Saturday, January 16, 2010


Lefsa (also spelled lefse) is a Norwegian potato-crepe (this is the best way I have discovered to describe it to the uninitiated). It is paper thin, served room temperature, and in my not-so-humble opinion, best eaten slathered with strawberry jelly and then rolled. I've also heard of it being used to wrap around meatballs and gravy, but those apocryphal tales have never been verified.

From the first moment my little sister and I sat our small Irish selves down at the dinner table with my stepdad's towering Norwegian family, we were hooked on lefsa. My grandparents used to make it by hand, but a few years ago my stepdad and I took over the reins (with admittedly uneven--literally--results).

Every year (given that this is only the third year we've done it) it seems to actually get harder instead of easier! You're supposed to roll a large golf ball-sized ball out so thin you can read through it, using a special grooved rolling pin. I've never pulled it off to my complete satisfaction. A few months ago, my uncle gave it a try, and stories of his perfectly-thin lefsa fueled my stepdad and I onward. But about halfway through that enormous mass of mashed potato-dough hybrid, when I'm covered with flour and desperation, suddenly I can see how it all comes together. Patience, and flour. Lots of flour. Even strokes with the rolling pin. Simple stuff, really. But just you wait until you try to make it. This year our lefsa was thinner than ever (success!) and we have plans to give it another go over the summer, to clinch our roles as the family lefsa-makers. Though more lefsa is never a bad thing...

You may be able to make lefsa using a flat griddle, but it is relatively large when rolled out (about 10 inches). We use a lefsa grill/iron, which also comes with a specialized rolling pin and lefsa sticks (I'm sure there are actual names for these items, but we just call them sticks. Sticks with very nice Norwegian designs on the handles). Here is a link to a set. The dough is extremely sticky--we end up using lots of flour to get it to roll out and unstick successfully.

The setup

Not quite there yet...

Almost perfect

Recipe: (handwritten on an index card - gotta love it)

Lefse from Potato Flakes

5 C water
1 tsp. salt
2/3 stick of butter (or oleo)
2 1/2 C milk
7 1/2 C Idaho Supreme Potato flakes
2 sticks butter
2 T sugar (optional)
4 C flour

Back side:
Bring water, salt, and 2/3 stick butter to boil. Add milk and heat until barely boiling. Add to potato flakes until all flakes are moistened. Add 2 sticks of butter and sugar. Cover with dish towel and set to cool (not in refrigerator). When cool, add 4 cups of flour. Work in with hands very well. Make into balls, roll and bake. Makes 30 sheets.


- Form a ball of dough slightly larger than a golf ball
- Roll it out until the dough seems like it will tear (if you're like me, it will tear, and you will have to start over, and this will continue ad nauseam until you're ready to tear out your hair)
- Using one of the sticks, place it near a promising-looking edge of the dough, and gently fold an inch to half inch lip over the top of the stick
- Roll the dough up using the stick
- Hold the stick over the extremely-hot lefsa iron, then, beginning at one end (so you have enough space), unroll the lefsa
- Once it starts bubbling slightly, lift it using both sticks and flip it over
- When it has brown spots, it's done!
- Repeat until the sough is gone, stacking the completed lefsa under a dish towel until cool

1 comment:

photographer and writer said...

Really nice photos — glad someone had the foresight to take them. Do you have any photos of your little Irish selves and your towering Norwegian cousins together?