Lefse {Guest Post by Angela Johnson}

Today I have a very special treat for you!

My dear friend Angela will be sharing her husband’s family tradition of lefse making.  Angela and I each married a Norwegian boy, and neither of us has never made lefse.  So I am really tickled that her family agreed to take over the wheel here, and give us all a peek into this beautiful tradition that they have chosen to carry on.

Please welcome Angela Johnson!

“The Farmgirl is my friend.
We’re the quintessential city mouse meets country mouse combo.
I’m the blunt edged knife in her friendship drawer.
And I love her.”

My mother-in-law, Dolores is a farmgirl too. Not the blogging kind. But the lefse making kind. Lefse is a traditional soft Norwegian pastry made from potato, butter, cream and flour. It’s rolled thin with a notched rolling pin, grilled on a lefse griddle and turned with a wooden lefse turning stick painted on the handle with scrolly Scandinavian art. She serves her lefse filled with butter and sugar as a holiday treat for our family. Everyone looks forward to this tasty tradition.

“I didn’t always know how to make lefse,” Dolores says. “But Paul (her husband of 46 years) said if I was going to marry him, I had to learn!” Paul married her anyway. But Dolores tells of her mother-in-law, Agnes coming to visit for 2 weeks when they were first married. “We practiced making lefse every day but Sunday,” she says. Grandma Agnes felt the skill was important to pass down.

All that practice paid off. Everyone who tastes Dolores’s lefse agrees that hers is some of the best. My husband would love to have his mother come and teach me to make lefse like she taught my sister-in-law Lori and my niece, Nicole. But I’m not a farmgirl and I’m not Norwegian.

So Dolores taught her son how to make it! And now he’s teaching our sons to make it as well as some men from our church that yearn for a taste of the Norwegian nostalgia of their youth. I must say I’m pretty impressed with the male pastry chefs cooking up holiday happiness in my husband’s woodshop turned bakeshop at Christmas time.

Many thanks to my two favorite farmgirls who share their traditional talents with those who’ll cook for me! And thanks to my dear husband for passing on a sweet piece of his heritage to our sons.

(print recipe)

8 c. red potatoes (about 5lbs)
½ c. butter
½ c. heavy cream
2 T. sugar
pinch of salt
3 c. flour

Peel and boil potatoes with salt until soft when poked with a fork. Drain and mash. Rice the potatoes with a ricer into a large bowl to eliminate any lumps.

In a sauce pan melt butter, cream, sugar and salt together. Do not boil.

Using a hand mixer, beat potatoes together with melted ingredients.

Cool and cover with a dish towel to absorb moisture while cooling. (Dolores often put her bowl in a North Dakota snowbank to cool!)

After potatoes have cooled, knead in flour with hands until thoroughly combined. Form dough into balls somewhere between golf ball and tennis ball size.

Work with 6-10 dough balls at a time. Refrigerate the rest until ready to roll them. The warmer the dough, the stickier and more difficult to work with.

Dolores uses cotton drill cloth from a fabric store stretched over a large board about 30×20 inches as her rolling surface dusted in with lots of flour. With a notched rolling pin covered in a non-stick fabric sleeve, roll out balls one at a time into thin circles.

Have lefse griddle very hot. Shimmy lefse stick under rolled out dough. Place onto griddle for 20-30 seconds until it starts to bubble. Using stick, flip it over. Cook for 5-10 more seconds. Important not to overcook. It may not look fully cooked.

Place each cooked lefse between two cotton dish towels to hold heat and moisture until finished with the entire batch.

To serve, fold cooked lefse piece in half. Butter the half circle and sprinkle with sugar. From the rounded edge, fold one inch at a time until reaching straight edge. Cut into sections and serve. Keep leftovers covered to prevent drying.

Unbuttered pieces can be refrigerated or frozen.

Source:  the recipe box of Dolores Johnson

I’m quite fond of this painting that Angela shared with me.  It’s of Grandma Agnes’ farmhouse.  What a beautiful family keepsake!

Thank you so much, Angela, for sharing your family’s holiday food tradition!

Angela Johnson is a writer living in Woodbury, MN with her husband, two sons and frenetic  puppy. Her work has appeared in Woodbury Magazine, Southwest Metro Magazine and  Minnesota Women’s Press. Her column, Angela’s Angle appears regularly on www.woodburypatch.com.  Follow her on Twitter at @woodburyangela.


22 Responses to “Lefse {Guest Post by Angela Johnson}”

  1. #
    Mom Klein — December 20, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Thanks to Angela, for sharing the recipe, great photos, and family history for all of us to enjoy. l love my lefse with a sprinkling of cinnamon along with the butter and sugar, and warmed just a tad. Yum!! And Merry Christmas too!

