Brought to you by lefse fans in the Pacific Northwest...making perfect lefse through decades of fine tuning, trial and error, learning from other Norwegians, researching recipes, cooking classes, and many taste tests!
- Potatoes — 5 pounds (see notes below on potato type)
- Heavy cream — 3/4 cup
- Unsalted butter, softened — 1/2 cup (1 stick; 1/4 pound; 8 Tablespoons)
- Sugar — 1 1/2 Tablespoons
- Salt — 2 teaspoons
- Flour, all-purpose, sifted — 4 to 8 cups for dough; plus much more for rolling
- Scrub skins. Place in large pot. Add cold water, 2" - 3" over potatoes, and bring to boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer until a sharp knife easily penetrates potato with very slight resistance (45 to 60 minutes).
- Thoroughly drain the potatoes in a colander. Let them cool just enough to handle. Remove and discard peel. Cut out any black spots.
Rice the potatoes:
- While potatoes are still warm, use a potato ricer to mash them completely.
- If using an adjustable ricer, mash once with largest openings, then a second time with smallest openings.
Add butter, cream, sugar, salt:
- While the potatoes are still warm, add softened butter, cream, sugar, and salt. Mix thoroughly.
Refrigerate the dough:
- Cover the dough. Refrigerate no less than 10 to 12 hours, preferably overnight. This is important for allowing the starch to process fully.
Finish the dough with flour:
- Add the sifted flour, and mix just long enough to incorporate it.
- Finished dough texture should be slightly sticky, but smooth and elastic.
- By mixer: It is easier to finish dough in two batches. Use dough hook at slowest speed. For each half-batch, add 2 1/2 cups sifted flour to start, then 1/2 cup at a time until silky texture.
- By Bosch Kitchen Machine: Entire single batch can be done at once. Use dough hook at slowest speed. Add 4 cups sifted flour to start, then 1/2 cup at a time until silky texture.
- By hand: Sprinkle working surface with flour and gently knead 2 1/2 to 4 cups flour into dough.
Prepare lefse dough for cooking:
- Put dough on lightly floured surface and divide into 3 portions.
- Roll each portion into a log-shaped roll, 2" in diameter.
- Cut log-shaped dough into pieces and roll into balls. Ball size should be somewhat larger than a golf ball.
- Put dough pieces on a cookie sheet, and cover with plastic wrap or wax paper.
- Refrigerate until ready to roll. Cold dough is much easier to work with.
Roll out lefse:
- Sprinkle working surface generously with sifted flour before each piece. Flour your hands. Flour the rolling pin.
- With floured hand, slightly flatten one piece of refrigerated dough into a puck.
- Gently roll the puck from center of dough outwards. Change direction slightly with each roll, so dough spreads evenly into a round shape.
- Sprinkle lightly with flour as needed to prevent sticking.
- If needed, use a lefse stick to flip dough over and reflour one or more times during the rolling process. Keep working surface floured.
- Preheat lefse grill to 450° - 500° F.
- Transfer rolled lefse to griddle. Either use rolling pin, or lift the rolled dough with a lefse stick, tap it gently to shake off excess flour, and gently lay it out on the heated ungreased grill.
- If the lefse falls apart when you transfer it to the grill, it may be a sign that the dough is too moist (overcooked potatoes, too much cream, not enough flour), it has been rolled too thin, or it is sticking to the rolling surface.
- Flip it over as soon as brown spots just start to appear on underside (or slightly sooner). Don't overcook or lefse will be too dry!
- Remove it when brown spots appear on the second side. This is the "show side", with the traditional lefse appearance.
- Brush flour off grill with a dry cloth or waxed paper.
- Fold cooked lefse into quarters.
- Stack and store them in a way that keeps moisture in while they cool.
- Brush with softened butter; sprinkle with sugar; roll it up.
Other Useful Tips and Hints
Following these small details can make a huge difference in your lefse-making process!
- High-starch, low-moisture potatoes are preferred.
- Idaho Baker -- a russet that has the highest starch and lowest moisture.
