip hot coffee and ease into the routine of the day.
Thanksgiving is a month away, and I am looking forward to having a full house and time to dig into a big breakfast shared with people I love. The kitchen table welcomes the family with a selection of cherished breakfast delights like eggs, pastries, bacon, fruit, coffee, and oj. Everyone is lounging around in their pj’s. The morning sleepiness gradually subsides, helped along by jokes and ease. A cherished moment of family down time before the holiday activities and cooking begins.
But why wait until a holiday to enjoy a breakfast meal together? I believe it is time for me to bring back an old tradition we had while dating. It is time for a breakfast date, and pancakes are on the menu.
Not just any pancakes though, Dutch Baby pancake made with oat flour. Dutch Baby Pancake, also known as German pancake, is one skillet sized pancake cooked in the oven. It is one of the easiest breakfasts to make, and has very few ingredients. It is delightful. Dutch Baby pancake is light and puffy, like popovers and crêpes. I believe there are two ingredients that make a Dutch Baby pancake stand out. Frist, add some freshly grated nutmeg in the batter instead of cinnamon. The warmth of nutmeg nicely compliments the oat flour. I like it more than cinnamon. Then, after the pancake is out of the oven, finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Wow. Don’t skip the lemon. A little squeeze of juice transforms the plain Dutch Baby Pancake into a regal delicacy.
Why change a good thing and substitute all-purpose flour with oat flour? Why not. Oat flour has a slightly nutty and caramel flavor making it a complimentary ingredient to use in a variety of baked goods. It is also a great gluten-free substitute for all-purpose flour. Replacing all-purpose flour with oat flour makes the butter taste butterier with a slight nuttiness. Also, you do not have to worry about over-mixing the batter when you use oat flour. Dutch Baby pancakes made with oat flour will not rise up the sides of the pan like a traditional one, but it will puff up randomly, creating hills and valleys for pools of butter and syrup to collect. This oat flour Dutch Baby pancake reminds me of funnel cake with its irregular shape.
This recipe is adapted from David Eyre’s Pancake, The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser
Want more recipes using oat flour? Try my Gluten-free Nifty Cake
Where to buy oat flour? Oat flour is widely available at some large supermarket chains, such as Stop&Shop and Whole Foods. It is also available at smaller specialty grocery stores like Mrs. Green’s and family run markets like DeCicco’s in Westchester and Putnam Counties. Bob’s Reb Mill is the most widely available brand of oat flour. They supply a gluten-free oat flour and a non-gluten free oat flour. Also, King Arthur, and Arrowhead Mills have oat flour, but they may not be gluten-free. Often, oats and wheat grow in fields next together and may cross-pollinate. As well as, oats and wheat are milled in the same facility. Unless it says Gluten-free on the label, the oats are cross pollinated or cross contaminated with wheat. Additionally, Amazon sells oat flour. However, compared to my grocery store, it is double the price.
Gluten-Free Dutch Baby Pancake
- 1/3 cup 1 1/2 oz/ 43 g oat flour*
- 1/2 cup whole milk 118 ml *see note for a dairy free alternative
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 tea of freshly grated nutmeg
- 4 Tb butter 2 oz/52 g
- 1 Tb confectioners sugar
- 1 lemon
- *If you want to use all-purpose flour use 1/3 cup 1 5/8 oz/46 g of all purpose flour
Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place a 10 inch cast iron skillet, or sturdy oven proof skillet in the oven to heat up.
Sift the oat flour into a medium mixing bowl. Lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl and add to the flour. Add the milk and nutmeg and mix all the ingredients until combined.
Heat the skillet in the oven and add the butter. After the butter melts and stops bubbling, pour the batter into the center of the pan. The batter should spread evenly out. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. The pancake should be evenly golden brown and set in the middle.
Sprinkle the Dutch Baby with powdered sugar and put the pan back in the oven for a minute or so.
Remove from the oven and squeeze the juice from half a lemon all over the pancake. Serve immediately.
You can slice it right in the skillet, or slide it onto a serving plate then serve.
Serve the pancake with fresh fruit topping of your choice, and or maple syrup.
Dairy free option: I made the recipe using oat flour and almond milk for a dairy free and gluten free alternative. Use the same amount of unsweetened almond milk as cows milk in the recipe. The Dutch Baby pancake will not be as puffy, but it still will puff up and taste great.
Dutch Baby is also great as a dessert. Drizzle it with Nutella or chocolate sauce and creme fraiche or ice cream. Any fruit topping with cream is a good option as well.
© 2016 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
I made a new discovery this past week. As I was walking around the produce department I spotted a fruit that I had never seen before, lemon plums. The color was what first grabbed my attention, a warm vibrant yellow with a thin smooth skin. Their shape is somewhat similar to a lemon and somewhat similar to a plum, but longer and a little larger. These days anything bright and warm looking will hold the attention of any skeptical winter weary person. The end of winter is here and we North easterners no longer see the virtue in the color grey. I stared at these lemon plums as if I was watching a long summer sunrise. Entranced, I collected some plums to buy and bring home.
My research informed me that lemon plums are in season now and from Chile. They are rare and I was instructed to snatch them up when I saw them. Lemon plums are picked when they are yellow and unripe. As they ripen they gradually turn the color of a reddish-orange, the darker they get the riper and sweeter they will become.
© 2016 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.