    • farmgirl replied on December 20th, 2010 at 2:34 pm

      Hi Mom!!

  2. #
    Paula — December 20, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    I had never heard of lefse until this post. Wonderful guest post Angela!

    • farmgirl replied on December 20th, 2010 at 2:29 pm

      Ohhhh Paula…you need to find some Norwegian friends! ;)

  3. #
    Renae — December 20, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    YUM. Like any good almost half Norwegian, I love my lefse. I like to put cinnamon and sugar on mine… but that’s the half German in me. You know, ruining the lefse, like my Great Grandma used to say! :D

    • farmgirl replied on December 20th, 2010 at 2:33 pm

      I’m with you, liking cinnamon and sugar on mine. It “enhances”, not “ruins”. But I’m fully German. :) Merry Christmas to you, Renae!!

  4. #
    Melinda — December 20, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    So timely! I’m a Dutch girl who married a Norwegian boy. For years I’ve stumbled through a batch of lefse every year for Christmas. I can’t wait to try this version this year! I’ve never used red potatoes – always russet. After 20 years I still can’t make them nice and round either! :)

  5. #
    Angela Johnson — December 20, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Melinda- my mother-in-law says Never use russet. Don’t know why but she insists. So maybe this recipe will work out for you!

  6. #
    Angela Johnson — December 20, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Thank you Paula and you too farmgirl’s mama. Glad you liked the post.

  7. #
    Rachel — December 20, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    Jay is half Norwegian so lefse is a holiday tradition. Unfortunately, I have not been able to master rolling the dough thin enough. Thankfully Jay’s sisters and one brother carry on the tradition and share the fruits of their labor with those of us who are lefse challenged. I, also being of German decent, enjoy my lefse with cinnamon and sugar. Jay’s family likes theirs with homemade jam. Either way it is always delicious! Just don’t ask me to try the lutefisk!
    Merry Christmas, Brenda!

    • farmgirl replied on December 21st, 2010 at 7:50 am

      I will definitely NOT ask you to try lutefisk, Rachel! Blake’s mom would really like to get me to a lutefisk supper, but that’s one food item I just don’t want to touch (or smell!). Best wishes on your next batch of lefse – and Merry, Merry Christmas to you & your boys!

  8. #
    Stephanie Meyer — December 21, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Oh how I love lefse! Beautiful post. I can honestly say it’s the only holiday treat I will miss since giving up gluten – don’t care about cookies, don’t need coffee cake or caramel rolls, but I adore lefse with butter and sugar. I’m virtually eating it :)

    • farmgirl replied on December 22nd, 2010 at 9:26 am

      Well, you check back for a virtual bite any time you wish! :) Merry Christmas, Stephanie!

  9. #
    Cheryl — December 30, 2010 at 6:38 am

    I really enjoyed this post. Thanks for sharing a bit of your family and life Angela.

  10. #
    Laurie — March 19, 2012 at 10:33 am

    This brings back so many memories of my parent making Lefse in the kitchen every winter! It’s the same recipe and technique! I believe it’s time for me to bring back that tradition!

    • Brenda replied on March 21st, 2012 at 1:15 pm

      Great to hear from you, Laurie – thank you!

  11. #
    Linda — May 10, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    I have heard my husband talk very lovingly about lefse along with the lutefisk. I will definately see if I can make a batch of these. But the item he misses most that his grandma made for him as a child was flitagrit ( I am sure that’s not the correct spelling) He says it was a very rich pudding/custard that you could only eat just a few tablespoons of. Is there anyone out there that knows this Norwegian dessert? I would love to make this for him so he could remember his lovely grandmother that raised him part of the time.

    • Brenda replied on May 18th, 2012 at 9:26 pm

      My husband’s parents are here right now and I asked them, as they are Norwegian and Swedish. They are wondering if you mean Rommegrot, a sweet cream porridge? Here’s a link to a description: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R%C3%B8mmegr%C3%B8t If that sounds right, there are quite a number of links to recipes on the internet. I hope that helps!

      • Linda replied on May 19th, 2012 at 8:51 pm

        Thanks so much for the reply Brenda! You know the porridge you are talking about sure sounds like the right thing. I can’t wait to find a recipe and surprise my husband with it. Enjoy your visit with your in-laws! Thanks again!

  12. #
    Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe — July 4, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    This post warms my heart! My family adores lefse, and it makes an appearance at every family gathering we have. Sadly none of us have ever tried making it ourselves. I can’t wait to try this recipe!


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