Art of lefse making flourishes in local homes
I have never made lefse but I have watched it being made each year by good friends of Norwegian heritage who make the same recipe as passed down by their families.
They whip out a batch in an afternoon, sometimes making it a social event of sorts, with everybody sampling the freshly finished product straight off the griddle.
The end result is absolutely delicious and nobody can stop at one piece.
With the Thanksgiving holiday past us now and the Christmas season fast approaching, I was just privy to another of these lefse-making events and, once again, the finished product was every bit as good as it always is.
Consequently, I thought the timing would be good to share a recipe for the delicacy, which seems to receive more emphasis this particular time of the year when family members gather to make the lefse as a group effort, many times involving the younger members to keep the tradition alive.
The recipe is the one our friends rely on every year to turn out some of the best lefse you'll find anywhere.
As a little bit of history, lefse is a traditional Norwegian flatbread, made out of potatoes, milk or cream and flour and cooked on a griddle.
Special tools are available for lefse baking, including long wooden turning sticks and a special rolling pin with deep grooves to roll out the lefse nice and thin and smooth.
There are significant regional variations in Norway in the way lefse is made and eaten, but it generally resembles flatbread, although in many parts of Norway, it is far thinner. In central Norway thin lefse is made, which is rolled up with butter, sugar and cinnamon, and eaten.
In many parts of our region those of us who don't personally make lefse but do enjoy it, there are lefse-making businesses who supply it to local grocery stories.
When it comes to eating lefse, there are many ways to top it. The most common is adding butter and rolling it up and eating it. Other options include cinnamon, or spreading on jelly or lingonberries. Scandinavian-American variations include rolling it with a thin layer of peanut butter and sugar, with butter and white or brown sugar, with butter and corn syrup, or with ham and eggs for a breakfast version.
And for all of you lutefisk lovers out there, lefse is also a traditional accompaniment, with the fish rolled inside the lefse and eaten that way.
Personally, I enjoy the lefse best either fresh from the grill rolled up with plenty of butter inside or with butter and a thin layer of peanut butter as suggested above.
What it all comes down to is personal preference, and what you are or are not used to. And if you've never tried lefse then the sky is the limit and anything goes.
For any of you out there pondering investing in the equipment necessary to give this Norwegian delicacy your own baking try, then this would be a relatively easy, delicious recipe to utilize in the process. Also remember that homemade lefse makes the perfect little holiday gift.
Until next week, from my kitchen to yours happy baking!
12 cups of riced white potatoes
(Peel and cook potatoes and then rice)
9 tbsp. of butter
¾ cup whipping cream
Mix all together and cool overnight in fridge
3 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
3 cups flour
Mix all together using hand held pastry utensil. Form into approximate tennis size balls and keep cool in fridge until ready to roll out lefse.
Heat the lefse grill. Take the dough out of fridge as you roll each one. Flour your rolling board. Roll out balls until as thin as you like sprinkling just a little flour on top as needed. Use a lefse stick to transfer the lefse sheets to the grill and to turn the lefse. Place fried lefse on towels until cool. Then fold in half and transfer to another location until all lefse is fried. Place cooled lefse in Zip-loc freezer bags. Refrigerate or freeze.