Gluten-Free Lefse (A New Old Tradition)
Lefse (and now gluten-free lefse) is all about tradition.
Justin’s family has been making lefse (pronounced leff-suh) since I’ve known them (and for a very long time before that). Every Thanksgiving they pick a home, tote over their Norwegian gear and paraphernalia and spend the evening grilling what is probably most easily described as a tortilla made from mashed potatoes.
I know, it doesn’t sound amazing. But it is. And Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be the same without it.
But alas, I’m gluten-free and lefse recipes call for flour and I was a little daunted by the idea of mixing my own gluten-free flour.
So I cheated a bit, bought a premixed gluten-free flour, made a few adjustments to our normal repertoire and am pretty happy with how they turned out.
The Gluten-Free Lefse Recipe
One important note about making lefse: It’s not an activity, it’s an event.
It takes several hours to make and cool the mixture and several more to cook it all up. So if you’re going to attempt it, invite friends, plan to rotate shifts at the griddle and the rolling pin and provide a meal (you won’t want to be waiting around for the lefse to be finished all night).
Ideally, you’ll want a few specialty tools for this (we found ours here), but I’ll try to offer alternatives as well.
- Potato ricer (alternatively you can try to mash them by hand if you’re very thorough in getting out the lumps, or you can check out these ideas)
- Pastry board covered in a pastry cloth (I’m still not convinced you couldn’t just use a hard, floured surface)
- Rolling pin with pastry sleeve (or floured rolling pin)
- Lefse turning stick (or for this recipes you could use a spatula or a few well-placed hands)
- Lefse griddle, large hot pan or stovetop griddle
- Two large towels or cozies for finished lefse
- A few awesome “It’s Lefse Time” t-shirts or “Lefse is Beautiful” aprons, if you’re a true die-hard
The Gluten-Free Lefse Version:
5 pounds of potatoes, peeled and diced
1/4 cup of butter (we used salted; I’m not sure it matters)
3 tablespoons of heavy cream
1 and 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons organic evaporated cane sugar
1 and 1/4 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour from Gluten-Free Pantry (if you’re not gluten-free, use regular all-purpose flour)
Several more cups of flour for dusting
- Boil the diced potatoes until tender. While they are still hot, put them through a potato ricer to remove the lumps.
- In a large bowl mix well the riced potatoes, butter, cream, salt and sugar. Let this mixture cool to room temp.
- Once cooled, mix in the flour. Form a few lefse “logs” and stick these in the fridge for a few hours.
- When you’re ready to cooking, tear off a tennis ball size chunk of dough. On your floured surface, roll the dough out as thin as possible into circles.
- Cook on a hot, unoiled griddle (between 400-500 degrees) until each side browns, popping any bubbles as you go. Place the warm lefse between towels or a cozy to cool. You can store them in the fridge for a week.
Some Notes on Gluten-Free Lefse
With regular lefse, you can usually make fairly large pieces (larger than a dinner plate), but with gluten-free lefse we found it would tear if we rolled it out larger than 6-8 inches in diameter. Also, if we rolled the dough out too thin, it would get crispy on the griddle. Lefse crackers do not win points for creativity in this family.
The edges of the lefse turning stick didn’t agree with our gluten-free dough, so I found it easier to loosen the lefse from the pastry board with the stick but use my hands to carefully pick it up and transfer it to the griddle.
And we found the gluten-free lefse is best eaten warm to prevent tearing; the cold lefse tended to fall apart at the folds. (The photo above was from lefse that was folded when warm, then refrigerated, then warmed again; it just fell apart – still yummy though!)
Next year I may try some different things to see if we can improve upon the recipe at all. But for our first try, we were both happy with the way it turned out. It tasted just like traditional lefse!
Traditionally lefse is eaten with butter, sugar and cinnamon. But my favorite is slathered with butter and rolled up with leftover turkey inside. Yum!
If you try the recipe, let me know how it goes!