Take time for projects. It’s one of those things Gretchen Rubin lists on her gigantic list of things to do to be more happy in “The Happiness Project.” Last Christmas, my parents-in-law got me a potato ricer at my request so I could make lefse. It only took a year and a day, but I finally did it.
Lefse is a Norwegian flat bread. It’s like a tortilla made with potatoes. It’s usually served rolled up with butter, cinnamon and sugar. That’s how my Grandma Sylvia served it when she hosted Christmas Eve- so for me it tastes like childhood Christmastime. My dad never attempted to make it for some reason- I think he thought it required a lefse iron which we didn’t have.
They sell lefse with cinnamon and sugar at Norway in Epcot Center- it didn’t taste exactly the same as Grandma’s though. I had it one more time at the Viking Soul Food truck in Portland. That was when I discovered it’s just a flatbread you can use for savory wraps too.
So- every recipe for lefse on the internet last year didn’t mention anything about a lefse iron but they talked about needing a potato ricer. When I googled the recipe this year, the recipes I found made it seem more optional. After making it myself, I think it might not be necessary. I ended up going with this recipe from Emma Christensen at The Kitchn because it only required 1 pound of potatoes instead of… 10… like this one. I think you could just use leftover mashed potatoes refrigerated overnight. I used the potato ricer but I forgot to mix in the butter and the cream while they were still hot. I prepped the potatoes the day before Christmas Eve thinking I might have time to attempt this recipe on Christmas Eve. We hosted Christmas Eve this year so that was a silly thing for me to think… I didn’t get around to the lefse until the day after Christmas. I mixed in the butter and cream right before adding the flour and the dough came together as-expected from the recipe.
I made a gigantic mess. Once you get your dough together and you cut it up into pieces for the individual flatbreads, you have to be careful about keeping the dough from sticking to… everything… your hands, the cutting board, the rolling pin. You have to keep covering every surface with flour so you end up getting covered with flour too. I used a metal spatula to loosen the flatbread from the cutting board and transfer it to the frying pan (or lefse iron?). Getting the bread to stay flat in the pan was the hardest thing about making these. Once I got them in the pan, at least one edge would flip over and I’d have to carefully flatten it out. The dough was so fragile that I got holes in it trying to unflip the edges.
The first one I made was bathed in butter because I thought you needed a ton of butter to cook these… I didn’t read the recipe closely… These look a lot like my dad’s recipe Swedish pancakes which require a bucket of butter to keep them from sticking. But nope, not necessary with lefse. Anyway- because the first one was cooked in butter, it tasted like a huge potato chip which was not unpleasant…
I cooked the rest of the lefse without adding any butter to the pan. They weren’t perfect-looking- but you know what? You really can’t tell when they’re all rolled up. We tried them with butter/cinnamon/sugar and I got an immediate rush of childhood Christmas feelings (happiness mixed with crushing anxiety!). I wrapped up some leftover Swedish meatballs and sopped up the gravy with the lefse too and it was ridiculously delicious. The husband wrapped up some salami and cheese- and said it needed a sauce but it was good otherwise. He’s weirded out by the Swedish meatballs (more for me… haha) so he didn’t opt for the gravy.
So much hob.
Let’s try this new thing! Let’s rate this recipe!
My rating for Emma Christensen’s Lefse Recipe from The Kitchn:
Overall Tastiness: 5/6 hobs – You need something to go with it so I can’t say they’re 6/6 on their own.
Level of Difficulty: Involved. They’re not hard to make if you don’t have to entertain a toddler at the same time and you’re working in a previously-clean kitchen.
Clarity/Helpfulness of the recipe: 6/6 stars. Emma Christensen warned me about the flatbreads sticking and that I’d need something to pry the flatbreads off the cutting board. And that I didn’t need butter in the pan.
Cheapness factor: $ <- one dollar sign. The ingredients are potatoes, butter, cream and salt. Pretty cheap.
Healthiness factor: Not. The ingredients are potatoes, butter, cream and salt. I think there’s a reason this is a “special for Christmas” thing.
How long does it actually take: Not including the potato prep (same as mashed potatoes), these took me about an hour and a half. I looked for an estimated time on the recipe and couldn’t find it…
Have you made lefse? Any helpful tips? Ultimate lefse fillings? Please share them with me in the comments. 🙂
P.S. YOU DO NOT NEED SPECIAL EQUIPMENT TO MAKE LEFSE! YOU DO NOT NEED SPECIAL EQUIPMENT TO MAKE LEFSE!!! I said it twice. And I feel the need to because websites like this exist. You do not need a special iron, rolling pin, prying stick, apron, potholder OR potato ricer. Just get in the kitchen with your ingredients and make some freaking lefse. And, btw, it’s uber-hygge. And you do not need to buy things to be hygge.