Although that seems to be the only time of the year that I make it! In truth, my Norwegian grandparents probably ate it every week. They most likely swapped between lefse, plain flat brød, and grov brød. I don’t make it often, but I do hate to see the lefse griddle hanging out in the back of the closet…it looks lonely and unloved.
So, let’s make some lefse! I’m no expert, just counting on my DNA and a few sessions with my host grandmas in Norway and my auntie after college. We start with…potatoes.
I usually do half of a five pound bag. Boil the potatoes in water with a little salt, just like you would for dinner. I usually quarter or eighth mine, depending on how big they were. This batch was big so I did eighths. Boil them until they are done (fork tender).
For about 2.5 pounds of potatoes (red or white, it doesn’t matter), mix in
- 1/2 cup milk or cream
- 1/2 cup butter
- Salt to taste
Mash them ALOT. You want them smooth. Some recipes call for heavy cream…I used table cream, and I’m almost certain my aunt used whole milk. Definitely use real butter! My aunt just stashed the leftover boiled and mashed potatoes until her mixing bowl was pretty full, which let her move directly to the lefse making.
Now you get to rest! Let the potatoes cool down, put a lid on the bowl, and stow them in the fridge overnight. They are OK for up to three days this way.
Now it’s Day 2; time for the fun!
Traditionally, lefse is baked an a large flat griddle. I have my mom’s lefse baker from Bethany Heritage Grill. You can order them online. A large flat griddle will work, or a cast iron griddle, we are looking for a baking temperature of 425 degrees F or (220 C).
Other helpful tools is a cross hatch rolling pin, seen below, and there is also a grooved rolling pin, both available online. The experts use both, and I am not an expert, so I use a regular rolling pin and my beloved cross hatch, which I brought home with me from Norway. Helpful tool #2 is a pastry cloth. I don’t have one of those either, so I use an old flour sack type towel. Finally, helpful tool #3 is a lefse stick, also available on line. Alas, I don’t have one of those either, so I use a fork and a yard stick. See, I’m living proof that improvising can work!
Now that you are aware of the tools that will help you deter disaster, it is time to begin. Remove the potatoes from the fridge and use a heavy duty spoon to break up the potato mixture. Add 2 cups of flour and mix it in. It will look terrible, but give the potatoes a little time. Dump it out and give it a knead or two or three for good measure, then start making large fist sized balls. If it feels sticky, add another 1/2 cup of flour, so you can shape the dough.
I got 20 good sized balls out of this batch. By the time I had rolled them all out, I had used just under 4 cups of flour for the total batch. When you start rolling, think “pie crust.” Because I don’t have a pastry cloth, I start by rolling on the table, then transfer to the towel. I’m terrible at rolling, so I do what works for me. You are going to roll these out to about a 14 inch round, so they will be VERY thin. Keep that in mind and be generous with the flour!
Once you have the round rolled out, you will need to transfer it to the griddle. This is where the lefse stick comes in! I lay my stick on the dough, and the bring the towel over the top. Pull the towel back, and gently lift the lefse to the griddle. You will lay the bottom half out, then roll the rest off the stick.
While that lefse is baking, you can start rolling the next one. You know it is done, when you see brown spots on the cooking side, and it looks kind of dry. The edges will also get a little bit crisp. Using the fork if necessary to get the stick under the lefse, gently flip it over and bake the other side.
Baked lefses can be stacked on a clean cotton towel, just fold it over to keep them from drying out while you bake the others. Once the batch is done, you can fold each lefse in half, and again, to make a quarter circle. Stack them and put them in air tight bags. Leave some out to enjoy now, and freeze the rest for later. I like mine with some butter and a little bit of sugar sprinkled on them, rolled up. One lefse is usually 2-4 servings; as a kid we were only allowed a quarter of a lefse during coffee time, but the adults got halves…we always tried to sneak seconds!