How To Make Lefse

Note: This is a guest post from my sister Jamie. Just needed to warn you because the Norwegian culinary procedure outlined below is not recommended for small kitchens or for people pressed for time. Thank you Jamie for documenting the lefse process, and for forcing our Grandma to actually write down a recipe! And if you need fashion/etiquette/lady advice check out Jamie’s blog www.ladiesandtrampsblog.wordpress.com

How To Make Lefse – A la Grandma Chris

For those of you with Norwegian heritage you are likely familiar with lefse. It is a flatbread I guess but it is almost more like a potato and flour tortilla. It is extremely bland but when dressed up with butter and sugar it turns into something special and is usually only served during big family dinners or special occasions.

If you’re craving lefse you better learn to make it or learn to make friends with those who can make it because the stuff you buy from the store is just terrible.

This fall, my Aunt Heather arranged for my Grandma Chris to teach a few family members how to make lefse. The good news? It isn’t super hard, as I feared, but it is time consuming, you need the right tools and you must not try and cut corners. (We doubled the recipe below for our lefse training)

Recipe:

  1. 10 lbs russet potatoes (you cannot use red potatoes and just to be safe, don’t use anything but russet)
  2. 3 T Salt (for boiling the potatoes)
  3. 3 Sticks of Butter (melted)
  4. 1 C Cream
  5. 1 T Sugar
  6. Flour – (lots, you’ll see why)

To make the dough:

  • Peel and boil all 10 lbs of potatoes in salted water. Drain. Mix in the melted butter, cream and sugar. Mix but do not mash completely as you would for mashed potatoes.
  • Rice potato mixer through a potato ricer into a large bowl
  • Take 5 C of the potato mixture and mix, with your hands, a scant 1 1/2 C flour until fully incorporated.

To roll out the Lefse:

Before cooking, turn on your special griddle (Bethany is the brand we used – see equipment needed section), place a bowl with extra flour for dusting near your pastry board that has been prepared with that pie-cloth cover, and make sure you have ample clean, cotton cloth kitchen towels near the griddle in which to place the cooked lefse.

You’re ready to go:

  • Make a ball of lefse dough with your hands (see image)
  • Coat ball of dough in flour
  • Place ball of dough on lefse board that has already been dusted with flour
  • Pat the ball down into a small disk to get started
  • Gently roll out the dough in a circle
  • Take your lefse (wand/stick) and loosen the dough carefully from the board
  • Lay down the first half of the dough and then use your wrist and stick to roll out the rest (easy to watch, hard to explain in a recipe, easy to execute)
  • Dust with flour and gently roll the other side of the dough, make it thin enough that you can just see a little of the red from the cloth beneath it (shoot for a diameter of over 10″-12″ but don’t go too crazy). You want it to be thinner than pie crust.
  • Slide the stick under the dough (again, you are trying to release the dough from the cloth, if you’ve used enough flour, this isn’t hard) and gently lift the dough at the center.

Cooking the Lefse

Have your griddle at 500 degrees (note that all griddles are different so just be sure it’s really, really hot). Your lefse should cook quickly almost less than a minute for both sides.

  • Gently place the first half (thinking of lefse as a circle, the first semi-circle) down on the griddle and using the stick to roll the remaining out flat
  • When you begin to see bubbles, slide the stick under the center of the lefse, lift, and cook the other side using the same technique as above.

The cooked lefse should look “like paper with brown polka dots”. You must pay attention and you must not let it burn. Do not walk away or try to get the next ball of dough ready. You’re asking for trouble.

Finishing the Lefse

  • Slide stick under the lefse at the center and lift
  • Place lefse, folded in half, on a dish towel and cover with a dish towel. Dryness is the enemy of lefse.
  • Allow to cool while covered

Lefse can be kept in the fridge for up to three weeks according to my grandma. To freeze, allow to cool completely, place in a plastic Ziploc baggie, remove as much of the air as possible (see notes for a trick) and freeze.

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