Thursday, January 2, 2014

Lefse Step by Step

Growing up, one of our favorite days of the year was Lefse Day.  Lefse Day isn't a special holiday with a particular date, it was just the day on which our Grandmother chose to make lefse--a traditional Norwegian potato flat bread that is absolutely delicious.  It has been important for me to pass this tradition down to our children and has become one they love as much as I do.  I've had requests for the recipe, and I'm happy to oblige, but be forewarned this is a traditional dish that takes quite a bit of practice, skill, and special equipment to make properly.  Even after 45 years, I still don't feel my lefse lives up to the perfection of my Grandmother's. 

Lefse begins with peeling, cutting, and boiling 5 pounds of red potatoes until fork tender (the same tenderness you'd want for mashed potatoes)

After draining the potatoes, add 1/2 cup unsalted butter cut into pieces and allow the butter to melt in the potatoes as they cool down enough for you to handle.  The potatoes and butter then must go through the ricer--pictured above.  The ricer is much like a garlic press, but much larger.  This yields lovely fluffy and slightly texture potatoes.  In lieu of a ricer, the potatoes can be gently mashed--but I can not guarantee the final results of your lefse.  Ricers are fairly easy to find and are not very expensive and if you are serious about making lefse properly, you will procure one. After ricing the potatoes, chill them thoroughly.

The lefse dough is simple enough to make.  Gently mix together 5 cups of riced potatoes, 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 TBSP sugar, and 2 TBSP of heavy cream until the ingredients just come together as shown above.  Chill the dough for several hours.  Cold lefse dough is happy lefse dough.

Other equipment needed for making lefse include a cloth covered rolling board, lefse griddle, and lefse stick--known to Norwegians as a spudu.

Take a golf ball sized ball of lefse dough, roll it in flour, and flatten into a disk.  Using either a silicon rolling pin or a wood rolling pin covered in a pin sock, roll the dough turning between each roll using the spudu until it is the diameter of a very large tortilla and very, very thin. See how you can read the words on the cloth through the lefse? That is how thin you want it.  This is where the skill comes in.  The dough is very fragile and finicky.  It will tear and stick if you are not careful.  See how mine isn't perfectly round?  I still need a lot more practice to get mine as beautifully round as my Grandmother's. Use flour liberally, but do not use too much or you will end up with dusty or crackery lefse. 

Using your spudu, gently move your rolled dough to a very hot lefse griddle.  I heat mine to about 425-450 degrees.  Once again practice and skill come into play.  Too hot and the lefse will burn, too cool and you'll end up with very large crackers before the lefse is cooked through.  Watch carefully for bubbles to form on the side of the dough in contact with the griddle.  Once the bubbles begin to turn color, flip the lefse and cook on the other side until bubbles form on that side and begin to turn color.  Lefse should be a creamy yellow color with darker brown spots from the bubbles.

Using your spudu, gently lift your cooked lefse from the griddle and onto a cooling rack covered with clean tea towels.  Allow to cool as you roll and cook more lefse.

As the lefse multiplies fold int quarters and set aside until served.

I always cook a tender, fall-apart, pork roast to serve with the lefse.  Open up a lefse quarter and layer with copious amounts of butter, pork, honey, or cinnamon and sugar.  Fold over and roll up into a burrito shape and enjoy.  5 pounds of potatoes makes approximately 25 lefse, which in our house is gone by the end of the day.


5 cups peeled, cooked, cooled and riced potatoes
2 cups all purpose flour
1 TBSP sugar
1 tsp salt
2 TBSP heavy cream

Mix gently until the ingredients come together into a dough.  Chill until ready to roll.

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1 comment:

Our Family said...

Rinju and I were talking about how good these were just the other day. Miss you guys