Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Southern Lefse

I am Norwegian. Very Norwegian. Have you seen my profile picture? Skin the color of snow, blond hair, and blue eyes...there is no denying my genetics.

One thing I really love about my heritage is lefse. It's a delightfully light potato bread that is, in the US anyway, usually a Christmas food.

Lefse is a very tricky flat bread that you really need to learn from someone who has mastered the skill. And when I say skill I mean it. Cooking and baking have their own challenges, but lefse is a class all it's own.

My dad learned from his mom. Watching, listening, and trying. I learned from my dad the exact same way. Spending years in the kitchen under foot because I wanted to know the secrets and nuances of perfect lefse.

Every family has their own ways of doing things as well as their own recipe.

I love my dads lefse. It's everything it should be- light, thin, round, perfectly cooked.

Before we moved, he said he was interested in seeing my take on southern cuisine. Well, this time I took a classic Norwegian food and gave it a southern twist. Not quite what he meant, but it's what I do.

I searched high and low and couldn't find a sweet potato lefse recipe. I found hundreds of basic lefse recipes, countless combinations for filling options, and some interesting(far more complicated than necessary) techniques. But, no sweet potato lefse.

Well, that's not true. I could order some already made from instant sweet potato flakes. I still don't know what those are...

So, I made my own. And kiddies, it turned out amazing!

My lefse cozy :) I see there's a wet spot from washing my hands...

Nummins! Sweet Potato Lefse.

I love these with a little butter and cinnamon sugar, just like regular lefse.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Sweet Potato Lefse*
Makes about 3 dozen pieces

* I do not recommend attempting lefse unless you have learned the art from someone who has mastered it. There are so many factors involved it is not good for a beginning cook. It is difficult to learn because there are so many variables that can affect lefse, but is well worth the time and effort.

Once you master it, please pass the skill on to your children and grandchildren.

This recipe is intended for those who already know how to cook basic lefse. Unfortunately, I can't write down all the information I have in my head regarding lefse preparation. It's something you need to be taught in person.

That being said, here is the recipe. :)

3 lbs sweet potatoes (about 3 very large)
1/4 cup skim milk
4 TBS butter
3 heavy pinches kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper
1 1/2 cups flour plus additional for rolling out

Peel and cube potatoes. Put in a large pot and fill with cold water. Lightly salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes until fork tender. Immediately drain.

Run potatoes through a ricer. This makes perfect potatoes and removes some of the fibrous material.

Warm milk and butter until butter is fully melted. Pour into riced sweet potatoes. Stir in and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate, uncovered at least 4 hours until fully chilled.

Once chilled, add flour 1/2 cup at a time. Mix in until you've incorporated all the flour. You should have a soft dough that will still be slightly sticky.

Heavily flour a large round pastry board. Pull a piece of dough the size of a golf ball. Dip in flour. Using a grooved rolling pin with a floured rolling pin sock, roll the dough out very thin. On my board I know it's thin enough when I can just barely make out the words on my pastry board.

Using a lefse stick, transfer lefse to your dry griddle. Cook 1-2 minutes per side until the bubbles are slightly golden. Do not overcook.

Move to a lefse cozy or between a few clean tea towels.


  1. With regular potatoes I generally add 1/4 cup of flour to one cup of mashed potatoes. That means a cup of flour to four cups of chilled mashed potatoes, which usually produces about 2 dozen pieces of lefse.

    I'm anxious to try some sweet potato lefse. I made a bunch of traditional lefse the other night and it is very good.

  2. I did that first, but it was still really wet. It turned out really tender the way I did it :) Jon said it's really good, that's a big deal.

    Did you save some for me?!

  3. I feel that way about drawing stick people. You should learn first from a master.

    you Becca have mastered SPL. truly splendid job.

  4. Grandma Z.
    Hmmm, sounds and looks good! But how does it go with lutefisk? : }.

  5. Well, since I am not a fan of lutefisk...I don't know. ;)

    But it was very tasty. Tender. Yummy.

  6. I have been talking about doing a sweet potato lefse for a couple of years now, so happy I found this recipe and can't wait to try it. I love my grandma's recipe and she told me it would be "ok" to try it with sweet potatoes:-)