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Lefse (Flat Potato Bread)

This recipe comes from Marjorie Kittelson of the Norwegian Room Committee and was printed in the "Nationality Rooms Recipe Book" of the University of Pittsburgh. Though there are many recipes for lefse, including this favorite version, Marjorie describes it as "one food that is uniquely Norwegian."

5 medium baking potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk or cream
1 teaspoon sugar
3 to 4 cups flour

Peel and boil the potatoes (Idahos are best). Do not overcook. Mash or rice the potatoes and add the salt, butter and milk while still hot. Let cool and add enough flour so that it is easy to roll out. Use a well-floured board or pastry cloth and roll out a large spoonful of the dough as thin as possible (much thinner than pie crust). Cut in 6- to 8-inch circle (a sharp-edged pan cover can be used as you would a cookie cutter). Bake on an ungreased griddle on top of stove, moderately warm, until lightly browned on both sides. (A pancake turner flips them easily and several can be baking at the same time. We used an All-Clad griddle pan on our gas range and could do two 7-inch lefse at a time.)

Keep lefse soft between several slightly dampened towels until ready to serve. They may also be allowed to dry and eaten crisp, but most people prefer them soft and spread with butter and brown or white sugar (we preferred white). When spread, it is rolled or folded to serve. If it's served with a meal, sugar may be eliminated. Serves 12 or more.

Tester's note: This is a beautiful dough. We mixed in 3 cups of flour with our hands, then put cup No. 4 into our flour sifter to sift onto the plastic pastry mat. We used all but about 1 tablespoon as we rolled our dough, which gets so thin as to be translucent. Unlike pastry, the leftover dough -- we used a 7-inch lid from our Revere Ware to cut the rounds -- can be rolled and rerolled with no noticeable deleterious effect. The first time we got 17 lefse, the second, 5 and the third, 3 -- a total of 25 little circles of Norwegian delight.

Thursday, December 06, 2001

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