We’re Rolling in the Dough! Lefse Dough, That Is and It’s Delicious

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.

How to Make Lefse: Step by Step @EvaVarga.net

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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.

The items I feel are critically important are a corrugated rolling pin, turning stick, and pastry board and cloth.

Having the right tool for the job makes the work so much easier.

Optional items include the lefse griddle (you can use a pancake grill but it limits your size), potato ricer (helps eliminate lumps), rolling pin sock (helps prevent sticking).

Lefse Recipe & Instructions

Ingredients

1-10lb bag of Russet potatoes
2 sticks of butter
All-purpose flour
Makes approximately 54-60 depending on how thin you roll and the diameter of each

How to Make Lefse: Step by Step @EvaVarga.netHow to Prepare Potatoes for Lefse

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.

How to Make Lefse: Step by Step @EvaVarga.netHow to Roll the Lefse Dough

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 Make Lefse: Step by Step @EvaVarga.netHow 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.

Once the lefse are cool, depending on the diameter, you should be able to store 6 lefse in a gallon size zippy bag. They freeze well so don’t worry if you have extra. 

How to Make Lefse: Step by Step @EvaVarga.netHow to Serve Lefse

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!

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!

Lefse Day

Every year, we gather with our lodge family to make lefse.  It is an all-day affair.  It is a great social time, allowing everyone to chit chat as we work collaboratively.  This year, the lodge here in Northern California used 140 lbs of potatoes and we yielded 75 dozen lefse!

Lefse is a traditional soft, Norwegian flatbread. Lefse is essentially made from riced potatoes, flour, and milk or cream, and cooked on a griddle – however, the recipes vary with each family.

lefseday

Growing up, lefse was prepared as a special treat for the holidays. We still make it every holiday season and prefer to eat ours with butter and cinnamon sugar. You can also spread them with jam and peanut butter, cream cheese, or nutella, or you can go the savory route and roll up your Thanksgiving Day leftovers.

Every year, Sons of Norway lodges around the country gather to make lefse for their members or for annual bake sales. My kids have always loved to help in the kitchen and have thereby made lefse since they were toddlers. My daughter has become quite adept at rolling and my son prefers to man the grilling stations.

Historically, the first lefse in Norway didn’t contain potatoes, it was made only from flour. Women would travel from house to house, village to village to make lefse to last the winter months. The flour lefse would cook up like a cracker and be able to last through the season.Many households stored their lefse is wooden boxes covered in cloth or just stacked on shelves. When you were ready to enjoy some lefse it was dipped in water and soaked between damp cloth until softened.

Potatoes were introduced some 250 years ago which were easy to grow and soon abundant. The potato was thereby  incorporated into many Norwegian foods, even lefse!

Like Ireland, Norway suffered from the effects of the potato famine in the mid-1800′s, which is about the time that many Norwegians came to the United States. They brought their knowledge and rolling pins. The result is a Norwegian potato bread delicacy that’s part of a special tradition replicated in many Norwegian-American homes for more than 150 years.

A tradition that you can be part of once again. For everything you need to know about making lefse, visit my Squidoo lens, How to Make Lefse.