I’ve been blessed — and compelled — to write two books on lefse.
When I wrote The Last Word on Lefse, I fretted that the grand old practice of lefse making was dying. Now, 25 years later in Keep On Rolling, I traveled the Lefse Trail (13 stops in six states) to assess the State of the Lefse Union — and I found it to be vibrant. Lefse makers abound, and when they gather at family lefse fests during the holidays to make this tender flatbread, it’s a blast.
If you’re eager to learn to make potato lefse and carry on this Scandinavian tradition, here’s my recipe. Enjoy!
- 3 cups potatoes (about 8 medium-size potatoes), russets preferred, never red potatoes
- 5 tablespoons melted butter (salted)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- ¼ cup whipping cream
- 1¼ to 1½ cups flour to mix with dough, extra for spreading on rolling surface and rolling pin
Makes about 10 rounds
Boil your spuds with the skins on. When potatoes are done, peel them and mash them.
Rice the potatoes — twice is nice.
Put 3 packed cups riced potatoes in a mixing bowl.
Dissolve salt and sugar into melted butter, and pour into the bowl with the potatoes. Add cream and mix thoroughly.
Cover the dough with a paper towel and let cool. Most lefse makers cool the dough overnight in a refrigerator, but some don’t (and roll with slightly warm dough).
Knead the flour into the dough with your hands just before you roll it into lefse rounds. The dough should feel slightly moist and sticky.
Shape 1/3 cup of dough into a lefse patty, taking care that there are no cracks in the edges.
Roll the patty on a lightly floured pastry cloth, using a lefse rolling pin covered with a lightly floured rolling pin sock. (The pastry cloth and sock help prevent the round from sticking, as does turning the round over when rolled to about half the intended size.)*
Go easy on the flour — too much flour makes tough lefse — and go light on the pin to make your round see-through thin. Roll until the round has a 10-inch diameter, lifting your pin at the edges so the edges don’t get too thin and crisp on the grill.
Use a lefse turning stick to lift the round onto the grill.*
Grill the round. You can use a skillet, but it’s best to use an electric lefse grill set at 450 to 500 degrees. When bubbles form, flip your round. Under cook side A to retain moisture in your lefse. Make side B your “show” side by grilling until beautiful brown spots appear.
Cool and stack the rounds under a dish towel. Stacking softens sections of rounds that might have turned out too dry.
Eat plain or with butter and sugar and cinnamon — or as sandwich wrap.
*If you need lefse-making gear, check out Ingebretsen’s on Lake Street in Minneapolis, which also offers lefse lessons.
Gary Legwold of Minneapolis is also the author of The Last Word on Lefse, The Last Word on Lutefisk and The Last Toast to Lutefisk! (lefseking.com)