How to make lefse: a Minnesota holiday tradition
Nearly every culture has their own take on flatbread. And while the Indian naan, Mediterranean pita and Central American tortilla (among many others) all make a tasty edible plate for all kinds of toppings, this time of year, in this part of the country, affections turn to lefse.
First brought to America by Norwegian settlers, lefse was born from scarcity. The original recipe called for flour and produced a thin, brittle cracker that could be stored all winter long. When it came time to eat, it was dipped in water to soften and smeared with butter and sugar.
But then, over 250 years ago, the potato arrived in Norway. They were easy to grow and abundant across the country, and home cooks kept busy dreaming up new ways to introduce this starchy vegetable into existing recipes. When Norwegian settlers began to plant roots across the upper midwest in the 1800s, they brought the recipe for this unique flatbread with them.
Today, lefse has become a staple of the Minnesota holiday table. It’s easy to make, delicious to eat and serves as an excellent delivery device for ingredients both savory and sweet. You can even freeze it up for up to six months — that’s almost long enough to get you through a Minnesota winter!
LEFSE (makes 15 servings)
This version comes from Allrecipes.com. We like it for its ease, simple ingredients, and taste which is awful close to grandma’s.
Also, you don’t need a special lefse griddle to turn out a good finished product, though a potato ricer will make your job a lot easier and result in a much smoother dough than a masher or fork can offer.
- 10 pounds of potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup butter
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- Cover potatoes with water and cook until tender. Run hot potatoes through a potato ricer. Place into a large bowl. Beat butter, cream, salt, and sugar into the hot riced potatoes. Cool to room temperature.
- Stir flour into the potato mixture. Pull off pieces of the dough and form into walnut size balls. Lightly flour a pastry cloth and roll out lefse balls to ⅛-inch thickness.
- Cook on a hot (400-degree) griddle until bubbles form and each side has browned. Place on a damp towel to cool slightly and then cover with another damp towel until ready to serve.
Tradition dictates adding nothing but butter and maybe a little cinnamon-sugar before rolling the lefse up like a cigar and enjoying. But, since the lefse falls somewhere between a crepe and a tortilla, all manner of sweet and savory fillings or toppings fit the bill. Our favorites? Chocolate and banana for sweet, ham and cheese for savory.
We hope this recipe becomes a part of your holiday traditions. And don’t worry if you make too many. We’re happy to drop by and take a few off your hands!
(photo courtesy of iStockPhoto.com)