For the Love of Lefse

ancient Norwegian sentiment

If you’ve been a reader for a couple years, you know that I’m not Norwegian, but that I have friends who are, and that we annually make lefse and have a cookie exchange.  (This is the 21st year for N and L, about the 5th for me, and the first for JZ.) This year we did so at L’s house.

Our hostess, with her heart-shaped potato

L found a heart-shaped potato in hers when she was doing her prep, and saved it.  We’ll see if she ends up shellacking it and saving it, which was one of the proposed options.  Given her husband’s love of lefse, this was a great talisman for our messing around with grills, sticks and rolling pins.

A refresher:  Here’s the rolling and cooking equipment.

The scene is set

Here you can see a Teflon coated lefse grill, the Bethany Housewares round (footed) pastry board with its canvas cloth, and the rilled rolling pin.  To the right of the stack of sheet pans  is the Lefse Stick.  The Turning Wand.  Could we come up with a better name?  It’s a special piece of lightweight wood that is flat on one side and rounded on the other, meant for loosening the lefse from the board, and transporting it to and from the grill, as well as flipping. 

First, we make a dough out of cooked potatoes (russets – waxy potatoes need not apply, according to The Recipe) that have been passed through a potato ricer and cooled,  then mixed with some flour, salt, powdered sugar, and a stick of butter or margarine.

The potato ricer, an Essential Tool for smooth lefse dough

Results of using said ricer

Then we make balls of the dough that are about the size of racquetballs, and chill them.  This allows the dough to come together and relax a bit. 

The lefse rolling process is similar to pie crust, but with a rilled rolling pin, and the cooking process is similar to that of tortillas, with aid of the Magic Lefse Stick.

JZ, ready to roll

Here is JZ, about to roll out a lefse ball.  She’s a newbie to lefse this year, and new to our group.  When she’s not teaching chemistry, she likes to cook large pieces of meat, and to make hard cheese.  She’s the first person I’ve met who has a cheese press.  I liked her immediately, and she’ll hopefully be at the January charcuterie day that I’m planning.

On the Grill

Now our lefse is grilling at about 425 degrees on an ungreased grill.  When it gets bubbly, it is ready to be flipped with the Magic Lefse Stick, and briefly cooked on its second side.  Afterwards, it is removed, to a plate or a damp dishtowel to cool.

The cooked lefse

The cooked lefse are pale, in general, with slight brown spots.  This photo shows a good view of the rilled rolling pin, which has lots of flour in the grooves to prevent sticking. 

Thinness is a desired characteristic of Norwegian lefse.  Most of the people I’ve made lefse with have a story about an aunt or neighbor who was the local Lefse Police, making judgement on the quality of work by the family cooks.  Personally, I’ve noticed that I get better at rolling over the course of our day, and that the dough itself rolls better when colder, and as the dough gets more relaxed. 

After the lefse are all cooked and cooled, they are always folded in fourths, separated with pieces of wax paper, and stored in large zipper bags.  

Tradition in some families is to serve lefse with butter and brown sugar, but I like my lefse with savory foods like scrambled eggs and bacon (I’ll ignore your shock at this revelation).  I also just like them plain.

I always have fun with this group, and I’m glad I’ve been invited to join this tradition.

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2 Responses to For the Love of Lefse

  1. Ingrid says:

    the lovely lefse you gave us did not last longer than a day…

  2. Jennifer says:

    Glad to hear it was well received. Perhaps we should make more in the New Year?

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