Back in November my friend Bradley helped me move into a new house, and to repay the favor I offered baked goods (Brad is an avid baker himself). I pulled out The Great Scandinavian Baking Book and handed it over, instructing him to pick anything he wanted and I’d bake it. It didn’t take him long to choose, and he handed the open book back to me and said, “I want that!” He’d chosen lefse, a crepe-like Norwegian potato flatbread.
Baking lefse was kind of a big deal for me – among the Scandinavian-American community lefse has an almost iconic status, often made for Thanksgiving and Christmas and other family-focused holidays. I grew up in North Carolina which is pretty far removed from Scandinavian-American culture, and my family isn’t Scandinavian at all (rather we’re German-American, so I grew up with eierkuchen instead). When I finally took an interest in Scandinavian culture, lefse was one of the first foods I became familiar with, and it was the first traditional Scandinavian baked good I tried. I probably wouldn’t have picked this recipe on my own for quite some time, but I’m really glad that Brad picked it. It turned out to be simpler than I was expecting, and the end result was delicious!
Baking lefse involves blending your dough ingredients – potatoes, cream, butter, and sugar – and refrigerating them overnight before adding the flour, rolling out the dough and cooking the lefse on a griddle. It calls for a special rolling pin with ridges which helps you roll the dough very thin and adds a pattern to your lefse. I picked one up at Scandinavian Specialties in Ballard. Normally it’s cooked on a special griddle, as well, but I just cooked mine in a pan on the stovetop.
Bradley helped me flip the lefse as I rolled out the dough. Once we had a nice hefty stack of lefse, we finished it off with some butter and cinnamon sugar and rolled them up. This was the first way I was ever served lefse and it’s my favorite way to have it. We brewed some tea and tried not to eat it all at once!
(photo courtesy Brad & his iPhone)