Do you recognize what is on that plate? If you do I bet you’re Scandinavian or have spent some time in a Scandinavian area! That is 1/2 of a lefse round. For the uninitiated, lefse is a potato-based flatbread. In Minnesota it was something we had during the holiday season. My family usually ate it with butter and sprinkle of white sugar.
There is a company close to my hometown, House of Jacobs, who makes phenomenal lefse. My grandparents were friends with the owners. Despite their owning all of the equipment I never recall witnessing them making lefse. And really, House of Jacobs is so good I don’t know why you’d bother if you lived in the area and could get it fresh. It is the perfect thickness and appropriately potato-y in flavor. The balance of white to brown spots is balanced for perfect flavor. A few times I’ve managed to bring some House of Jacobs lefse back from Minnesota.
Mostly I’ve settled for a brand I could find in the grocery stores here. Despite it also being made in Minnesota it was lackluster; though it was better than trying to trick myself with tortillas. This year? I didn’t find it — in any of the grocery stores. I looked into ordering from House of Jacobs, but even if I made a sizeable order (it freezes well) the shipping made it positively ridiculous.
There was a period where I thought Christmas was going to be especially bleak this year. As in home alone with the dogs. So, I was not having another Christmas without lefse!
Many years ago my grandparents sent me all of their lefse making equipment. It sat in storage in the basement. I was intimidated. I hadn’t ever really been taught how to make lefse. My attempts at pie dough had not been terribly successful. The thought of taking something that was mostly mashed potato and rolling it so thin you can see through and then transferring it to a griddle seemed a task on par with scaling a tall mountain. Not impossible, but something to see guidance on and maybe even train for.
Try as we might, getting everything washed up and all the ingredients on hand all at the same time proved too complicated for the pre-Christmas shuffle. Not to mention rustling up the energy. But, a little late is better than not at all.
So, on Sunday – Epiphany and the 12th night of Christmas, Drew and I set out to tackle lefse. We did a tad of training by strolling the web for recipes and insight. The best was a YouTube video. It was both informative and entertaining. We never thought about how many times one might utter the “oh” syllable when talking about making potato-based lefse :-)
It was sooo much easier than I ever dreamt. Not even half as difficult as I feared. You just make sure your pastry board and rolling pin covers are really saturated with flour and with the magic lefse turning sticks you are golden! Seriously! A batch of 9 (because I can’t divide dough evenly and we were tad afraid of making large rounds) took us only about 40 minutes. That was with us not really knowing what we were doing. A batch that size would probably take us a tad less next time.
The first two rounds that I rolled out were too thin and got kind of dry on the edges. But once Drew took over the rolling and myself the cooking, the results were awesome. I tried my hand again at the rolling out for the last few they were pretty good too.
I used the recipe from the Kitchn as it seemed the closest to what I remember my grandmother giving me with the equipment (but couldn’t find). It is based on real mashed potatoes, not the instant variety. We pretty much followed it to the T, though I did put the drained potatoes back into the hot pot to dry out a bit more as that was a tip I read elsewhere. Then we followed the directions of the women in the YouTube video in terms of rolling and cooking them.
I’m over the moon with the results. Definitely as good as House of Jacobs! And much better than what I was buying here in past years. My only regret? Waiting so gosh darn long to give it a go!
I shared a good portion of this batch with the knitting gals on Monday night. There will be more batches to come yet this winter. I’m also pretty certain a bit of this equipment will get dusted off for other kitchen tasks besides lefse - thin crust pizza, pie dough etc. And, perhaps we’ll tackle some other types of flatbread too! I even have some ideas for playing around with the lefse recipe a bit. So, my first learned skill in 2013 is a rousing success!