Leave it to me to start a French-inspired lifestyle blog and then write non-stop about my Norwegian heritage. I guess the thin potato pancakes aren't so different from crêpes. Except I'm not sure lefse could handle any filling other than the traditional butter, cinnamon and sugar.
If you think about it, lefse is a bit odd. You're eating potatoes for dessert. In any case, I grew up eating lefse at family gatherings and holidays.
Since my grandma passed away, my Uncle Bob has carried on the tradition. On a recent visit, I asked him if he would show me the ropes on the whole lefse making process.
We were lucky enough to go the week the Tampa Bay area was experiencing their "coldest weather in four years." We weren't expecting beach weather, but we weren't quite prepared for 45 degrees either. So what did we do? Roll up our sleeves and bust out the lefse griddle!
This was my first time making lefse. I knew it would be a lot of work, but still didn't realize the amount of time and equipment involved. Luckily we had Largo, my aunt and uncle's African grey parrot, to oversee everything.
You need to dedicate at least half a day to making it and the other half to cleaning up afterward. We prepped everything in the morning, because the dough is easiest to handle when it's been refrigerated for a few hours.
First, you peel five pounds of potatoes. In the beginning, the recipes for lefse and mashed potatoes are remarkably similar. Boil the potatoes until they're soft, but not falling apart.
Then you mash the potatoes using a ricer. A potato ricer is a curious kitchen tool that basically does the work of a food processor but manually. Most commonly used to make mashed potatoes, a ricer can also be used to purée cooked veggies and fruit.
Once you've put the potatoes through the ricer, you add cream, butter, salt and flour to make a dough. Roll the dough into balls. Put in the fridge for a least 2-3 hours.
When you're ready to fry the dough, remove the balls from the fridge. Sprinkle flour on a clean surface, and roll out the dough. We used a special ridged rolling pin for this part that gets the pieces extra thin. The tricky part is rolling it out so it's paper thin, but not falling apart.
Then, you take the lefse stick, slide it underneath the piece of lefse you've just rolled out, and lift it up ever so gently. You then roll the lefse out onto the griddle. This is where I tore a hole in my piece and my aunt said, "That's okay. We eat our mistakes!"
Watch my uncle to see how it's done by clicking on the image below!
Wait for the lefse to bubble (around 3 minutes) before flipping over. Give it another few minutes, and set to the side, starting a pile of finished pieces. We kept ours wrapped in a cloth to prevent the dough from drying out or getting too crispy.
When you're finished frying the lefse, you can either store the folded pieces as-is in a plastic bag, or you can prepare them. Either way, it stays pretty fresh up to a week in the fridge. Sometimes we freeze half to eat later. I like my lefse with butter, and sprinkled generously with cinnamon and sugar. Some people, like my Uncle Bob, prefer just butter.
So there you have it. Homemade lefse!