When I recall the holiday gatherings when I was a little girl, I always remember a large platter of freshly baked lefse on the table. Grandma Margaret spent days in the kitchen preparing all the wonderful dishes we would enjoy on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Lefse has always been one of my favorites.
I sadly never had the opportunity to learn how to make lefse with my grandmother but as members of Sons of Norway, my children and I have learned this culinary tradition. We delight in spending an afternoon or two each year rolling out the lefse dough, enjoying a few warm samples throughout the day, and ultimately covering every surface of the kitchen in flour.
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Our lodge families recently gathered for their annual lefse baking day and while we were unable to join them in person as we now live several hours away, we joined in the festivities and baked a batch for ourselves.
We really got into the spirit of things and even sang along with Alexander Rybak, a Belarusian–Norwegian musician and actor. Her favorite album, pictured here, is Fairytales.
His music is upbeat and vibrant. I love that he plays the violin and has inspired Geneva to work harder at developing her skills as a violinist.
We had a lot of fun and developed a system that was efficient and quick. Follow along with me as I will walk you through the process of making lefse, step by step. I have included photographs and will soon be creating a video.
Lefse Tools & Materials
To make lefse, there are several tools you’ll need. You can purchase these in a starter kit like the one pictured at left or purchase items individually.
Having the right tool for the job makes the work so much easier.
Lefse Recipe & Instructions
1-10lb bag of Russet potatoes
2 sticks of butter
Makes approximately 54-60 depending on how thin you roll and the diameter of each
For 10lbs. of potatoes – Peel, cut and boil in a large pot of water until done but not mushy. Drain well. Mash or rice until all lumps are gone. Add 2 sticks of butter, BUT NO MILK OR CREAM! Cool and store in a loosely covered dish. I generally drape a clean dish towel over the bowl. Plastic-ware can sweat, adding unwanted moisture.
You’ll find that every lodge or family has their own version of this timeless recipe. Some add a little whipping cream to the dough. Play around and find what version you like best.
Add flour, one cup at a time, and blend by hand. Continue to add flour until the mixture “feels right”. You’ll develop a sense of this with more experience but essentially you want the mixture to be moist but dry enough to roll out without sticking to the pastry board or turning stick.
When the dough is ready, we like to portion it out into small balls (pictured above). Each ball is approximately 1/4 cup in quantity. I generally do this as Geneva begins to roll.
She sprinkles flour onto the pastry board surface and first flattens the ball with her hand. She then begins to roll the dough, turning it several times so it doesn’t stick. She aims for a diameter of 12″ or more. Presently, we do not have a lefse grill and are thus limited by the size of our pancake griddle. Not perfect but it works.
How to Cook Lefse
Cook each lefse on a flat grill (pictured below) until lightly golden brown. Flip with the turning stick and repeat. Lay upon a towel to cool.
Everyone of course has their favorite ways to enjoy this Norwegian delicacy. We generally spread a little butter and then either sprinkle cinnamon sugar or lingonberry jelly and then roll. Delicious!