Lefse potato bread is simple to make, forgiving of mistakes, versatile, and delicious.
When I feel too dragged-out to face the chore of my weekly bread-bake—or when the family seems in need of a little variety—I whip up a great big batch of lefse (pronounced lef-sa), an easy-to-make Scandinavian potato bread.
Lefse is similar in appearance and texture to the Mexican tortilla. Both are all-purpose foods that can be eaten hot or cold, with butter or most any filling, and by themselves or as a "sop-up" for gravies and soups. But unlike the tortilla, lefse's primary ingredient is leftover mashed potatoes!
The basic recipe for the flat bread goes like this:
1 gallon cold, well mashed potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
3 cups whole wheat or unbleached white flour
Lefse dough, however, does take to modification so kindly that there's nothing "engraved in stone" about this formula. I usually just make up lots of extra potatoes, add "a little" salt and butter, and mix in enough flour to make a soft, rollable (but not sticky) lump. (A Norwegian friend told me that a good lefse dough should be of the same consistency as an ear lobe! )
If you want to be "traditional," you can roll out a cupful of dough until it's 1/8 of an inch thick, and then cut individual "patties" from it.
I find it easier, though, to pinch off walnut-sized balls of uncooked lefse and put them between two sheets of plastic coated with vegetable oil (old grocery produce bags work just fine). Then I either squash the clumps flat with my hand or roll 'em with a rolling pin, and peel 'em off the "wrappers". If you try this method and find that your dough sticks, check the bags to be sure they're evenly oiled and the mixture itself (it might be a bit too sticky). The whole process probably will go a little slowly at first, but once you "get the hang of it" you'll turn out lefse faster than you can cook 'em.
These "pan breads" should be fried on a "sizzlin' hot," lightly greased griddle. Just turn 'em once and each side will be done when it becomes speckled with dark brown dots.
My family likes lefse best "hot off the stove" with butter and sometimes a little honey. You'll find a lot of ways to serve it, though, and it's possible to stretch your experimentation out over a few days; the dough will keep that long if it's covered and stored in a cool place.
So, take it from me: When you're too beat for bread, try lefse instead!
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