5 Favorite Nordic Christmas Recipes: Lefse

Each day this week, I will be sharing one of our favorite Scandinavian recipes for the holiday season or høytiden. Yesterday, I shared our favorite cookie recipe, Nordic Almond Bars. Today, we try something a little more complicated.

For many Norwegian-American families, the biggest Christmas treat isn’t foil-wrapped chocolate or sugar-dusted cookies. It’s lefse, a simple flatbread. It is made with potatoes, flour, butter, and milk or cream. It is cooked on a griddle.

Lefse are sort of like soft tortillas, made mostly out of mashed potatoes (with a little fat and flour mixed in to form a tender dough). They’re usually spread with butter and sugar, or rolled up with a bit of lingonberry jam.

When we make them, we make them by the dozens. They freeze well and are the perfect way to eat up leftovers at Thanksgiving and Christmas – we simply roll em up.

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5 Favorite Christmas Recipes: Lefse @EvaVarga.netLefse

The following recipe comes from the Sons of Norway website; lodges across North America utilize a variation of this basic recipe each year for their annual lefse and bake sales.

Ingredients

10 Lbs. Russet Potatoes, peeled
1 Lb. Unsalted Sweetcream Butter (room temperature)
Salt
2 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour

Materials Suggested

Electric Lefse Griddle by Bethany Housewares
Pastry Board and Cloth Set
Corrugated Wood Rolling Pin and 3-4 Rolling Pin Covers
Lefse Stick
Potato Ricer

Recipe

Step 1

Bring a large stock pot full of water to a boil. Cut your peeled potatoes 2-3 pieces depending on size and cook until they are tender. You may need to do multiple batches if you are using a smaller pot.

Step 2

Rice the cooked potatoes into a large bowl with your potato ricer. Once you have riced all of the potatoes cover and let them cool overnight in your refrigerator.

5 Favorite Christmas Recipes: Lefse @EvaVarga.netStep 3

Remove your potatoes from the refrigerator and let them warm slightly. Move approximately half of the riced potatoes to a smaller bowl. Add the flour in 1/4 cup increments, along with 1/2 stick of butter in chunks and 1 Tsp. salt. Knead the mixture until everything is well mixed. Test the consistency of your dough, you are looking for a texture similar to light pie dough. It should form into a ball without sicking to your hands and hold its shape without cracking if you press the dough ball lightly with your thumb.

If the dough feels too sticky add a little more flour, if it is too dry or is cracking when pressed add another couple pats of butter. Taste the Lefse dough as you go, it should taste like potatoes not flour. The dough should be slightly salty and buttery, but be careful not to over-do-it on the salt.

Warm your griddle to 400°F/200°C. If you are using a traditional lefse griddle remember to place it on a surface that will not be damaged by the high level of ambient heat. The heat from your lefse griddle could cause your stone counter top to crack or your laminate counter tops to delaminate. It is recommended that you use something to cover your countertop to help dissipate the heat.

5 Favorite Christmas Recipes: Lefse @EvaVarga.netStep 4

Form the finished potato mixture into balls about the size of a golf ball. Flour a pastry board covered with a pastry cloth and rub the flour into the cloth. You want enough flour so that your lefse will not stick, but not so much that your lefse is completely covered in flour. Roll out your lefse on your pastry board until it is 1/8 inch thick. Using your lefse stick transfer the lefse to your griddle. Cook on the griddle until bubbles form and each side has browned. Place the lefse on a damp towel to cool slightly and then cover with a damp towel until ready to serve.

If you are storing the lefse, after it has cooled fold it in quarters and place 8-10 sheets into a 1 gallon freezer bag. Store in your freezer for upto 3 months. To thaw – remove from freezer, place on a plate covered with paper towels and allow to come to room temperature.

Tips

Making lefse takes practice. It may be helpful to watch a video tutorial or two. I have also written a Hub Page describing the process, How to Make Lefse. Better yet – contact your local Sons of Norway lodge. They may offer classes. 🙂

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Join me tomorrow when I share our annual tradition of making Norwegian Heart-Shaped Waffles!

Looking for more inspiration for a Nordic høytiden … read my earlier posts here and here.

5 Favorite Nordic Christmas Recipes @EvaVarga.net

It’s a holiday hopscotch! Join the iHomeschool Network bloggers for more Christmas themed posts all week!

5 Favorite Nordic Christmas Recipes: Nordic Almond Bars

My kids presently are working on earning their first Cultural Skills pin in cooking from Sons of Norway. They have opted to begin with Level 2: Baked Goods & Desserts and as the holiday season is upon us, I thought it the perfect Christmas Hopscotch.

