Lefse is to the Norwegian food tradition what corn tortillas are to Mexican cuisine or what cornbread is to American soul food. Part food delivery vessel, part meal accompaniment – while being substantive enough to be a meal on its own. There are countless recipes for lefse out there, and I’ve heard some say every family has their own recipe that has been handed down for hundreds of years. There are the purists who argue against eggs, cream or sugar in the dough and those who wouldn’t dare make lefse without them. I’ve had lefse with eggs and without – with potato and without, both equally good for different reasons.
For first timers, potato lefse is a lot less intimidating than thin or thick lefse, because the dough is a lot more forgiving. I’ve tested the below recipe over the last several years in Stavanger and found it the best one for new comers to lefse making. Ultimately, the amount of flour you will need for this depends on the hardness of the water in your area and the mill of the flour in your area (how finely the flour in ground) but my measurements give you a good place to begin. Just “listen” to and feel your dough as you go along and you should be able to get the dough just right.
While you want to make sure you get your lefse as thin as possible – nearly transparent when held up to a sunny window and with no breaks or holes in it – be sure to do this without over working the gluten due to excessing handling. This is a lot tougher than it seems – but I find using a sweeping roll out method with a rolling pin works best. Begin with the rolling pin not on top on the dough, but rather as a part of the rolling motion by which the dough also happens to be a part of. The workout you’ll get from rolling these beauties out will make up for all of the butter and sugar you smear on the inside. Be sure to cook them just until the dough begins to get those lovely tan (dark tan to brown) spots on them as it will continue to cook slightly after you take it out of the pan.
As a last note, lefse freeze well so feel free to make two batches, or freeze any leftover you have.
- 500g (1 lbs.) starchy, all-purpose potatoes
- 60g (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 60ml (1/4 cup) heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 120-180g (1 to 1½ cups) all-purpose flour
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters.
- Place the potatoes into a medium sized pot, add in a tablespoon of salt and cover with cold water.
- Bring the pot up to a boil, and allow them to cook for about 20 minutes, or until they are soft and break apart when pricked with a fork.
- Once the potatoes are finished, drain them and allow them to cool completely.
- Using a potato ricer, pass the potatoes through the ricer twice into a mixing bowl to ensure there are absolutely no clumps in the mash. If you do not have a potato ricer, use a potato masher or the back of a fork to mash the potatoes completely. Remember, you want no chunks or clumps.
- Add the butter, cream and salt to the potatoes and stir until completely combined.
- Place the mash into the fridge overnight or for at least 8 hours.
- The next day, add 120g/1 cup of flour to the potato mash and mix it together. The mix should clump together quite easily and not be sticky. If you dough is sticky, add more flour, up to 60g/ ½ cup in addition.
- Once the mix has clumped together, knead it on a floured countertop for 2-3 minutes. After the dough is kneaded, portion it into 10-12 equal sized portions, then roll each portion between your hands into balls. Using a rolling pin on a floured surface, roll each ball into a very thin disc. You want to get your lefse as thin as possible, but be careful as it might break part. Also, as you roll each ball into a disc, remember to keep the other balls covered with a tea towel so they don’t dry out.
- To cook the lefse, warm a cast iron skillet, crepe pan, pancake pan or griddle over medium-high heat, and once it’s good and hot, carefully transfer the lefse and cook it until it starts to spot with tan colored spots.
- Place the lefse on a plate after cooking, and create a stack of lefse as you cook through the dough. When half of your dough has been cooked, flip the entire stack over, allowing the heat from the most recently cooked flatbreads help keep the oldest ones soft. Also, make sure you cover the entire stack with a tea towel to keep them from drying out.
- When ready to eat, smear the inside of your lefse with butter, then sprinkle with sugar, roll up and eat. If you are feeing a crowd, cutting the lefse roll into smaller pieces before eating.