Lefse with the Schilter Family

The holiday season is by far my favorite time of year. The music, shopping, food, and family makes this time of year unlike any other. But I think my favorite part of it is all of the different traditions that make the holidays special for your own family. The great thing is that every person who celebrates the holidays does it a little differently. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanza, each family has their unique traditions.

I recently had the opportunity to visit one of Washington’s farm family’s for their special Christmas tradition – making the Scandinavian treat, lefse. I had never even heard of lefse, so I wanted to go see (and taste) how this special snack was made!

The Schilters, Lonny, Michelle and their three children, are third generation dairy farmers in south-west Washington and they kick off the Christmas season with a day (or two) making their favorite Christmas food, lefse. One thing that makes the day so fun is watching Christmas movies, and not so Christmas movies like The Sound of Music

Lefse (pronounced lef – suh) is a thin potato “pancake” that can be made savory or sweet. The Schilter family prefers to make them with lots of melted butter and cinnamon and sugar or homemade jam.

The lefse process is quite long and can take up to three days! The recipe came from Michelle’s grandmother and she remembers spending holidays as a child making lefse with her sister and grandmother. Although Michelle’s grandmother is no longer here to share this tradition with family, Michelle has continued the fun with her own kids. Cassie, Michelle’s daughter, even wears the same apron that her great-grandmother had worn while making lefse. 

The lefse process begins by boiling potatoes until they are tender and then ricing them… did I mention that the traditional recipe calls for 10 pounds? That’s a lot of potatoes!

After the potatoes are cooled and riced, it is time to add the good stuff, butter and heavy whipping cream. Throw some flour and a touch of sugar in for good measure and your dough is all set. 

When the dough ingredients are well combined, the dough is rolled into balls and refrigerated for at least 24hrs. Then the dough is rolled out and cooked on a special griddle, one by one! (No wonder it takes a couple days to finish make these!)

The finished product is delicious! I was able to try it with homemade Blackberry jam, and could not believe the wonderful flavor.  

Though I wouldn’t classify lefse as an easy recipe, it is well worth the hard work and effort. 

Ingredients

10 lbs potatoes, peeled

 ½ cup butter

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 tbsp. salt

1 tbsp. white sugar

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

Directions

1. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Cook until potatoes are tender. Run hot potatoes through a potato ricer. Refrigerate riced potatoes overnight – they must be cold before the next step.

2. Using an electric mixer or by hand, combine butter, cream, salt and sugar into the riced potatoes. Add flour to mixture. Mix until well combined.

3. Separate dough and roll into small balls (2 – 2.5 in).

4. Refrigerate dough for 24 hrs.

5. Lightly flour a pastry cloth and roll out lefse ball to about 1/8in thickness.

6. Cook on a hot griddle until bubbles appear and each side browned. After the lefse has cooked, place on a damp towel and cover with an additional damp towel until ready to eat. 

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