What is Scandinavian Potato Lefse? And How Is Lefse Made?
Have you ever tried a lefse recipe? Unless you are of Norwegian or Swedish heritage, or live in Minnesota, you may not know about one of our traditional foods: potato lefse.
Lefse is a Scandinavian type of flatbread similar in size and shape to a tortilla. A lefse recipe contains simple basic ingredients: potatoes and flour.
It is most often spread with butter, sprinkled with sugar, then rolled up and eaten as a "sweet treat."
Lefse is also often used as a "wrap" for meats, cheeses or any other filling that you might use for a sandwich.
Especially near the holiday season, you may be able to find a restaurant that serves lefse.
The lefse is best when baked on lefse griddle however we have also had good success making it on a stovetop pancake griddle as well.
There are lots of lefse recipe books and lefse making tools available to help you learn to make this tasty treat.
Several Versions of Potato Lefse Recipes
Traditional Potato Lefse Recipe: (this is my Norwegian mother-in-law's recipe; the photo is of my great-niece learning to make lefse.)
3 c. cooled, mashed potatoes
3 c. sifted flour
1 tsp. salt
1 T. sugar
2 T. shortening or butter
2 T. cream or half & half
Mix all ingredients together. Using one T. of dough at a time, roll thin on a floured board. Bake on both sides (turning once)on a pre-heated griddle until a few light brown spots form on each side. Cool on dish towels, keeping each piece separate from the others.
To serve: Spread with butter; sprinkle with sugar; roll up. Enjoy!
Potato Flake Lefse Recipe:
3 cups dry potato flakes (Hungry Jack is one brand; any type will work)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup water (approximately)
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
Mix salt and potato flakes in a bowl. Put butter in one cup measuring cup and add water to make 1 cup, put in sauce pan and bring to a boil. Mix into potatoes with fork.
Add milk and mix thoroughly. Cover tightly and refrigerate one hour until cool. After cooled, work flour in with your hands and roll into balls ( about golf ball size). Cover tightly and
refrigerate overnight or until thoroughly chilled.
Roll out and bake on a lefse grill that has been preheated to 500 degrees.
One More Potato Lefse Recipe
This is a larger recipe that includes more detail about preparation, lefse-making tools and serving and storage of lefse.
2 lbs. (approx. 4 cups) Russet potatoes
1/3 cup softened, unsalted butter (not margarine)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Approx. 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
large pot for cooking potatoes
mixing bowl and spoon
single- or double-cut rolling pin and cloth cover
wooden lefse turner
dish towels or other linens to cool the lefse
lefse grill or electric griddle
Lefse making equipment and ingredients will include many things you already have in your kitchen. You may want to purchase a few others.
Note:The potato lefse dough should be prepared and refrigerated at least 8 hours before baking.
Peel potatoes and cut into evenly-sized pieces. Place peeled and chopped potatoes in large pot, add water just to cover. Bring to a boil, cook until soft. Do not overcook; they will absorb too much water, and the dough will be too sticky.
Drain completely, mash thoroughly or rice; there must be no small lumps to interfere with rolling out the dough.
Transfer mashed potatoes to a bowl. Stir in butter, cream, and salt; mix well. Stop mixing just after all ingredients are incorporated; too much mixing will make the potato lefse tough.
Add flour, work dough into a ball; if the dough is very sticky, add a little more flour.
If you notice black flecks on the potato lefse dough after refrigeration, don't worry; this is from oxidation of the potatoes, and is harmless.
Divide the potato lefse dough into four pieces, roll by hand into logs. While warm, the dough should roll fairly easily without sticking; lightly flour the work area if it does. Tightly wrap each log in plastic; place in refrigerator to chill for at least 8 hours. Refrigerated dough will keep up to 3 to 5 days; however, the dough becomes stickier the longer it is refrigerated.
Rolling out and baking Norwegian lefse:
Preheat your lefse grill or electric griddle to 350°F.
If you're new to making Norwegian lefse, roll out a few pieces of dough first and then bake them. As you develop a rhythm, you'll be able to roll out one piece of dough while baking another.
Lightly flour your work area and cloth-covered single- or double-cut rolling pin. Cut one of the logs of dough into 8 equal pieces. While turning it once or twice, flatten one piece of dough to a disk less than 1/4" thick. Using the rolling pin, gently roll out the dough, starting from the center of the disk and moving outward. Rotate the rolling direction a quarter turn on each stroke. Turn the dough over occasionally and keep the work area lightly floured.
Helpful hint: Using a wooden lefse turning stick makes transferring and turning the dough a cinch!
When the lefse griddle or electric griddle is ready, slide the lefse turner underneath the potato lefse dough, then sweep underneath to separate it from the pastry board. Position the turner under the middle of the rolled out dough and gently lift it from the board onto the lefse grill; use the same technique when it's time to grill the other side.
Cook the potato lefse dough for 45 to 60 seconds, or until lightly speckled with gold, but not brown; flip the lefse and grill the other side. When done cooking, transfer into a folded dish towel to cool; cover the lefse to keep it moist.
While the lefse is still warm, serve with butter and sugar, honey, jam, smoked meats and cheeses, or any of your other favorite toppings!
Servings: Makes 32 rounds of 8" to 10" Norwegian lefse.
To store: Store cooked Norwegian lefse at room temperature or for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator, stack on a plate and wrap tightly in plastic; separate each lefse round with wax paper if they stick together. Reheat in a medium-hot skillet, electric griddle, or microwave.
Watch a Lefse-Making Video!
This video shows lefse-making for a large group. A familiar scene for those who have fond memories of traditional Scandinavian church suppers where lutefisk and lefse were the star items on the menu.