Sunday, December 23, 2012

Lefse (Norwegian Potato Crepes)



There are some dishes that, upon hearing about them for the first time, you're immediate reaction is "hm."  Sometimes that is warranted, but sometimes you need to try the dish to understand how delicious it is. Lefse is one of those dishes.

Lefse is a Norwegian holiday dish that consists of thinly rolled potato-crepes cooked on a griddle, covered with various toppings, and rolled up into a cylinder. The idea of crepes made from potatoes and served with sweet dressings can at first sound a bit odd, mostly because here in the U.S. potatoes are pretty much served entirely as a savory item. Very rarely are they ever utilized in sweets. After eating lefse for the first time two years ago in Missoula, Montana with Jeremy's grandparents, I realized that this was a terrible mistake. Potatoes should be used in sweets ALL THE TIME. They give a wonderful fluffiness and softness to the crepes that flour alone just can't provide. Imagine a cake with that kind of warm and fluffy texture! Heavenly.


Of course, some people do top their lefse with savory items like cooked meats, but from what I have gathered, the standard is to top them with a bit of melted butter, cinnamon, and sugar. The reason for this is that it is the most delicious topping of all. (It reminded me of an elephant ear that hadn't been deep-fried! Which convinced me that lefse is healthy. Or at least healthier than elephant ears.) I also spread some warm nutella on them and rolled 'em up, which was an excellent choice.


Lefse is definitely one of the trickiest things I've ever made, but once you get the hang of it it's more than worth the effort. It is only made around Christmas-time, which also makes it something that's fun to make with your family. One person can be rolling out the dough while the other person is cooking them on the griddle, etc. Many of the recipes I came across called for the lefse to be rolled out until it's paper thin, but I wasn't able to get it thinner than 1/4 of an inch thick without it tearing and falling apart, and in the end I liked it a bit thicker because it was nice and fluffy inside. So don't kill yourself trying to get it thinner than 1/4 of an inch thick, I think it takes years of practice to get to that level of lefse-making.


If you do decide to make lefse, there are some specialty items you'll need to acquire in order to make them, which I list in the ingredients below. I also recommend watching this video so you have an idea of how to use the lefse turner to move around the lefse.

Now, if I don't get a chance to post again before Tuesday, I want to wish you all the merriest of Christmases and hope you have a wonderful time with your family, friends, and heaps of good food!



Ingredients:

5 lbs Russet Potatoes, peeled and rinsed
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Sugar (plus some more for serving)
2 Tablespoons Butter, melted (plus some more for serving)
1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
3/4 Cup Flour (plus more for rolling)
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon (plus more for serving)
Nutella (optional for serving)

Specialty Items:

Linen fabric to cover the rolling surface


 Completely cover the potatoes with water in a large pot and boil them until they are very tender, about 40-50 minutes. Remove them from the water and put them through the potato ricer over a large bowl until all the potatoes have been crushed. If you have a food processor you can just blend them.







Add the butter, cream, cinnamon, flour, and sugar and stir until  completely blended. Now test the dough. Take 1/4 cup of it and roll it into a ball between your hands, cover the rest of the dough and place it in the refrigerator. Roll the ball out on a well-floured surface using a rolling pin with a sleeve, and covering the surface with canvas (this works best if you roll them out onto a large cutting board and just wrap the cutting board in a piece of linen).

You need to be able to roll the dough out to 1/4 of an inch thick. It helps to take breaks while rolling to reflour the surface under the dough and the rolling pin, and sprinkling flour onto the dough as you roll it out. Flip it with the lefse turner to help keep both sides evenly floured. If you find that this first ball is very brittle and keeps falling apart, you need to add a bit more cream to the dough mixture in the fridge. If it isn't brittle, then the consistency is good. (It should normally be slightly sticky).


Preheat the griddle to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Make the rest of the dough into 1/4 cup balls and place them all on a plate in the refrigerator, taking each ball out of the fridge as you go. Roll a ball out again until it is a 1/4 inch thick.