- Maine, Eastern Russet, Finnish, and Yukon Gold -- considered "all-purpose" potatoes; medium starch and moisture; makes an easily-worked dough and slightly softer lefse than those made with reds or new whites. This one has worked well for us.
- Common Reds and New Whites -- Very low starch and high moisture; if these are used, select older ones rather than fresh ones.
- Weigh the potatoes in the grocery store so you know you have just over 5 pounds (allowing for skin and dark spot removal).
- Select potatoes that are all about the same size. This will ensure they all cook at the same rate.
- We do not promote the use of instant potatoes or potato buds for making lefse. We desire to stay true to our roots, and not start making "lephse" (fake lefse). That being said, many people use instant or buds because it is more convenient, and can taste pretty good with the right recipe.
Cooking the potatoes:
- Boiling them with skin on will help hold starch in.
- Start with cold water.
- Boiling them slowly helps avoid cracking the skin, and holds starch in.
- Potatoes may also be peeled, cubed, and cooked until fork-tender. Be sure to drain them well.
Mashing the potatoes:
- Using a potato ricer makes a much smoother, silkier dough. It is also less tiring on your hands.
- If a large amount of water squeezes out during ricing, the potatoes might be overcooked.
- A potato masher may be used instead of a potato ricer, but is more labor intensive.
- When mashed by hand, often small pieces of potato are left, leaving unmixed potato spots when the dough is rolled thin.
- After adding butter, cream, sugar, and salt, placing the dough in gallon-size ziplock bags for cooling overnight is very convenient.
- Use real butter; do not use margarine.
- Use real heavy or whipping cream; do not use whole milk.
- Use a good quality flour, like King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose flour. It is more expensive, but the results taste better.
Mixing the dough and flour:
- Sifting the flour will help create a smoother dough.
- Quantity of flour added to the dough varies greatly from batch to batch, and person to person. It depends on type of potatoes used, moisture of potatoes, and brand of flour used.
- A good bread mixer appliance such as the Bosch Kitchen Machine is helpful for mixing flour into the dough.
- Mix only until flour is incorporated. Overworking the dough will make the lefse tough.
- If mixing by hand, kneading it on a silicone non-stick pastry rolling mat is convenient.
- Adding too much flour will make the dough rubbery.
- After adding flour, placing the divided dough in gallon-size ziplock bags for refrigeration is convenient.
- Before rolling, making the patties smooth and round will prevent cracking of the lefse edges.
- A square-cut knobbed lefse rolling pin (such as this one) works better than a smooth rolling pin. The knobs help hold flour and air, and prevents sticking. Rub flour on the rolling pin before every roll.
- Having a filled flour sifter helps for flouring the rolling pin and pastry cloth before every roll. The sifted flour sticks to the pin better, and clumps less on the lefse sheet.
- Use light, even rolling pressure.
- When rolled thin enough, you should be able to just barely see the lefse stick through the dough.
- If dough sticks to the rolling pin, immediately scrape it very clean and add more flour before continuing.
- Do not use water when cleaning up your rolling pin, or it will turn into a sticky mess. Brush flour out of grooves with a dish brush. Blowing with Dust-Off is helpful also.
- If any dough sticks onto the pastry cloth, immediately scrape it off as completely as possible, and rub flour into the spot. Otherwise there will be more sticking in this spot. If it keeps sticking in that spot, switch to a clean cloth.
- Keep the surface well-floured. Using a flour sifter makes this quick and easy. Reflour before each new lefse rolling.
- A round pastry board and cloth set (such as this one) is convenient. It also has rubber feet to keep it from moving around during use.
- The wider, thinner sticks work better than the narrower thicker sticks.
- There is often a topside and a underside. The bevel should face up when sliding the stick under the lefse.
- When cooking lefse, the stick tends to get flour and dough stuck to it, especially at the tip. A metal kitchen dish scrubbing pad works well for removing accumulations while cooking without damaging the stick.
- Preheat griddle for 20 - 25 minutes at highest setting.
