How to Make Lefse and Other Norwegian Pastries

How to Make Lefse and Other Norwegian Pastries Lefse is a pancake-like pastry made of potatoes, flour, and milk or cream. It’s extremely popular in Norwegian American communities, especially during the holiday seasons. Lefse making is a skill that is usually passed along from one generation to the next. However, it’s not a difficult process. As a beginner, you can expect to make a couple of batches that don’t quite measure up to the experts’ standards. But you will soon turn out a product that is tasty and soft. Start with russet potatoes. Peel about 8 to 10 large potatoes, or enough to make about eight cups when mashed. Boil until soft and mash or rice. Mix with 1/2 cup heavy cream, 8 heaping tablespoons butter, and 1 teaspoon salt. Chill this mixture. When you are ready to bake the lefse, mix in 4 scant cups of flour. Form into a long roll and cut crossways into twelve equal sections. Roll each section into a ball and roll out paper-thin on a floured board or pastry cloth. Try not to tear the dough. A grooved rolling pin works best. Slide a pointed stick carefully under the sheet, lift, and transfer to an ungreased griddle preheated to 575 degrees. (The grooved rolling pin, lefse stick, and griddle can be purchased at Scandinavian cookware stores.) When the lefse rises slightly, flip it over and bake the other side. Remove from griddle and fold. Keep your baked lefse sheets under a towel until you are ready to eat or freeze them. Lefse is usually buttered, sprinkled with sugar, and rolled. Krumkake is a crisp, delicately flavored dessert item, often filled with whipped cream and topped off with a cherry or fresh strawberry. To make krumkaker (Scandinavian plurals are formed by adding r or er), you will need either an old fashioned krumkake iron or the more modern krumkake baker. The iron is a clumsy, hinged, two piece device that is placed over the burner of a gas or electric stove. The batter is spooned between the two halves of the iron, then the handles are squeezed together and the krumkake baked on one side, flipped over and baked on the other. The baker is much easier to use and bakes two krumkaker at a time and bakes them on both sides at once. Make the batter by beating well 2 eggs, then adding 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup soft butter, and 1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom. You may also add a teaspoon of vanilla or almond flavoring. Beat. Alternately add 1 and 1/2 cups flour and 1 scant cup milk to this mixture. Mix well. Place 1 teaspoon of batter in the center of each side of the baker. Squeeze down and bake for sixty seconds. Carefully remove the baked krumkake with a spatula and roll on a wooden dowel or cone to shape. Remove the cone and place the krumkake seam side down on a rack to cool. This recipe makes about 50. Fattigman means “poor man” in Norwegian, but these traditional cookies are rich and flavorful. Begin by beating two egg yolks and one whole egg. Add 2 tablespoons cream and beat. Add either 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, cognac, or brandy. Sift together 1 cup flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and a pinch of salt. Add to the egg mixture. Roll out very thin and cut in pieces. Cut a short lengthwise slit in each piece. Draw one end of the piece through the slit. Fry in deep fat and drain on paper towels. Dust with powdered sugar. Norwegian pastries are served to friends, neighbors, and family with strong coffee and friendly conversation!

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