When Mr. Foodie met my maternal grandparents for the first time, my grandma pulled out her lefse griddle for us. My grandma’s family came from Norway, and with them they brought lefse — a norwegian flatbread most often made with leftover mashed potatoes. To me, lefse resembles a pancake or tortilla, but it is also wholly unique. Different families top their lefse with different things, but mine always eats it rolled up with butter and sugar. A potato pancake with butter and sugar? I’m sure that sounds strange to some of you, but it tastes like home to us.
Recently my aunt bought me my own lefse griddle so I could make these treats and mail them to my grandparents. I was already in possession of my very own lefse stick —- used to put the thinly-rolled lefse dough onto the griddle and to flip them once each side looked sufficiently toasted. I do not have a proper lefse rolling pin like my grandmother, but any light rolling pin will work.
At its core, lefse is about using leftovers. It is about stretching something as meager as mashed potatoes into another meal or into a tasty treat. I kind of love it for this reason. These days, we don’t whip up lefse everytime we have leftover mashed potatoes, but we do make it around the holidays partly because, in my experience, lefse is best eaten right away when it is still warm from the griddle and this recipe makes a lot of lefse. You can make it with instant mashed potatoes or with actual mashed potatoes – just be sure to let whatever potatoes you are using get really cold in the fridge before you attempt to make lefse dough out of them. Take the instructions below with a grain of salt —- not all mashed potatoes have the same consistency, so you may need more or less flour than the recipe calls for. The dough should come together into a ball that you can cut into equal pieces for rolling. You are still going to need extra flour to keep each ball from sticking when you roll them out. Another tip is to only roll out what you can cook on the griddle right away. You should roll out 2-3 cakes, plop them on the griddle, wait until they are done on both sides, transfer them to a clean dish towel to keep warm, then roll out the next 2-3 cakes. If you don’t have a fancy lefse griddle or stick – don’t worry! A normal pancake griddle (set to its highest temp) works as does a sturdy spatula. You can also make these with gluten free flour.
I’m glad I can carry on this tradition that stretches back who-knows-how-long. Even though we can’t be with our grandparents right now, we can at least practice making this special dish that we learned at my grandmother’s elbow. What family dishes are you cooking these days?