- Temperature may need to be adjusted after the first lefse is cooked.
- Different griddles will have different ideal lefse-cooking temperatures. Usually it is between 450° and 500°.
- Bethany Heritage grills (the most popular lefse grill) now come in two models; the original 730, and the 735 with non-stick finish. For mostly lefse-making, user reviews seem to lean towards the original rather than coated surface. For more cooking other than lefse, the scales tip towards the non-stick coated model.
- The long metal spike on the thermostat is the temperature sensor. Keep it clean, or the griddle might not hold the proper temperature. This temperature control probe might need to be replaced (here's one) when they get old.
- Replacement legs are also available for this long-lasting grill.
- I purchased my new grill from Creative Kitchen. They have excellent, personalized customer service, and very competitive prices.
- Be careful with anything abrasive for cleaning the grill surface. Many people innocently use a metal scrub pad, steel wool, or fine sandpaper, thinking it will clean the grill well; all of a sudden they have fine scratches which are permanent and will always increase sticking in those areas.
- A common mistake is to leave the lefse on the grill too long. This will dry it out, especially around the edges.
- Undercook the first side. Flip before any brown spots appear, or as soon as they first appear. This will help prevent overcooked dry lefse.
- Consider the second side the "show side" that has the iconic brown spots.
- Dough -- keeping it cool will make it much easier to work with. Divide dough into smaller portions. Have one portion out for rolling, but keep rest in refrigerator until ready to use.
- Warm lefse -- While it cools after cooking, keeping the lefse from drying out is important. Keeping moisture in while it cools will keep the lefse tender.
- Stacking in a Tupperware®-like container helps retain moisture. No need to keep the lid on during the cooking process.
- A sheet of deli wrap such as this one (boxes sometimes sold at Costco) can be placed in between each cooked lefse piece.
- Allow to cool completely before sealing and storing; otherwise lefse will be soggy.
- Cooled lefse -- seal and store in air-tight containers, ziplock bags, or a good plastic wrap. If kept in ziplock freezer bags, they can be kept in freezer for 6 months or longer.
- Alternate layers of lefse and deli wrap in a gallon ziplock bag to keep them from sticking together.
Preparation for eating:
- Microwave the lefse sheet for a couple of seconds before unfolding it,until just barely warmed. This will help to keep it from breaking at the seam, and help the butter spread evenly.
- Butter the lefse with melted butter and a pastry brush to get an even coating. Melted butter is much faster when preparing many pieces of lefse.
- Sugar can be better applied by using a sugar shaker.
- Having two people work together can make the lefse process faster, easier, and more predictable. One person rolls the dough and transfers to the griddle; the other person cooks the lefse and transfers to cooling area.
- Rolling can be tiring work. Trading tasks can prevent weary hands, arms, and back.
- Get the kids involved. By teaching them, they will continue this wonderful Norwegian tradition with their families!
- Large pot for boiling potatoes
- Measuring cup and spoons
- Potato masher
- Lefse griddle
- Lefse stick
- Rolling pin
- Towel for cooling lefse
- 2 large pots for boiling potatoes
- Large colander
- Measuring cup and spoons
- Lefse grill
- 2 Lefse sticks (one for the roller person, one for the cooking person)
- Rolling pin, square-cut
- Pastry cloth x2
- Potato ricer
- Bosch Universal Kitchen Machine
- Flour sifter
- Gallon-size Ziplock® bags
- Tupperware®-like container
- Deli wrap sheets
Other names for lefse:
- Norwegian potato lefse
- Norsk potetlefse
Troubleshooting Lefse Cooking:
|Lefse falls apart when transferred to griddle.||
|Large amount of water squeezes out when ricing the potatoes.||
|Unmixed potato spots seen in dough.||
|Black spots in lefse||
|Dough sticking to mat or pin when rolling.||
|Rolled lefse has uneven shape or edges.||
|Rolled lefse has cracked edges.||
|Cooled lefse is dry.||
|Cooled lefse is brittle or crunchy.||
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