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
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