Dean worked with a crew of experienced lefse chefs -- from left, Diane Stoltenberg, Maggie Peterson, Becky Forsberg, Rebecca Jorgenson Sundquist and Kathleen Kloos -- at Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. You might remember them from a story we wrote last year. Refresh your memory here.
First, the recipe. Dean says this one comes from Beatrice Ojakangas, "the premier lefse maker in Minnesota, perhaps in the world!"
The night before, Dean wrote, the potatoes were cleaned, peeled and boiled.
The boiled spuds were then put through a potato ricer for a smooth texture. "No one wants lumpy lefse," Dean wrote. Truer words never spoken.
The crew added cream, butter, salt and sugar, creating some pretty decadent mashed potatoes, which went into the fridge to chill overnight.
Dean admits she ate some before they went in the fridge, "because how often do I eat fabulous mashed potatoes?" (We hope she had some a couple weeks ago with her turkey and gravy.)
On Day Two of lefse making, Dean had all the essentials ready to go.
The mashed potatoes from the night before were mixed up with plenty of flour, rolled into little balls ...
... then rolled paper thin. The stick, a "lefse lifter," is used to pick up the delicate dough and place it on a hot griddle, where it cooks in practically no time at all.
Some of the women -- clear experts in the art of lefse-flipping -- could handle multiple griddles at once.
Soon enough, they had a hefty pile.
The group wound up making more than 560 pieces of lefse from 50 pounds of russet potatoes, 1 1/2 quarts of heavy cream and five pounds of butter. Uff-da, indeed.
We'll have ours with butter and a smattering of sugar, thankyouverymuch.
If you're feeling ambitious and want to make your own batch of impossibly-scrumptious potato flatbread delicacies, here's the full recipe:
Yield: Makes about 100 to 120 pieces.
Note: You will need to begin this a day in advance. Ingredients from Beatrice Ojakangas, directions from Lee Svitak Dean.
• 10 lb. Russet potatoes, peeled
• 1 lb. (4 sticks) butter, in several chunks
• 2 c. heavy whipping cream
• 1 1/2 tbsp. salt
• 3 tbsp. sugar
• Flour, about 6 cups, with plenty more for rolling out the lefse
Cover potatoes with water and boil until tender when poked with a fork; do not overcook because you don’t want the potatoes to get mushy. Drain and put them through a potato ricer or food mill (to make sure there are no lumps in the dough).
Immediately add the butter, cream, salt and sugar, and mash together until no lumps remain. Place in a large bowl, smooth the top and cool, uncovered, in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, preheat the lefse grill or an electric frying pan to 450 to 500 degrees.
To make lefse: Cut cold mashed potato mixture into quarters.Remove 1 quarter from bowl and put the rest back into the refrigerator.
With your hands, mix in about 1 1/2 cups flour to the potatoes until well blended. With an ice cream scoop or your hands, measure a golf-ball-size portion of the dough and roll it into a ball. Return to refrigerator. Repeat process with remaining dough, adding about 1 1/2 cups flour to each quarter.
Coat the pastry board with flour. Place a pastry sleeve overthe rolling pin and rub flour over that. Put a single ball of dough on the pastry board and roll the dough out evenly into a large circle, as thin as possible. Roll it on one side only (do not turn over).
Slip a lefse stick (lefse lifter) or long spatula under the lefse round and place lefse on the heated grill. The lefse will begin to bubble as a pancake does. Peek at the grilled side. When you see light brown spots, slide the stick/lifter or spatula under the lefse and carefully flip it over. Heat until nicely browned on the other side.
If the edges of the lefse begin to get dry, brown or curl,you are grilling them too long. If it is not browning well but remains light in color, your grill temperature is too low.
Stack the cooked rounds one on top of the other on top of a large towel and cover with the towel. Cool 4 to 5 hours this way, then place in plastic bags and seal, either with the lefse flat or folded in quarters. Store in refrigerator for up to several days or freeze.