Martin's Magazine

Eric O. Troldahls's lefse secrets

Eric O. Troldahl is a person with a wide variety of interests. Be sure to visit his very interesting web-site. Among many skills he is also an accomplished "lefse-baker". In this article he is kindly sharing some of his secrets with us.

 

HOW I MAKE LEFSE

Make Potato Buds brand instant potatoes (or any brand that uses potato chunks
instead of powder). Use the recipe on the box but double the salt. (Since I
can't have dairy and don't use margarine, I use canola or corn oil instead of
butter and soy milk instead of the milk).

Leave potatoes overnight, or at least 8 hours, so they can fully reconstitute.
Really, this helps a LOT!

Mix 2 cups potato and 1 cup flour with a "pastry cutter" or with crossed
knives, until the whole ball wants to stick together. Portion into 6 equal
balls of dough.

Turn on Lefse Grill. Mine sets at 550 degrees Fahrenheit (about 290 Celsius).
Mine is also about 14" across (36 centimeters).

Using a "Pastry Frame" (Foley brand) floured linen pastry cloth, place one of
the dough balls in the center of the well floured cloth. Press the ball with
your hands until it is maybe 1/2 inch (13mm) thick and round. Using a FLOURED
grooved rolling pin, set the pin GENTLY on the dough, about 1/3 of the way from
the front edge. Roll away from you (across the middle). Be careful to not
start too close to the edge. Move 1/3 of the way around the dough from where
you finished that "stroke" of the rolling pin (2/3 around from where you
started) and pull straight across, finishing 1/3 from your original spot. You
have now rolled 2 of 3 thirds. Go 1/3 from your current spot away from the
original spot, and do the final 1/3. Your dough will no longer be round, but
rather a rounded triangle. Flour the top of the lefse, lift it up and flour
the pastry cloth. Set the dough back down upside down. Flour the rolling pin
again. Repeat the 1/3s pattern of rolling, but aiming at the narrow spots left
by the first batch. Continue to repeat this pattern until the dough is under
1/8 inch thick (3mm), at which point you stop lifting or flipping the dough.
You don't have to keep to the 1/3 pattern, but you want to primarily aim
towards the narrow spots, and you never want to roll the same exact direction
or it's exact opposite on the next roll. Even 2 inches different is okay
(Maybe 15 degrees, I don't know). When you get a relatively round dough rolled
out to the size of your grill, or thinned down to 1/16 inch thick (1.5mm), you
are done rolling.

Then you lay the lefse stick on the two wooden sides of the frame and gently
roll the dough onto the stick. When you roll the dough onto the stick and back
onto the grill, you have to make sure not to put any pressure that would press
layers together. Cook the lefse until it starts to brown nicely, then flip
over and do the same on the opposite side. The curved end of the stick is used
to get under the lefse to turn it over and to remove the fully cooked rounds
(folded in half) to the waiting 13x9x2 cake pan lined with a moist dishtowel
(not terrycloth, the older woven linen style). As the towel dries out,
sprinkle a bit of water (about every 2-3 rounds) on the towel. Leave lefse for
4 or more hours, then the moisture content has stabilized and it will bend
easily. Pull the rounds out of the cake pan and stack them. If you will be
using the lefse as a bread, cut it in quarters. If you will be using it as a
dessert (butter, sugar, and cinnamon), you can cut it into eighths. My family
traditionally uses lefse with butter or cheese, and sometimes with other meats,
stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc.

It freezes well, so sometimes if I have a large group helping roll it out, I
will make a whole large box of Potato Buds. That gives me some for myself and
some for the freezer, as well as the party or family event that we are making
it for.

This article was presented on the Norway list and produced some replies. Here is the question and Eric's additional comments:

-Question: You say to mix two cups of potato and 1 cup of flour until it all wants to stick
together. I've read these same proportions elsewhere, but when I tried it, all I got was a sticky mess to which I had
to add tons more flour (well not tons, but far more than the recipe called for). Suggestions?
Debbie

Eric:

- Keep the dough and the potatoes in the refrigerator.
- Only take out one ball of dough from the fridge at a time.
- Keep the bowl and measuring spoons in the refrigerator if it is hot out.
- Did your "sticky mess" come from Potato Bud(R) brand instant potatoes?
- Did you follow the recipe on the box exactly except to double the salt?
- Had they "set up" overnight in the refrigerator?
- Did you make up a whole box of potatoes so that there was no risk of uneven
measurement? Use a smaller box if you don't want to make a lot of lefse.
- ...and add a bit of extra flour if needed.

Regarding Owen's comment, I have always used plain "all purpose" flour until I
became a health nut... Now I would likely use whole wheat pastry flour and
adjust the amounts as needed (Once you have done this a couple dozen times, you
get the knack for the texture and can adjust the flour as you go). I am sure
that the high-gluten bread flour would work as well.

One other thing to add to my original description: when the flour falls off of
the lefse and starts making a dark powder on the grill (about every 2-3
rounds), use a couple of dry paper towels folded up so they are at least 1/2
inch (13mm) thick and dry scrub the grill (yes, while it is 550 degrees. Move
as quickly as you can without risking touching the grill with your hand).
Eric

We thank Eric O. Troldahl for letting us in on the secrets of lefse baking. Do you have a recipe you would like to share? Send it to Martin's Magazine

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