Lefse is a Norwegian flatbread made with potatoes, cream, and a whole lot of care. Prepared and eaten at holiday gatherings, the tender bread requires finesse, experience, and many hands on deck to make properly. But, much like making homemade tortillas, the time and effort is worth it. Amy Thielen's recipe in The New Midwestern Table is a fine guideline for those wanting to dip their toes into lefse cookery. Her directions are clear, specific, and helpful. And even if your lefse is on the thick side, or if it never forms perfect circles, it'll still be a wonderful new bread to bring to your dinner table.
Why I picked this recipe: I have a Norwegian friend who could talk for days about lefse, and after all that talk I couldn't wait to try making my own.
What worked: These lefse were some of the best-tasting things to come out my kitchen this fall—regardless of the imperfections in my first attempts.
What didn't: Be sure to flour your counter thoroughly. The lefse will stick at pretty much any opportunity.
Suggested tweaks: If you don't own a potato ricer, you can approximate the texture by using a box grater. Just be sure to remove any errant lumps before mixing the dough. If you don't have a griddle, you can cook the lefse in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. There are specific lefse-making tools that can be found online and in stores in heavily Scandinavian areas of the country. If you want to make lefse part of your life, consider buying a lefse stick (to use instead of a spatula), a cloth-covered lefse board, and a cloth-covered lefse rolling pin.
Reprinted with permission from The New Midwestern Table: 200 Heartland Recipes by Amy Thielen. Copyright 2013. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:Makes about 36 lefse
- Active time: 1 hour
- Total time:1 hour and 40 minutes, plus 3 hour to overnight rest
- 4 large (2 1/2 pounds) russet potatoes, unpeeled
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 3 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
Put the potatoes in a saucepan, add enough water to cover generously, and salt the water. Cover and cook at a slow simmer over medium heat until the potatoes are tender when poked with a fork, about 40 minutes. Drain, and push through a ricer into a bowl, discarding the skin. Measure 7 cups very lightly packed riced potatoes into a large bowl (save the rest for another purpose).
Immediately add the cream, oil, sugar, and salt to the potatoes and mix until smooth. Let cool to room temperature, and then store in the refrigerator, uncovered, until very cold, at least 3 hours and preferably overnight.
Preheat an electric griddle to 450°F.
Add the flour to the potato dough and mix with a wooden spoon to combine. Scoop up a golf-ball-size ball of dough and pat it into a 3-inch-diameter round on a heavily floured surface. Roll out the lefse, letting the roller sit lightly in your hands so that its weight flattens the dough into a 6-inch-diameter round. Run your flat lefse stick (or thin spatula) underneath the dough and flip it onto the hot griddle. Cook until brown spots form on both sides, about 1 minute; you want it cooked through but still pliant enough to roll. Stack the lefse on a plate, and when they are cool, store the pile in a plastic bag at room temperature.