Lefse is a Norwegian type of flatbread. The kind I know about is made with potatoes. I was surprised when we were in Norway a few years ago and discovered the lefse our relatives served us did not have any potatoes in it. I grew up enjoying eating lefse on special occasions, like Christmas Eve. My father’s family has its roots in Norway. My mother’s background is not Norwegian, but she has spent many years now making lefse, both at home and with a group at church. When we recently had a family reunion in celebration of my mother’s 80th birthday, we included an afternoon of making lefse. It gave the younger generation a chance to learn how to make lefse. My sister Becky made us all aprons with this design.
We had 21 people – my parents, all my brothers and sisters, their spouses and kids. And we all helped with the lefse. The 10 month old baby wasn’t very helpful with making it, but he did pitch in to eat it, so that counts. His 3 year old brother was very enthusiastic and amazed us all with his abilities with a rolling pin.
So, if you ever are planning a family reunion and are looking for interesting activities, this certainly provided a fun afternoon for us. Granted, we were able to use my parent’s church basement, which was well stocked with the supplies needed. But still, the general idea holds. Find an ethnic food that your family has enjoyed for special occasions (or even a non-ethnic food – just choose something), and get together all the generations to learn how to make it. We had far more fun than I’d ever have imagined.
Here is the recipe we used.
5 well packed cups riced potatoes
½ cup margarine (not the low fat kind), or butter
1 ½ Tbsp. powdered sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
Use russet potatoes. Boil, then mash and rice potatoes. Add margarine while potatoes are still warm. Cool until room temperature. Add powdered sugar, flour and salt. Mix with your hands. Knead well, measure into 1/3 cup portions and make a round ball of each portion.
Press the lefse ball down by hand and it will be easier to keep round while rolling out. Dust the large canvas-like cloth lefse board with flour. Press dough down, turn over and press down again. Roll as thin as possible with a rolling pin with a pastry sleeve into large 14 inch circles to fit lefse griddle (or roll to fit whatever shape your griddle is).
The secret of making thin lefse is using a covered rolling pin.
Use a lefse stick and roll dough on stick and transfer to lefse grill. You must use a lefse stick or holes will be made in the dough.
Bake on hot grill or griddle. Bake a minute or two, then turn with lefse stick. Turn when bubbles and brown spots appear.
Fold each lefse in half and cool between towels. After they have cooled, fold into desired size and store in plastic bag. Refrigerate. Makes 18. When ready to serve, cut into quarters, spread with butter, add sugar if desired, roll up and eat.
For the special kitchen tools (lefse stick, cloth, etc.) there are lots of places on the internet, such as Lefse Time. My dad made my lefse stick and if you’re handy with wood working, you could also make your own. At home, I don’t have the special lefse grills that we used with my family but just use a regular grill. Not as good, but the lefse still tastes great.