Lithuanian Blynai Recipe (Potato Pancakes)
Lithuanian blynai are among the most famous Lithuanian heritage foods. These hot potato pancakes are served with a dollop of sour cream and a spoonful of apple sauce and are simply delicious.
This authentic Lithuanian blynai recipe was shared by the Philadelphia Lithuanian Music Hall Association. They hosted their annual Mugė Festival this weekend in Philadelphia and we were delighted to attend again for the festivities and to indulge in their “World’s Greatest Lithuanian Pancakes.”
Several of us volunteered on Friday to help prepare for the two-day festival. We peeled 500 pounds of russet potatoes for these best-selling blynai! In the end, it took 12 of us about two and a half hours to prepare 40 gallons of blynai batter. Please don’t let that scare you away — we scaled down their recipe from 500 pounds to 4 ¼ pounds of potatoes!
At the festival, a serving size was four potato pancakes. When planning your menu, note that two or three Lithuanian blynai might be a good serving size for most people.
Philadelphia’s Mugė Festival is a long-standing event tradition at the Lithuanian Music Hall; usually held the first weekend in November. All proceeds support cultural and educational programs for Philadelphia’s Lithuanian-American community.
Lithuanian Blynai (Potato Pancakes)
From the Kitchen of the Philadelphia Lithuanian Music Hall Association
- 4 ¼ lbs russet potatoes
- 1 egg
- ½ small onion
- 2 ¼ tsp salt
- 2 ½ TBS farina
- 1 crushed vitamin C tablet or ½ tsp ascorbic acid powder
- Canola oil for frying
- Sour cream for garnish
- Apple sauce for garnish
Yield: about 10 blynai (potato pancakes)
Peel the potatoes and remove any dark spots. Finely grate the potatoes with a food processor or box grater. Place the grated potatoes in a mesh sieve and allow them to drain above a bowl. Save the water that collects in the bowl as you will reuse the potato starch that settles at the bottom of the bowl. Continue this process of grating and draining until all of the potatoes are processed.
After the potatoes have had a chance to drain, empty them into a large bowl. Sprinkle them with the crushed vitamin C or ascorbic acid powder. Mix thoroughly to distribute the vitamin C/ascorbic acid powder evenly throughout the potatoes. This prevents the mixture from turning gray.
Add the onion, egg, salt, and farina to the potato mixture and mix until well combined. Carefully pour off the potato water from your collection bowl, but be careful to save the potato starch that settled at the bottom of the bowl. Add the potato starch to the potato mixture and stir until well combined.
If you are making this potato batter ahead of time, cover it with one sheet of paper towel and then with a piece of plastic wrap. Place both the paper towel and plastic wrap directly on the potato mixture to keep any air from reaching the batter. Refrigerate this batter up to two days before using it.
Heat ½” of canola oil in a large frying pan. Test the oil temperature by dropping a small amount of batter in the oil. If it sizzles, then the oil is hot enough. Drop about ¾ cup of potato batter into the oil for each blynas. Make several blynai at a time, but be sure to leave enough space in your pan so that the blynai do not touch each other. Fry until the bottom is golden brown and then use a spatula to flip the blynai. Fry the other side until golden. Remove from the oil and place on paper towels to drain.
Serve these Lithuanian blynai hot with a dollop of sour cream and a little apple sauce. You’ll soon understand why they call them the world’s greatest Lithuanian potato pancakes! Gero apetito!