It is a long-standing tradition in our family to make lefse every Christmas holiday. What is lefse you ask? Traditionally it is made from potatoes and resembles a tortilla. But in my family it is butter cinnamon and sugar placed between two layers of a cakey type of shortbread, or as my husband likes to call it, a butter sandwich. There’s really no way to explain the dough and frankly I have never tasted anything similar.
I am second generation Norwegian and we are VERY proud of our Lefse, my family in particular. So proud in fact that the recipe had never been written down or shared with anyone outside of the family. The tradition stipulated that one person in the family holds the recipe and makes lefse for everyone else, shipping tins across state lines if necessary. When my grandmother was getting up in years I realized I was the only one willing to take on the task so I asked her to write down the recipe and teach me. That Thanksgiving she complied and we spent two days gathering the right ingredients and making lefse. She was so meticulous in her preparation and tools. From the damp rags to keep the dough moist to shaking the cinnamon sugar mixture at just the right height to get even distribution. I gobbled up the lessons and afterwards she said, “Kate, it’s up to you now”. She’s never made Lefse again. Partly because her hands lacked the strength but also due to the dementia that has stripped away her memory.
My first attempt at making lefse the following Christmas was a disaster. The dough was too tough and overcooked. The following year I was a tad over zealous with the butter filling. Each year I tweaked the recipe and the tools I used. Instead of mixing by hand and kneading the dough I now use a Kitchen Aid standing mixer. In an effort to create a more consistent butter to cinnamon and sugar ratio I started whipping up the ingredients together in the Kitchen Aid.
I am now in my eighth year of making Lefse and it has become a favorite among family and friends. I have made it my own now and am proud to carry on the recipe of my ancestors before me.
Here’s a few pictures from this year’s Lefse bake day.