Lefse (Lefsa)- My Favorite Scandinavian Heritage Food

I have been waiting for the perfect time to share this recipe and since the holidays are here, I’m SOOOO excited to bring this to the blog. Lesfe is a potato flat bread, but don’t even try to confuse this with a tortilla, naan, or a cracker – it’s like none of those. Since I’m 100% Scandinavian (Norwegian, Swedish, and Dutch) there are some holiday traditions I am determine to keep in the family. (For those readers not in the States and might find it weird that Americans classify themselves by where their ancestors came from – it’s just a way to hold on to family and still think of the home country – even if no one has lived their in 100 years.)

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Being away from my community of Norsk folk, I become nostalgic. Although homemade lefse is always just as delicious as I imagine. And because I’m a bit of a food snob (ok, a lot of a snob), the store bought, factory made is just not even close – usually way too thick and you can taste the preservatives. The real deals don’t stay but for a few days unless quickly frozen.

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So anyway, when I was home in Minnesota with my family for a week in July, I asked my Mom if we could make some lefse. 🙂 Luckily I could twist her arm into a batch or three.

When making proper lefse, you start with the potatoes. Half mealy such as a russet and half waxy like a red or yukon (might have some golden lefse). Make sure everything is peeled – this is something that the added fiber from the skins will not improve.

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After cooking, rice the potatoes. And yes, don’t just mash, they need to all be of the same consistency. Measure out 3 cups of the riced potatoes.

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Add in your butter, salt, sugar, and cream and let cool. Set in the fridge or outside (if the temp is cold enough but not in those -20F – that’s quick freezing and we won’t need that).

When you’re ready to start making the lefse, stir in the flour and portion into 1/4 cup balls – you should get about 13-15 balls in one batch.

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I want to talk real quick about the equipment needed for lefse – because it’s very specific. You need your pastry board, rolling pin covers/sockswaffled rolling pin, lefse turning stick (trust me, this is magic), and your lefse grill (this is not a pancake griddle and is different that a crepe grill, it’s a lefse grill- you can see the very thin concentric rings).

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For people just starting out, here’s a great starter kit, minus the waffled rolling pin – but it does come with the rolling pin sock/cover which my Mom says is really important!

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Store the dough you’re not using in the fridge if you’re making multiple batches. Then take and roll out the dough, flipping occasionally until it is about 1/16-1/8 of an inch thick. Using your stick, transfer over to the hot grill and lay flat.

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If you’re getting any bubbles, just tap the bubble to release the air. Once you see some dark brown spots starting to form on one side, flip it over to the next. If you’re a real pro at this or have a helper, you can have one person rolling while the other watches the grill. And then have two grills!

After removing from the grill, it’s easy to stack them to keep them warm and from drying out. Cover with a towel between additions.

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And I can’t forget the most important step… eating! Now although I saw it on a menu at Cafe Broder in Portland, IMHO fish does not belong in or on lefse. Although it may be used like bread or a tortilla, I feel that lefse is not a device for a sandwich. My family puts butter and sugar/honey on theirs and eats it tightly rolled.

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Lefse (My Mom’s carefully honed recipe)

Makes about 13-15 lefse (I recommend you make for double or triple the recipe)

Ingredients

  • 3 c potatoes, boiled & riced (use half waxy and half mealy potatoes)
  • 4 T butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1/2 c cream
  • 1 1/2 c flour

Directions

  1. Peal and boil potatoes – for three cups you should be safe with 4-5 large potatoes.
  2. Rice potatoes and measure out three cups.
  3. Add butter while hot.
  4. Add the salt, sugar, and cream; cool in refrigerator. If you double the batch, leave in refrigerator overnight.
  5. When ready to roll, mix in the 1 1/2 cups of flour per 3 cups or riced potato mix.
  6. Measure out 1/4 cup mix for each lefse and roll thin.
  7. Bake on a 450F lefse grill. Turning when dark brown spots appear.
  8. Store lefse for 1-2 days in an airtight container or layer and freeze.

For the finished product photos, I have to give credit to my Mom and Dad. In July I completely forgot to get a finished product shot – I was too excited to eat them. When talking to my parents yesterday, my Dad said they were making lefse this weekend so I begged them to style a few shots for me. And I think they turned out fantastic! They’ll be instagraming and styling the rest of their food soon I’m sure. 😉

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What are some of your holiday food traditions?

 

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