Making lefse, a traditional soft Norwegian flatbread made with potatoes, flour, butter, and milk or cream, in the kitchen at Ebenezer Lutheran Church on Tuesday, Nov. 8, in Lake Stevens. The potato balls are rolled out using a patterned rolling pin with a floured sock on it, then cooked on a griddle. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Making lefse, a traditional soft Norwegian flatbread made with potatoes, flour, butter, and milk or cream, in the kitchen at Ebenezer Lutheran Church on Tuesday, Nov. 8, in Lake Stevens. The potato balls are rolled out using a patterned rolling pin with a floured sock on it, then cooked on a griddle. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Lutherans revive art of grilling Scandinavian flatbread lefse

I needed to find what The Herald had written previously about lefse — the Scandinavian potato flatbread — so I did a search on our website.

When dozens of obituaries popped up, I was struck by the fact that in these stories of local men and women of Norwegian and Swedish descent, all were called the best lefse makers around.

Lefse grilling seems to be a culinary art that is fading. But not at Ebenezer Lutheran Church in Lake Stevens.

On Saturday, the church will offer a bake sale and sell the lefse made in November by a group of mostly retired women (and one man) intent on reviving a tradition.

Lefse is made from potatoes, cream, a little salt and sugar, butter and flour. It’s served with sweet or savory toppings, freezes well and is a sought-after treat, said Lia Stuart, one of the women taking on the lefse project at Ebenezer Lutheran.

Colleen Kozak said that when her husband, Wayne, died five years ago, he left behind a bunch of lefse-making tools. Others in the church dug their utensils out of storage and Pat Jackson, 78, a member of Ebenezer since age 6, organized the project.

On Nov. 8 in the kitchen at the church, every space available was devoted to the lefse project. The day before the women had peeled, boiled, riced and mashed more than 40 pounds of potatoes.

Stuart and Patty Myntti were making lefse for the first time. Linda Hurt talked about eating lefse in her family while she flipped her flatbread on the grill. Others involved included Dave Owens and Donna Patchett.

Kozak likes her flatbread warm with butter and sugar, but admits that lefse with pea soup is a favorite, too. Stuart expects to eat hers with meatballs and pickled herring. And others talked about rolling their lefse around a dollop of lingonberry preserves.

“I just want to impress my Scandinavian guests,” Stuart said.

Jackson hopes an annual lefse-making party results from this fall’s effort.

“We don’t have as many Swedes, Norwegians or Danes in our congregation anymore, but this project does honor the church’s heritage,” Jackson said.

What you’ll need

potato ricer

potato masher

ice cream scoop (holds about 1/3 cup)

grooved lefse rolling pin and thin “sock” cover

cloth-covered pastry board

lefse stick (long wood spatula)

lefse grill

a bunch of dish towels

freezer bags for storage

Ingredients

10 pounds of potatoes

1 pound butter

2 cups whipping cream

11⁄2 tablespoons salt

3 tablespoons sugar

flour for use later

Steps

Peel, boil until just done, then rice the potatoes. Mash in the butter, whipping cream, salt and sugar until no lumps remain. Turn into a large bowl, smooth the top and cool, uncovered, in the refrigerator overnight.

Next day, preheat the grill to 480 degrees. Lay out the dish towels, on which you will stack the lefse. Rub the rolling surface with flour and rub flour into the sock-covered rolling pin.

Cut the cold mashed potato mixture into quarters. Take out one quarter and put the rest back in the fridge. One quarter at a time, mix in 11⁄2 cups of flour. Blend well with your hands. Scoop out the size of a golf ball, dust with flour and flatten. Roll it into a large circle that will fit on the grill.

With the lefse stick, move the round dough to the grill. Let it bubble, but be ready to slide the stick under and carefully flip it when the bubbled spots get nicely brown. Adjust the grill temperature if needed.

Stack the cooked lefse one on top of the other with towels in between. Cool for a few hours and then carefully fold each into quarters and place in storage bags.

(adapted from a recipe published in the Duluth News Tribune)

If you go

Lefse, along with other Scandinavian baked goods, such krumkake, rosettes, cookies, cakes, breads and more will be sold at Ebenezer Lutheran Church’s annual bake sale from 10 a.m to 3 p.m. Dec. 10 in the fellowship hall at the church, 2111 117th Ave. NE, Lake Stevens. Get there early for best selection.

Soups, sandwiches, desserts and beverages will also be sold during the bake sale. Complimentary coffee, tea and bake sale samples. Raffle for handmade gifts. Free hourly door prizes. Part of the proceeds from the sale will be donated to Housing Hope and Little Hungry Hearts. Call Ebenezer Lutheran Church at 425-334-0421 for more.

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