Up until a few weeks ago, lefse was an exotic Norwegian foodstuff unknown to the Dougherty kitchen. That all changed when Mary and I hatched a plan to make lefse (her specialty) and naan (my specialty) on a November evening. Mary showed up with all her lefse gear, pre-mashed potatoes, and an unexpected bonus, Swedish meatballs for a Nordic riff on a Mexican burrito. After I poured a couple of glasses of wine (a necessity when learning to make lefse), we got to work.
I did a little research before Mary came over because I've heard that lefse is a tricky beast and between the rolling, transferring and flipping, there are all sorts of opportunities for disaster. And from what I gathered, it's the dough that holds the key to lefse success: only use Russets, don't overcook the potatoes, cool the potatoes completely before you add the flour, and don't overwork the dough.
Luckily for me, Mary is a lefse expert and she made the dough...which set me up for lefse success. They were much easier to roll out than I expected and I was feeling pretty cool when I pulled my first blistered, thin piece of potato/flour magic off the griddle. That said, I have yet to attempt making the dough on my own and chances are pretty good that my first solo lefse adventure could be troublesome. Thank God, I know a lefse master who knows all the tricks of the trade!
Mary's Mom's Lefse
4 cups mashed Russet potatoes (cook in salted water and mash with milk)
1/4 cup butter (add to mashed potatoes while hot so the butter melts)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
Combine the mashed potatoes, butter, kosher salt and whipping cream in a medium bowl, mix thoroughly, cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Add the flour and sugar to the mashed potato mixture and mix until incorporated with a fork. Using your hands, roll the dough into a log and divide into 12 sections.
Preheat the lefse griddle to 400°.
Dust a pastry cloth and sock-covered rolling pin with a small handful of flour (keep the pastry cloth floured and free of stray pieces of dough). Place the lefse dough ball at center of floured pastry cloth and, starting at the center of the patty, roll dough into a very thin pancake, trying to maintain a round shape. Keep rolling, working from the inside out, until the red lettering of the pastry cloth is faintly visible through the lefse.
Dust lefse stick with flour, then slide it under the middle of the lefse and carefully (and quickly) lift to transfer lefse to the griddle. Cook for 1 minute, or until lefse is steaming and small bubbles appear on uncooked side. Using lefse stick or spatula, flip lefse and cook for 45 seconds or so. Place lefse on a clean dish towel and cover with another.
Lefse is best served right away with butter, sugar. If you have some Swedish meatballs laying around, I highly suggest a Swedish burrito...they are seriously good!