Last Friday (one of my extra days) Kanarie and I embarked on a little culinary adventure: Gluten-free lefse.
For the uninitiated: Lefse is traditional Norwegian fare–an oversized, very thin potato pancake of sorts, meant to be rolled or folded with a thin spread of butter and cinnamon and sugar, or (as my family likes it) with cream cheese and slice of turkey.
Lefse is also one of those traditional foods that require a lot of traditional accessories—a round breadboard with a fabric cover, a lefse rolling pin, the all important lefse stick, and a round electric griddle big enough to hold the rolled-out lefse.
Now, Kanarie is from a long line of good Norwegian Lutherans, dontchaknow. She picked up her family’s tradition, and has thoroughly outfitted herself with all the necessary accoutrements. (But, if you don’t have a handy brother to craft your very own lefse stick, she tells me that most of the ephemera is available at lefsetime.com or at Target.)
Now, the best part about lefse (besides eating it hot off the griddle, of course), is that it’s a fairly long, leisurely process. In between peeling, boiling, ricing, and chilling the potatoes, then mixing and chilling the dough, and then finally rolling out and grilling the lefse… well, there’s a lot of time to visit. Or—as Kanarie and I made use of the hours between—there’s the right amount of time to make an afternoon of it: watch a movie, take a walk to nearby shops, and make lunch… and yes, have a nice long, low-key visit.
Mom and I originally learned to make lefse from one of her writing students. Clara was—still is!—such a neat old lady, with so many funny stories and definite opinions. I stood on a chair in her crowded little kitchen, learning to carefully lift and roll the lefse with her hand-carved, red-handled stick, listening to her talk about her sisters and showing off her cookie press and the porcelain dolls in her curio. We brought the tradition home, taught my sisters and some of their kids, and lefse has been a part of our holiday season for most of the last 15 years. Then there’s assembly-line lefse production with the church ladies for the holiday bazaar—talk about a perfect marriage of efficiency and socialization!
The point is, that you certainly can make lefse a solo project… but, as with many of the traditions to make and enjoy a meal, it’s just so nice with company.
So how did the experiment turn out?
Well, our first crack at a gluten-free lefse recipe definitely needs a little tweaking; the all-purpose GF baking flour doesn’t seem to have the elasticity to roll out the nice big sheets of dough, so we had to use an un-traditional pancake turner to slide palm-sized lefse onto the griddle.
Kanarie has some ideas for adjustments, and I’m going to do a little sleuthing around online with some other GF bakers.
When we get it down, I’ll make sure and share it here.
But still—our GF lefse does taste lovely (just like lefse!), and I was so thrilled just to make it and eat it again! I have a whole package in the fridge now, and you can bet I’ll make these precious potato pancakes last as long as possible. And when they’re gone? Should be about time for another visit.