Each day this week, I will be sharing one of our favorite Scandinavian recipes for the holiday season or høytiden. Try one and I guarantee you will want to make them all!

Christmas cookies are a must-have for any Christmas celebration and baking them at home is a great way to bring the family together. There are many wonderful cookie recipes in Norway some of the more popular cookies are:

  • pepperkaker or gingerbread,
  • krumkaker (waffle cookie curved in a cone shape),
  • sandkake or sand cakes that are simple short cake baked in molds and filled with jelly, and
  • fattigmann (poor man), a recipe that dates backs to over 100 years ago.

5 Favorite Christmas Recipes: Nordic Almond Bars @EvaVarga.netMy daughter’s favorite Nordic inspired cookies are Nordic Almond Bars and thus we begin …

Nordic Almond Bars

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Milk
1/2 cup sliced almonds, coarsely chopped
Almond Icing

Materials Suggested

Rolling Pin
Mixing Bowl
Pastry Brush
Electric Mixer
Cookie Sheet
Oven

5 Favorite Christmas Recipes: Nordic Almond Bars @EvaVarga.netRecipe

Step 1

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Stir together flour, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; set aside. Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar; beat until combined. Beat in egg and almond extract. Add flour mixture; beat until combined.

Step 2

Divide dough into four equal portions. Form each portion into a 12-inch long roll. Place two rolls 4 to 5 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Using your hands, flatten each roll until it is 3 inches wide. Repeat with the remaining rolls on another cookie sheet. Brush flattened rolls with milk and sprinkle with almonds. Bake one sheet at a time in a preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. While still warm, slice diagonally into 1-inch wide pieces. Transfer to wire racks; cool. Drizzle with Almond Icing. Makes 48.

5 Favorite Christmas Recipes: Nordic Almond Bars @EvaVarga.netAlmond Icing

In a small mixing bowl stir together 1 cup sifted powdered sugar, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, and enough milk (3 – 4 teaspoons) to make an icing of drizzling consistency.

Place in layers separated by waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze undecorated cookies for up to 3 months. Thaw cookies, then drizzle.

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Join me tomorrow when I share our annual tradition of making Lefse! What will I share later in the week? You’ll have to come back to see! ?

Looking for more inspiration for a Nordic høytiden … read my earlier posts here and here.

5 Favorite Nordic Christmas Recipes @EvaVarga.net

It’s a holiday hopscotch! Join the iHomeschool Network bloggers for more Christmas themed posts all week!

Fårikål: Norway’s National Dish

As a Norwegian-American (like most, my great-grandparents emigrated to America in the late 1800s), it has been my goal to incorporate more Norwegian traditions into our daily lives. Serving Fårikål is just one of the new traditions we honor.

Fårikål is Norway’s national dish. A casserole of seasonal lamb and cabbage makes this simple dish a favorite autumn treat. Fårikål season is from September to October when the fattened lambs come down from the mountains.  In fact, the last Thursday of September in Norway is National Fårikål day.

lamb shanks and cabbage
 prepped for cooking
Lamb shanks prepped for cooking

Fårikål used to be made from mutton for flavor but over time lamb has become more favored as it is more readily available in our supermarkets.  It is traditionally served with new potatoes, cowberry sauce or lingonberries, and crispy flat bread.

1 ½ kg lamb or mutton stew meat

1 ½ kg white cabbage

4 teaspoons whole peppercorns

2 teaspoons salt

3 cups water

  1. Cut the head of cabbage into wedges.
  2. Add meat and cabbage in layers in a casserole dish. Sprinkle salt and pepper between layers. Pepper grains can possibly put in a special pepper holder. (Some people also like a smooth fårikål. Sprinkle a little flour then, about 1-2 tablespoons per 4 portions, between the layers.)
  3. Pour the water into the dish. Bring to a boil and let fårikål draw on low heat until meat is tender (it separates from the bone), ca. 2 hours.
  4. Serve steaming hot with boiled potatoes
Image of Fårikål ready to serve
Fårikål ready to serve

This humble stew of boiled lamb and cabbage, has been Norway’s official national dish for more than 40 years. The last Thursday of September every year is National Fårikål Day. I have recently learned, however, that Norway has launched a nationwide competition to replace it.

In our home, we eat it with potatoes and crispy flat bread (sometimes even Naan – a traditional Indian style bread that is readily available at our local supermarket).

The recipe I shared here is a traditional recipe.  For a variation of this traditional recipe, visit My Little Norway.