Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Lefse

on December 8, 2014

Today’s recipe for Lefse is a traditional Christmas treat for those of us with Scandinavian heritage. It’s technically Norwegian, but all Scandinavians love it. We had some lefse in Norway that was amazing – unlike anything I’ve ever had before. It just melted in your mouth! We’re not quite to that point with our lefse making yet, ours aren’t perfect, but we’ll keep trying!

Grandma was Swedish and Grandpa was Norwegian and Danish, and they both loved lefse. We started having them make it with us so they could tell us stories of what they remembered of lefse and holidays growing up. Grandma had many stories of Christmas when she was young and of going to the Swedish midnight church service, or Julotta, on Christmas Eve. This was the church of which her family were founding members, and she and Grandpa were members of their whole married life. I once asked Grandpa if his Norwegian mother made lefse all year or only at Christmas time and he said, “only at Christmas”, but he also told us of his family receiving a Christmas Box – food and treats from someone his mother knew in the twin cities area. He was very emotional as he told of how they waited for and looked forward to getting that box. His mother was widowed when Grandpa was 2 years old and she was left with 6 children and a farm to run on her own.

Lefse is another one of those special treats that is made from the things that Scandinavian farmers (and others) seemed to have plenty of: potatoes, flour, sugar, and butter. Traditionally, we make it the day after Thanksgiving and the recipe we use comes from the cookbook put out by the women of the church Grandma and Grandpa belonged to. The whole family gets involved – even if it’s just for the eating part! You can find all the equipment you need to make lefse at Bethany Housewares here.

Lefse

You can see all the notes we’ve written on this recipe over the years. We’ve tried others, but this one is the one we’ve stuck with! You get a couple of bonus recipes here – give them a try, too!

Here is the recipe as we made it:

Lefse

5 cups of warm mashed potatoes (use a ricer to get a more even texture than just mashing, as lumps of potato that don’t get mashed fine enough can cause the dreaded “wet spots”)

5 tablespoons of lard (I used butter)

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons sugar

Blend the first 3 ingredients and chill.

Add the flour and sugar and mix well.

Roll portions very thin and fry on ungreased griddle.

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The mixture looks like mashed potatoes.

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Roll the portions into balls, but keep them chilled. We like to use smaller portions so they’re easier to handle when buttering, rolling, and eating.

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We roll them out on a pastry cloth and use a “sock” for Grandma’s old rolling-pin. A lefse stick is helpful to pick up the dough from the cloth and lay out on the griddle. Be careful not to use too much flour for rolling, but also be careful of the dreaded “wet spot”. That’s when the dough is too wet (or has a lump of un mashed potato in it) and you don’t have enough flour to counteract that and it makes a wet spot on the pastry cloth. It’s hard to get rid of once it shows up. We all (including the kids) take turns and practice all aspects of Lefse Day: rolling, frying, and eating.

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This is an official lefse griddle, but you can use a regular griddle or even a dry fry pan. We’re using a lefse stick here – it’s nice and thin and makes it easy to flip the lefse.

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Grandma was particular about how the lefse was fried. She didn’t like them to be too brown or too crispy. Some of us like them that way, so we try to do it both ways. Cooling them on paper towels on a baking sheet helps prevent them from getting too damp. If you’re going to eat them right away, I recommend storing them in the refrigerator – if they even last that long. We bag them in freezer bags and TRY to hide them until Christmas.

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There’s nothing like lefse warm from the griddle, and we all have to have our share of it that way, but it’s really good any time. Some of us like it with butter, cinnamon, and honey. Some like butter with cinnamon and sugar. I know there are people who put all kinds of things on it, but this is traditional for us.

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So butter it up, put on your favorite toppings, roll it up, and enjoy!

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Lefse is a bit of a chore to make, but it’s worth it. It may not be perfectly made lefse, but it’s one way we keep our traditions, and those ancestors who came before us, close. Lefse Day is more about being together and telling stories and eating the warm stuff, anyway. It’s an important Scandinavian tradition for our family – it wouldn’t be Christmas without it!

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4 responses to “Lefse

  1. mom says:

    Soooo fun and special to do now with the grandkids too and I can watch, plus snitch! Grami

  2. […] treats. Oh how my family loves that traditional Norwegian specialty, lefse. I did post a recipe for Lefse last year, but since then, my mom has found even more of Grandma’s recipes and here is one […]

  3. […] day (I’ve posted about a couple of those other cookies – Sanbakkelse, Spritz Cookies, Lefse, and Lefse #2) where my mom comes and one or both of my daughters, so the baking of all these […]

  4. […] and turning it down, but these got a bit tougher and crisper than we like. I prefer the recipes for Lefse and Lefse #2 to this […]

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