If only I had taken pictures! Alas, I did not and so you’ll just have to imagine how beautiful my lefse turned out. My family is Norwegian. There are a few other things mixed in after being in America for 110 years, but I tend to disregard those aspects and stick with the Norwegian bits. We still make a lot of Norwegian holiday food. Lefse, krumkake, rømmegrøt, kringla, and for some unknown reason – lutefisk. My maternal grandmother’s parents were the original immigrants and they came from a tiny town near Stavanger, Norway. Lefse is one of those things that probably has hundred of permutations because it’s all regional, so this is the one I grew up with. It’s thin, soft, and uses real potatoes. None of those instant potato lefses for me.
I love lefse because it has stations and in our family you have to prove yourself at each station before you can move on to the next one. It’s like leveling up in the family hierarchy. First you just watch and keep stacking the lefse between towels. Next it’s flipping the lefse on the grill, after which you get to try rolling. You’re only allowed so many screw ups before it’s back to flipping. The big mama in charge of whatever lefse operation going down is the one doing the mixing. How do you know if it’s mixed right? As my grandma Signe would say, “Yew yist feel da dough.” She was awesome.
At family lefse makings it’s usually my mom, sister, cousin who’s like a sister, and nieces. I’m the roller now. It might seem trivial, but I’m really honored to have that job. I know my grandma would have been proud of me, and even tickled that I made vegan lefse. So here we go. I’ll lay out the recipe then go into more detail about how I actually made it. Like so many things, the ingredients are simple but the technique is tricky.
- 6 c. riced potatoes
- 6 tbsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 4 tbsp. soy creamer (important to use creamer or full fat soy milk)
- 2 c. flour
Rice potatoes while warm, add EB, sugar, salt, and cream. Mix until smooth. Chill overnight. Just before baking mix in flour, only until flour is incorporated and you’re able to roll a ball. If using a lefse grill make 1/4 c. balls, if using a skillet make the balls half that size. Roll out on floured cloth. Bake in a skillet over medium until tan/brown flecks are on one side, flip and bake until flecks appear on other side and the lefse is opaque.
That’s basically the recipe in our cookbook. Here are some tips and detailed instructions.
Ok. Potatoes. We always used fresh russet potatoes. You want the starchy find of potatoes, not the waxy ones like little reds. Peel them, chop into quarters, cover with cold water and some salt, bring to a boil, when tender drain and begin ricing. If you don’t have a potato ricer it’ll be fine. But I’ll just say I’m asking for one for Christmas. Since I didn’t have a ricer I pushed every. single. chunk. of. potato through a colander. It sounded just as easy as a ricer. It was not. But my reward came when I had silky smooth potatoes mixed with butter, cream, sugar, and salt. You will certainly need to eat some to make sure everything tastes ok.
Let this mixture chill overnight. When making this with my family we make a lot so we bust out the lefse grill, it’s just a big circular steel electric griddle. A heavy skillet works fine, biggest one you have. You’ll just end up with tons of adorable little lefse instead of 20 big ones. Heat the skillet over medium/medium-high. Depending on your stove you might need to adjust this several times throughout, or maybe my stove is just weird.
Mix the flour in just until you have everything incorporated and can roll it into a ball and it doesn’t stick to your hands. It sounds weird, but mix until it starts to seem like dough instead of potatoes, but not too much or it’ll be tough. It’s part of the ‘feel da dough’ sentiment.
Usually lefse is rolled out on a big round board that’s covered in a canvas cloth. I don’t have one of these either so I wrapped my cutting board in an old pillow case. I think the point of the cloth is to really rub flour into it so the lefse doesn’t stick. This worked for me with the cutting board/pillow case but you could give it a shot without – just using flour and a counter top. Now you roll. Pat out the ball in your hand a bit, then roll it as thin as possible. This also calls for a special contraption, a grooved rolling pin covered with a cloth sleeve, neither of which I have. So a regular rolling pin worked just fine. Once it’s as thin as you can get it without sticking (easier said that done), carefully roll into a lefse turner or other long sword like device. A butter knife works too for little ones. If pieces of dough stick to the cloth use a butter knife to scrape them off and then rub in some flour. Now I should mention that a stack of clean towels should be laid out on a table to put the lefse in. This way they cool but don’t lose a lot of moisture and get crisp. At least that’s why I always thought we put them in big stacks of beach towels. Who knows.
Ok, so you’re grilling, flipping, rolling out the next one, now I see why it’s easier to have an assembly line of this happening instead of a one woman madhouse. Regardless, that first lefse, slathered with Earth Balance, sprinkled with sugar, is perfect. If you put other stuff on your lefse that’s great, but I can only put butter and sugar on mine. Maybe brown sugar if I want to be different. Until I can figure out a vegan version of the sausage used in varmepolse (potato sausage wrapped in lefse) my lefse will stay simply buttered and sugared.
This is incredibly long, I know. If you made it this far congratulations. Lefse is serious business in our family and no food except my grandma’s meatballs have such a high pedestal in my food memories. So forgive me. And make some lefse.