Lefse!

Everyone seems to have some sort of potato pancake treat for the holidays. For Norwegian-Americans, it is lefse. Lefse is basically a potato crepe/tortilla. Clearly, I am not Norwegian (see name of blog), but my hubby is and seeing as when I was growing up, my family usually went to the Chinese restaurant for Christmas, we now do Christmas around here Norwegian-American style. I admit that at first, I did not really know what all the excitement was about. Lefse is pretty much just potatoes and flour and it was strange for me to eat my potatoes with butter and sugar. In fact, I horrified my in-laws one year by using the lefse as a tortilla to wrap my Christmas duck with hoisin sauce – it was delicious. But, over the years, I have come to appreciate lefse as a holiday staple.

This holiday season, it seemed like lefse got a lot of press with a video and recipe in the New York Times and more recently on NPR, so I felt compelled to do a special lefse post along with this lefse glamour shot.

Lefse

Like all Norwegian recipes, lefse requires a lot of specialized equipment and I have come around to admit that some of this specialized equipment makes the process easier. First, the lefse rolling pin – my mother-in-law admits that a grooved rolling pin is not necessary and in fact, cleaning the dough out of the grooves is not worth the distinctive pattern it makes on the lefse. Second, pastry cloth – this is an absolute must to be able to roll out the dough to the desired thinness without it sticking and ripping. Investing in this item last year has made all the difference. Third, the lefse stick – the first lefse item we obtained and makes it possible to get the lefse from the pastry board to the griddle, flip the lefse on the griddle, and get it off the griddle without tearing and falling apart. The New York Times video shows a nice Norwegian-American grandma demonstrating some expert technique with the lefse stick. Lastly, the lefse griddle – while we just have a pancake griddle we use, it doesn’t get quite hot enough to prevent some crispiness around the edges. A lefse griddle heats up to 500 degrees and the high heat enables you to cook the lefse so it does not burn or get dry and crispy and cooks while maintaining its soft pliability and get the distinctive brown spots.

Our recipe uses potato buds. It’s an easy way to get the necessary fine texture for the potatoes and given everything else going on during the holidays, a welcome cheat. Maybe one of these years, we’ll have to try to boil and rice real potatoes for it. When we do, I’ll update this post.

Lefse

  • 3 cups Betty Crocker potato buds or equivalent amount of riced potatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup boiling water (skip if using real potatoes)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup flour

Mix melted butter and boiling water and add to the potatoes. Add salt and milk and stir. Add flour and stir with hands until mixed and uniform. Place in refrigerator until cool, about a hour or two.

Roll dough into golf-ball sized balls. Place dough ball onto a liberally floured pastry cloth and roll very thin. You want to avoid the dough sticking at all so keep flouring throughout the process. Fry dry (i.e. no fat) on a lefse griddle at 500 degrees. Turn when brown spots appear, about 30 seconds per side.

Spread with room temperature butter and sprinkle with sugar. Roll up lefse and enjoy.

This post was approved by my Viking hubby who does all the lefse making in this family.

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