Lefse (Norwegian Potato Flatbread)

Beloved by Norwegians everywhere, this traditional flatbread is similar to a crêpe, though slightly thicker. While in Norway lefse was traditionally made from a variety of flours, when brought to America it became strictly potato-based — because potatoes are what most Norwegian immigrants were able to grow quickly and successfully here. No longer a daily bread for most, lefse is a must during the holidays: buttered, rolled up, and served alongside lutefisk (baked salt-dried cod), it's a Christmas tradition. A sprinkle of sugar or cinnamon-sugar takes it from meal accompaniment to a light, sweet snack enjoyed any time of the day.

Prep
25 mins
Total
4 hrs 13 mins
Yield
1 dozen 6" lefse
Lefse

Instructions

  1. Stir together the hot riced potatoes, 4 teaspoons (10g) of the flour, the butter, cream or milk, salt, and sugar, mixing gently just until well combined. The hot potatoes should melt the soft butter, so you shouldn't have to stir for very long.

  2. Refrigerate the mixture for several hours, or overnight. This will make the lefse easier to roll out.

  3. Gently (but thoroughly) stir in the remaining 1/3 cup (43g) flour.

  4. Preheat a griddle to about 375°F, or preheat a skillet over medium heat.

  5. Divide the dough into 12 pieces; each will weigh about 30g.

  6. Working with one piece of dough at a time, quickly and gently roll it into a ball, then place it on a well-floured work surface. Pat it into a 4" circle, then use a few quick, gentle strokes to roll it to about 6" in diameter, about 1/16" thick.

  7. Place the lefse onto the griddle or into the skillet. Cook on one side until speckled with brown spots; this should take about a minute. If it's longer or shorter than that, adjust the griddle's heat. Flip the lefse over, and cook the other side until it's flecked with brown, about 1 minute. Transfer the cooked lefse to a parchment-lined baking sheet or large plate.

  8. Repeat with the remaining dough, fanning the cooked lefse out on the baking sheet or plate so they don't stick to one another as they cool.

  9. Serve lefse warm or at room temperature, spread with softened butter and rolled into a cylinder or folded into quarters. Add sugar or cinnamon-sugar for a sweet treat.

  10. Store lefse flat, wrapped in plastic, for several days at room temperature; freeze for longer storage.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Yukon Gold, chef's, white potatoes, or other boiling (rather than baking) potatoes are appropriate here. Start with 10 to 11 ounces potato to yield about 1 1/2 cups cooked riced potato. Ricing the potatoes, rather than mashing them, will produce the best results. But if your only option is mashed, use 1 cup.
  • Keep in mind lefse is a soft, fairly delicate bread, thanks to its high percentage of potato. And it's difficult to specify exactly how much flour to add, given the variance in what type of potatoes you use, how you prepare them, and how you measure. If you find your first ball of dough impossible to roll, add just enough flour to the remainder of the dough that you can roll a ball out and move the resulting round to the griddle. It helps to flour the rolling surface thoroughly, and keep it floured.