Norwegian Flatbread: Lefse

Lefse rolling, copyright

Potato Ricing Tool, copyright

Lefse is a Norwegian flatbread made with Potatoes.  Many cultures have similar types of bread with varied degrees of thickness.  Most unleavened flatbreads are rolled thin for optimum delicate texture.  My Norwegian relatives served the flatbread primarily with butter and offered granulated sugar or jam.  As a child I quickly learned [read more]to spread butter thinly to the very edge so the sugar crystals would stick all over.  Once the butter and sugar is spread evenly, I prefer to roll tightly  and cut into lengths for dainty consumption.  Eating Lefse politely is an art.  I would judge the level of politeness on how much sugar spills out (hopefully on your plate) when you lift the roll to your mouth.  Never lower your mouth to the plate!

Have you figured out that my childhood was disciplined?  My Father was 100% Norwegian.  His sisters (my Aunts) were my idols.  They loved me by teaching me the correct ways of life through work.  Work may simply be defined as “no idleness” with the resulting product being mastered skills.  Busy, nimble hands learn creativity.  I consider myself a master at many simple tasks and some more complicated like classical Piano.  My Norwegian Aunt Marveda (I was compared to her) would prepare a gift box filled with Norwegian treats and pack the box surrounded by edible popcorn.  Gifts made by hand are forever remembered and carry the culture to the next generation.  I inherited my Lefse Iron (that happens to be electric) from the family.  There was a condition with this gift, “don’t use it to make pancakes”.  I have kept that promise to date.

My method for preparing the boiled potatoes for the recipe uses an old fashioned ricer (see photo).  This method allows the extruded potatoes to mix without lumps that show up when rolled thin.  A simple recipe follows and may be adjusted as results vary depending on the type of Potato used.


Half a dozen medium sized Potatoes

1 Cup Cream or Half & Half

1 teaspoon Salt

5-6 cups flour (Wheat may be used)

Wash and peel potatoes.  Boil until a fork penetrates into a soft center.  I prefer to pressure cook Potatoes for 10 minutes, releasing the pressure with the “Quick Release” method as per manufacturer’s directions.  Drop 1 whole Potato at a time into the Ricer and press the handles together to extrude the potatoes into a bowl.  Add the Cream, seasoning and flours mixing well while checking for a consistency  that will be similar to a pie crust dough.  Knead the dough a little to “knit” it together prior to rolling.  Separate dough into balls and roll (using extra flour if needed) to the size of your Lefse iron or cast iron large fry pan.  Test a ball by rolling out thinly to determine circumference.  You may want to try a smaller size to learn the trick of turning the thin sheet of flatbread.

Place flat sheet on Lefse iron until golden brown bubbles appear.  Turn over once and complete the same.  It should be mentioned that a long spatula (thin cake frosting spatula works well) of wood or thin metal will help lift and turn the sheet.

Once completed fold in half and half again to stack on a serving platter or package to refrigerate or freeze.

Serve with your favorite spreads.  Traditionally Sweet Cream Butter, Sugar and Lingonberry Jam are preferred.  I will add Pickled Herring to that list and Sardines packed in Olive Oil.

Karen Jo encourages group participation in the making of Lefse.  Children enjoy using the ricer and frankly, this is an exercise that strengthens hands of all sizes.

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