Lefse is a traditional Norwegian soft flatbread. It's one of the traditional foods that has been preserved in its homemade form by immigrants to the United States even after people in Norway stopped making it and started buying mass-produced lefse instead. Interestingly, for the most part, the kind of lefse that has been preserved as a tradition in the United States is a particular style of potato based flatbread, rolled thin as a crepe and served usually spread with butter and cinnamon-sugar and served as a dessert. However, historically in Norway, there were as many different styles of lefse as there were municipalities in Norway (ie. a lot): some potato based, some rye, some oat, some wheat, some paper thin, some thicker and fluffier. These lefse are based on the same dough as the potato lefse we learned to make from our neighbors in Minnesota, but then I made them smaller and thicker, more like a style of lefse called lompe, which has traditionally eaten around hot dogs or sausages (instead of a bun). You can make them without any special equipment, and while they're excellent around a hot dog, they're also really fantastic to use as a breakfast flat bread. I love them with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon or with butter and gjetost (a Norwegian brown goat cheese). —fiveandspice
about 10 small lefse
1 1/2 teaspoons
all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
In This Recipe
Peel the potatoes, cut them into even chunks, and boil them in a large pot of water, until just tender when poked with a fork. You don’t want them to be mushy. Drain the potatoes well. Next, make them into mashed potatoes: My favorite way to do so is to press them through a ricer into a large bowl and then fold in the butter, heavy cream, salt, sugar, and baking powder, making sure you get rid of any lumps. If you don't have a ricer, you can also combine the potatoes, butter, cream, salt, sugar, and baking powder in a bowl and use a handheld mixer to whip them up until they're smooth -- but make sure to stop as soon as they are smooth. If you whip them too long, they get gummy.
Place a cloth over the mashed potatoes and refrigerate them at least 7 hours, or overnight.
When ready to cook the lefse, heat a dry, cast iron skillet (at least 8 inches) over medium-high heat. Using your hands, mix the 3/4 cup flour into the cold potatoes, until you have a uniform shaggy dough. Roll the dough into balls about the size of a ping pong ball. On a floured surface, one ball at a time, roll the lefse into rounds that are about 1/8-inch thick or a little thicker. Leave the unrolled lefse in the fridge while you're working so it stays chilled. Griddle the lefse one at a time in the skillet. Cook on the first side until it develops splotches that range from light brown to deep brown (around a minute), then flip and cook the second side until splotchy (about another 30 seconds). Then, transfer the cooked lefse to a cooling rack. Continue in the same way with the remaining lefse balls.
Serve the lefse with scrambled eggs and smoked fish, or cheese and jam, or gjetost, or butter and cinnamon-sugar, or hot dogs, or really any topping that appeals to you. Lefse can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days. Rewarm before serving, or you can seal it tightly in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 1 month.
I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (www.vikredistillery.com), where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.