“But I’m not a paper-thin dough kind of girl…”, I protested.
Not that anybody was listening. I was just having one of those internal wrangles with my blog-self.
Still. There it was in 140 characters. A request from Imen for lefse.
Of course I knew about lefse – the Norwegian potato flatbread – though I’d never eaten it. No great surprise there, given that I’d never been to either Norway or Minnesota, the two places it seemed you were most likely to find it. And I really did want to make lefse – it had been on my list for a long time. Long before Imen had asked.
…managing the paper thin lefse dough seemed tricky. There was equipment involved. Pastry cloths and grooved rolling pins, lefse turning sticks and griddles, not to mention talk of a pastry sock. Pfft. The only socks I had were the ones I put on my feet.
I got the distinct feeling that it was the kind of thing you needed to learn by watching your Norwegian grandmother. And whaddya know, I didn’t have one of those either.
When I saw the process described as “chaos incarnated“, that had put the final nail in my lefse coffin. Until now, that is.
With a Project Food Blog challenge on my hands, it seemed as good a time as any to resurrect my lefse ambitions.
First, though, I was going to need a good long talk with my blog-self.
“Forget the equipment. The first lefse-makers didn’t have any special equipment”. True enough. I would do what I could with a rolling pin and pancake pan.
“It’s just a mashed potato dough. You’ve made gnocchi, you can make this.”
And, yes, as I set about making the lefse dough, it seemed to have much in common with gnocchi: with less flour better than more; soggy mash a friend to neither; and a grandmother of the appropriate nationality an advantage for both.
But making dough is one thing. Rolling it out and cooking it quite another. And in my quest for paper-thinness, the lefse stuck and they tore (and I cursed and I swore). They crumpled. I cried. They burned. I sighed.
But while paper-thin perfection proved elusive, it didn’t matter in the end. My lefse were just as thin as something spread with butter, sugar and cinnamon needed to be.
This formula for lefse is based, among others, on the recipe found here, which seemed particularly helpful.
- Makes around 30 x 20cm wide lefse & takes approx. 45 min to prep + several hours for the cooked potatoes to cool completely + 1 hour or more (not to mention a lot of practice) to roll out the dough and cook
- 1kg potatoes, preferably a floury variety (I used Irish Queens, in the U.S. try Russets)
- 50g butter (approx. 3 tblsp)
- 0.5 tsp salt (plus more for boiling the potatoes)
- 100ml whipping cream
- approx. 175g – 300g plain flour
You’ll also need:
- I’d strongly recommend having a ricer for the potatoes. If you have lefse-making equipment, then use it, though you can use your regular rolling pin to roll the lefse out, use a ruler or other long, slim implement to lift and turn the lefse and, if you don’t have a griddle, then a cast iron frying pan or pancake pan will do the job.
The Mash Steps:
- Peel your potatoes and cut into roughly even-sized slices, around 1-2cm thick. Rinse under cold water.
- Bring about 1.25l of water to the boil in a saucepan, add about 1.5 tsp salt and the potato slices.
- Bring the potatoes back to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer gently, covered, for around 12-15 minutes or until just fork-tender.
- Drain the potatoes well and return to the saucepan. Then either let them sit, covered by a tea-towel, for about 5 minutes or place the pan over a low heat and stir gently for a minute or so while they dry out.
- While the potatoes are drying, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.
- Put the cooked and still warm potatoes through a potato ricer, then stir in the melted butter. Add the cream and salt and stir to combine.
- Cover the bowl of mashed potatoes with a tea-towel and place in the fridge for several hours or overnight, allowing the potatoes to cool completely.
The Dough Steps:
- When you’re ready to make the lefse dough, get your mashed potatoes and knead in about 175g plain flour, adding more flour if necessary to make a stiff dough that’s just slightly sticky and should hold together if you squeeze it.
- Form the dough into small, evenly sized patties (about 3 tblsp of dough should be enough to make a 20cm wide lefse when it’s rolled out).
- You can get ready to roll your first lefse now (and, meanwhile, keep the rest of the patties covered in the fridge).
- Heat your griddle (to 500F if you have a temperature control) or place your ungreased stove top griddle or pan over a high heat.
- Using a well-floured board, roll the lefse out as thinly as you can. Slide a turning stick or some other long, wide implement under the lefse, lift and transfer to the griddle or pan.
- Cook for about 30 seconds or until the lefse has started to bubble and develop brown spots on the base. Flip the lefse over and cook briefly, just until the other side develops brown spots.
- Remove and keep the lefse warm by covering with a towel while you get on with rolling and cooking the rest.
- Eat warm with butter, sugar and cinnamon or allow to cool completely, fold in quarters and freeze until you’re ready to use them.
- You can add a tsp or two of sugar to the mashed potato – many recipes do – or you can replace the cream with additional butter.
Hi, I just found your site and I love it. I’m half Japanese and half Norwegian so I do have a Norwegian grandma who use to make Lefse! I think you did a wonderful job, I wish I could have had some..my grandma died 22 years ago and let me tell you, it’s nearly impossible to get good lefse nowadays. I have not been able to make it myself and I usually buy it premade at the grocery. There use to be Norwegian deli’s and bakeries to buy it at, at Christmas time but they seem to all be closing down. I think you should come to Seattle and be my neighbor. :)
Hi Liz and thank you for your lovely comment – not to mention the request to move next door :D I’d certainly love to have an excuse to visit Seattle – maybe I should just make some lefse and bring it over!