John E.’s Lefse
Lefse is also known as Norwegian flatbread, or “Norwegian tortillas.”
Growing up in a mostly Norwegian community, I learned at an early age the joys of a warm rolled lefse fresh from the griddle that had been slathered with butter and sprinkled with sugar. In later years I enjoyed them rolled with thin sliced gouda cheese, summer sausage, and a little mayonnaise with mustard. Lefse in both forms was a welcome snack while sitting in the middle of a snow filled slope after several hours of skiing.
My grandparents always boiled more spuds than they would use for a meal and make lefse with the leftovers. When the potatoes in the sack were getting too soft and were going bad, they would boil them up and use them in lefse. Instead of leaving the bread moist and flexible, they would be allowed to dry to a cracker like state and were stored in open stacks in the pantry. They keep for months.
Getting them flexible enough to roll at a later date was easy enough. The dried lefse round would be layered between a damp(not wet) cotton towel and left in the warming oven till it was flexible.
By the way, the boiled water from the spuds was never thrown away, it was used to ‘strengthen’ soups or to make bread.
4 cups boiled riced potatoes (run it through a ricer to eliminate lumps)
1/3 cup shortening
1 tsp salt
1 TBS sugar
2 ½ cups flour
Mix all but the flour until it is light and cool, then add flour. Let the dough age and cool for an hour or so. Don’t handle too much. Roll out on a slick surface dusted with flour and cook on a large griddle until it has tan spots and then turn over. Make small batches at first until you get the feel of the dough. It works best if one person handles the dough and another handles the griddle. A broad thin spatula works best (for me) and there are griddles and tools specific to making lefse available if you want to get real serious about it.
I should mention that there are many different recipes on the Internet including ones for instant potatoes and also no potatoes–instead using barley flour.
To get a taste without the work, quite often you can find lefse some supermarkets. Albertson’s, to name one, usually has Gudrun’s brand lefse in the freezer or check for a local Sons of Norway Lodge as they quite often have fund raisers where they sell homemade lefse.
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