Lefse – A Holiday Tradition


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Ingredients:lefse pieces
  • 3 cups potato flakes
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup powdered milk
  • 1 2/3 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 stick margarine, not butter – butter makes the mixture too thick
  • 1 1/2 cups flour (plus a lot more for rolling the dough)

Mix together dry ingredients and set aside. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil and add the stick of margarine; let dissolve. Pour the water over the dry ingredients; mix well. Let dough cool, then add 1 1/2 cups flour. Roll the dough into a log and store it in the refrigerator overnight. Heat the griddle to 400°F. Cut dough into sections and roll it flat. Place dough on the grill and cook until golden brown; watch for bubbles in the dough.

Tip – Flour is your friend. Use it on the rolling pin and the pastry board to make rolling easier. Use it on your hands and the dough to avoid getting it stuck to your fingers.

 Helpful Items for Making Lefse

I never noticed this as a child, but making lefse works a lot better with certain items. I’ve never tried to make it without these items, but I would imagine one could improvise if necessary. Here are some items that might come in handy, accompanied by descriptions to help clear up any confusion.

lefse tools

  • Lefse stick – a long handled flipping implement
  • Lefse griddle – a large, flat griddle that is painfully hot when accidentally bumped
  • Pastry board – a circular board made out of wood
  • Pastry cloth – a cloth cover that goes on the pastry board
  • Corrugated rolling pin – a rolling pin with grooves
  • Rolling pin cover – a cover for the rolling pin
  • Potato ricer – a handy tool that eliminates lumps if you choose to boil potatoes instead of using potato flakes
  • Ziploc gallon bags – re-sealable bags used for storing finished lefse
  • Paper towels – disposable cloth-like papers used for wiping up messes
  • Flour – a powdery substance that gets all over everything

Memories and Traditions

This recipe isn’t a difficult one, but it does require a lot of time and counter space. We would dedicate an entire day during the holiday season where we’d make lefse, and maybe a couple of other things if we had time. We would put on Christmas music and spend the day working with the dough. It was usually a good day filled with singing and joking around. By the end of it, I was usually worn out and covered in flour (though I’m still lefse rolling pinnot sure why this only happened to me).

Rolling out the dough was my least favorite job because I was terrible at it. I wouldn’t put enough flour on the rolling pin, so the dough would stick; I would roll too fast and end up with holes in the dough; or I’d end up with a rather misshapen piece of lefse that wasn’t satisfying. I preferred flipping, though this was still a difficult feat.

Lefse dough is really thin, so it took patience and a steady hand to slowly work the lefse stick underneath it. Many holes were poked through neatly rolled circles of dough. When successful however, you’d get the satisfaction of unrolling the dough onto the griddle. Then you’d watch the flipping lefselittle bubbles form and slowly flip the lefse over.

The other job I enjoyed was cleaning the griddle. All this consisted of was wiping the surface with a paper towel, but it was weirdly satisfying. It also needed to be done after every few pieces of lefse; and it needed to be done quickly so you wouldn’t burn your hand. Then it was a simple matter of putting the lefse in a Ziploc bag with a damp paper towel and storing it in the freezer until it was closer to Christmas.

Eat Up

rolled lefseLefse is a traditional Norwegian flatbread and a big part of my family’s Christmas traditions. I grew up eating it rolled up with butter and sugar, but there are plenty of other ways this flatbread can be enjoyed. I’ve even rolled up sausage links and eaten it that way. If you’ve had it before, what’s your favorite way of eating it? Mine is when it’s fresh off the griddle and still warm.

Thank you to my mum for providing me with this recipe and some great insights into the world of lefse!

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