Slide the lefse turner underneath the center of it and lift it up so it hangs off either side. Place the lefse on the griddle and keep flipping the turner until the entirety of the lefse sheet is now flat on the griddle.


Bubble-popping in action!

Cook for about 45-60 seconds on each side, or until it gets brown spots. Pop any air bubbles that arise by smacking them with the tip of the lefse turner (this part was really fun!) (Fyi, this video helps visualize the process of placing the lefse on the griddle better than I can explain it with writing, so definitely check it out).


Place the cooked lefse in between two pieces of canvas, linen, or cotton to help keep them moist while you continue to cook the rest of the lefse.


To serve, drizzle with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar before rolling the up. Feel free to use any kind of spreads you like though; nutella, jam, meats, the choice is yours!






16 comments:

  1. What a lovely post. My great grandmother in northern Minnesota would always make these when I was young. They were delicious with melted butter & cinnamon sugar. I may need to try this in her honor!

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    1. Please do! It is a lot of work but they taste so good and the feeling of accomplishment in the kitchen is very great once they're all done. It was just me and Jeremy making them, but I think if I had kiddos or more family around to help make them it would've gone a bit faster. Definitely recruit family members to help if you can :)

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  2. carol dec.23 2012 9:22 pm have been making lefsa for years,my mom got the recpie over 80 years ago from a lady from Norway.nothing like your recpie.mine is 8 cups riced patatoes cooked and mashed with at least 1 and a half cups of butter 2 teaspoones of salt and 2 cups of flour a teaspoon or 2 of suger,helps them to brown.roll out thin with flour so they don't stick to rolling pin,i use a groved rolling pin no cloth on rolling pin but cloth to roll on.otherwise its about the same.









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    1. That is so interesting! I have never used a grooved rolling pin before, I will have to try it when I make it next year. I think the butter and cream in both of our recipes serve to help keep the flour and potatoes all stuck together and moist, but perhaps next year I will try it with more butter rather than cream to see how it changes the flavor. Butter does make everything taste amazing! :)

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  3. What beautiful photos! These look just delicious and I'm sure even better with Nutella :)

    Sues

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    1. Indeed they are, Sues ;) Thanks so much!

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  4. so nice photo.. Looks similar to India chappathi
    http://great-secret-of-life.blogspot.com

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    1. Yes it has a nice spotted look to it, which always makes the fluffiness inside even more surprising and enjoyable :)

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  5. Thank you so much for posting this recipe! The mere mention of lefse is music to my ears. Our Norwegian family enjoys this around Christmas and around Syttendai Mai. I have made lefse in a frying pan before, and it turned out wonderfully. I also don't mind lefse with a bit of thickness.

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post! It was so fun to make and they're so tasty and wonderfully versatile. Can't wait to make them again next year, and it's good to know I can make them in a frying pan if my griddle putzes out :)

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  6. wow, your photography has such a wonderful moody quality in this post. I need to learn how to do this! Happy new year!

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    1. Thank you Dervla! It was a fun project, that is certain :) And Happy New Year to you too!

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  7. I just felt the need to tell you that your food photos are some of my favorite around. They are just my flavor. I'm sure you hear it all the time, but I just love everything you shoot. And not to forget the food... it all sounds delicious & is not in the least boring. I think I shall resolve to try one of your recipes, stat.

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    1. That really means a lot to me, because I really admire your blog and photography as well. Thank you so much.

      P.S. I am also a HUGE fan of your twitter feed. It never fails to crack me up. Your wit is winsome!

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  8. The trick to getting really thin lefse is using a grooved rolling pin and rolling from the center out in all directions. It leaves a nice pattern on the lefse. We make ours as large as the griddle and fold in fourths and then let steam/cool slowly between towels. It's definitely a family affair. I've been making lefse since I was old enough to stand and haven't missed a lefse making day for 50 years. As my Grama Es always said, "Many hands make light work".

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    1. Grama E sounds like a very smart woman! I will have to try the grooved rolling pin and roll-out from the center method next Christmas. It really was so much fun to make and is a tradition I plan on keeping :)

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