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Lefse Recipe: You asked for it, right?

Ever since I posted my story about making lefse with my grandma, I’ve been getting steady traffic coming to my blog looking for a lefse. Of course, this is the season for lefse making, so that’s natural. Plus, cooking it together is a great activity to do with children who are on vacation. So here’s our family recipe, with detailed instructions and Weight Watchers “point” count (as best as I can figure):


Cooking potatoes: Peel, cut into large chunks, and boil about 2 and 1/2 pounds of potatoes in salted water. (We always use Idaho russets, but I know Grandrud’s Lefse Shack uses a combination of red and white potatoes.) As soon as the potatoes are tender, drain them well — if possible put them on a baking sheet to let the steam escape. (It’s important to get the moisture out, or the lefse will require a lot of added flour later — yuk.)

Mashing: While still warm, the cooked potatoes should go through a ricer and back into the cooking pot, or mash them with whatever you typically use. (A ricer is best, though, because you must not have any lumps in the potatoes when you get to the rolling phase or you’ll have holes in your lefse.) Add an entire stick of butter and let it melt into the riced potatoes. (I use salted butter, but you can use unsalted and just add salt to taste later. Sometimes I use only half a stick of butter — feel free to lighten the recipe if you want — just do not add too much milk or cream to replace the butter — you do not want too creamy and moist mashed potatoes.) Add a half a cup of cream or half ‘n half. Mix and taste to make sure there’s enough salt. (You don’t want a really salty mixture, but there should be enough to bring out the flavor of the potatoes.) Put the pot — without lid — in a cool spot, preferably the fridge, but any cold place will do, for several hours or overnight. (I usually make this the night before and do the next step in the morning.) Don’t freeze mashed potatoes, though! (Not that freezing will ruin it, but it will be harder to move onto the next step, and freezing could alter the process and outcome a little.)

Mixing and rolling lefse: Get your equipment out: a large cutting board or other rolling surface, rolling pin, electric griddle (or nonstick pans), spatula, pastry brush, and plate to receive cooked lefse. Take potatoes out of the fridge and break them apart with a fork so they are lighter (this just makes mixing easier). Add about one and a half cups of flour and gently mix it into the potatoes. Do not overmix. Grab a wad of dough about a quarter of a cup and work it in your hands, adding a little flour until it seems pliable enough to roll. Place the ball of dough on a floured board and sprinkle with more flour. Roll until thin (you are shooting for a little thinner than a flour tortilla and a little bit smaller diameter than a dinner plate). Watch for sticking and be sure to add more flour, if necessary, and move the spreading round of dough to avoid sticking. I use a pastry cloth and pastry rolling pin cover. This fabric enables me to roll with less flour. The key to rolling lefse is to walk that fine line between sticking to the board and incorporating too much flour (which makes the lefse dry)! If you are in doubt about how much flour to add, just add it to each ball. If one doesn’t turn out, it isn’t ruined. If you add too much flour to the whole pot of potatoes…well, there’s always sending away for lefse via US mail!

Cooking the lefse: Use a spatula (or a lefse-turner, if you own one!) to pick up the rolled lefse. Place it gently on the hot griddle. You can play with the temperature on your griddle or stove. I usually end up leaving it around 350 degrees F. Do NOT put any oil or spray or anything like that on the griddle. This is a dry “bake” process. You will see a little steam escape. You can check the bottom to see how it looks after a minute. What you want is for the lefse to be pale with a few light brown spots. Flip it and cook the other side. I use the pastry brush to brush off excess flour. You don’t have to do this, but I don’t like browned flour gumming up the pile of lefse on my receiving plate.

Eating lefse: The first lefse will probably look lopsided and be too wet or dry or something off. Taste it to find out what you need to do differently. I have found that usually the first lefse has too little flour, which means it sort of falls apart but is absolutely so tender and delicious! When you are ready to serve/devour these, spread butter or margarine on one side (no need to put on a lot — a thin coating works fine) and sprinkle cinnamon-sugar on top of the buttered side. Roll it up, butter and sugar on the inside. Alternative: spread with ligonberry or strawberry jam and roll up and eat! Grandma liked jam and usually ate about half her lefse this way. I am a purist and usually stick to the cinnamon-sugar.

Weight Watchers points: If you make as instructed above and spread a small amount of Brummel and Brown margarine instead of butter on the finished lefse, plus cinn-sugar, then each lefse is about 2.5 points. I plan to cut down the points a little next time I make it to try to get each down to 2 pts., probably by using less butter in the mashed potatoes and substituting 2 % milk instead of half ‘n half. Not a bad point count for a delicious treat. I make my lefse smaller than some people do. (Grandma taught me to make it the size that will fit on the dinner plate where we always stacked the cooked lefse.) So if you make your lefse larger, then you’ll need to adjust points accordingly. My trouble is that I can’t eat just one….

7 Responses

  1. Thanks for posting this. Maybe I’ll be able to give the recipe a try sometime. Sounds yummy!

  2. I was hoping I didn’t make the recipe too complicated sounding. Really it’s as simple as make some mashed potatoes, add flour, roll, and grill. Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Just to clarify two points that folks searched my site to find:

    (1) After cooking lefse you can freeze it if you do so right away in a tightly seeled bag. I wouldn’t leave it in there for long (cause I’d be stuffing it down my throat), but yes, cooked lefse can be frozen and gently thawed. Still delicious.

    (2) DO NOT leave uncooked lefse dough in the fridge and come back to it later! If you are not sure about whether you can finish making the whole batch in one fell swoop, separate out only the part of the mashed potatoes that you KNOW you can get through and mix that with the flour. You can put the rest of the potatoes back into the fridge and do a second batch later. But once you mix in the flour, you have to cook them!

  4. You could probably use fatfree half and half also if you want to cut down the points. I use it for my quiche and it works really well.

  5. Hmmm. Haven’t tried that before. The main problem for me is that I like to put a lot f butter in my lefse! But low-fat margarine doesn’t work becasue it’s got water, and water is what I want to avoid in the lefse mix. But the no-fat half-n-half might work.

  6. Oops I already made the lefse dough and plan on cooking it tomorrow. Can it be left out on the counter overnight?

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