Monday, December 15, 2014

Norsk baking day

For several years now my sister Lisa; her kids, Kaylee and Chase; her friend, Perry;  and I have joined my Mom and Dad at their house to make Lefse before the holidays.  My daughter, Nikole, makes lefse across the state but I don't think that we have ever made it together.  This year we decided to try a baking day that included more of our Norwegian goodies and invited all of our family members. In addition to getting some of the baking done it was also my intention to give the next generation of our family an opportunity to experience how some of our traditional goodies are made.

When we first started making lefse we did not have Grandma's recipe and we used a recipe from Caroline, a friend of my parents.  It was a recipe that used boxed mashed potatoes and it worked well.  The potatoes were cooked and mashed and then chilled overnight.  They were rolled and cooked the next day.  Last year, or maybe the year before, another friend of my parents, Ruth, shared her recipe for lefse.  It is made using warm potatoes, cooked a few at a time in multiple batches.  While warm, the potatoes are mashed and the remaining ingredients are added and hen the still warm potato dough is rolled and cooked.  We like this recipe as well but it does not lend itself to a large group lefse day.  It is the best recipe for spur of the moment lefse making as it does not require any chilling.  For our lefse day we used a recipe that is favored by my daughter Nikole.  She also prepares her dough the day before and chills it overnight.  We like this recipe too.  It was a nice dough to work with and produced a tasty lefse. Dad said that today the conversation at the truck stop that he frequents was about lefse and it seems that other lefse makers are using the warm dough recipe and method.

Lefse requires a substantial investment in equipment.  The lefse grill is a round electric griddle.  When we make lefse we use my parents grill and my sister's grill at the same time.  It takes longer to grill a lefse than to roll a lefse so one person rolling can keep up with more than one grill.  We started out with one grill and that worked great.  Adding a second grill allows us to get our lefse done in a shorter amount of time.  Nikole also owns two grills.

Rolling lefse is done on a cloth covered board.  We all own round boards with fitted cloth covers.  They work for more than just lefse so are a good investment.  I use mine all the time for rolling out cookies and the rare pie or quiche crust.  A dough that must be shaped into a rope, like kringla works well on this surface.  The lefse rolling pin is a short, large diameter wood pin with narrow grooves encircling the pin.  It is covered with a stockinette to keep the flour from collecting in the groove.  It is the perfect tool for getting a paper thin finished product.  Flat wooden lefse turners are used to transfer the rolled uncooked lefse to the grill and then to turn it over while cooking and to transfer the finished lefse to the stack.  A potato ricer is nearly essential for getting a lump free potato mixture. Ruth's recipe is here.  Caroline's recipe is here. 

Lefse is not the only traditional Norwegian goodie that requires special equipment.  We use a special iron to deep fry rosettes and a special cooker to make krumkake.  I have previously shared those recipes and they can be found here for the rosettes and here for the krumkake.

Lisa sent me her recipe for kringla and it can be found here.  She also sent Grandma Alma's recipe for peppernuts which can be found here. 

My mom and dad make donuts.  They have a restaurant fryer with a donut attachment.  Dad does the frying and mom mixes up the batter.  It is a process they have down to a science and their donuts turn out great.  The recipe is here.

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