Chances are, unless you grew up somewhere with a large Scandinavian population, you’ve possibly never heard of lefse. If that’s the case, it’s ok, I won’t hold it against you :) Lefse is a potato flatbread cooked on a griddle. Think of it like a scandinavian tortilla. It remains very flexible after cooking and is usually spread with butter (and sometimes sprinkled with white sugar) before it is rolled up into tubes and eaten.
I grew up eating lots of lefse, especially at Thanksgiving & christmas time, but never making it. Every lefse recipe is a little bit different & many families are staunch traditionalists when it comes to “their” family recipe. Families will gather together sometime during the holiday season and spend an afternoon making loads and loads of lefse. Most versions include white potatoes, butter, dairy of some sort (cream, milk, etc), salt, sugar, and flour. My good friend Kelli & her family make lots of lefse each year & I’m very thankful she consulted on this recipe with me :)
To be honest, neither Kelli nor I were very confident that an AIP version of lefsewas possible. It was a tall order, since I needed to find AIP appropriate substitutions for every ingredient, minus the salt. The salt was fine, haha. But, the thought of having to go yet another year without lefse was a hard thing for me. In past years I’ve had to skip out on the lefse because it isn’t gluten free. This year, I felt like I should at least attempt a version, even if it didn’t taste or look exactly like traditional lefse.
The first order was to find a substitute for the white potatoes. Though I’ve been able to tolerate reintroductions of some things to my AIP diet, white potatoes, a member of the nightshade family, are not one of them... Instead, these days, I eat a lot of sweet potatoes, in different varieties. Funny, prior to AIP, I had no idea there even were different varieties and colors of sweet potatoes. Hands down, my favorite kind is the white sweet potato, the Hannah variety, because it is a little less sweet & a little more starchy in texture.
I’m not sure if it was a good thing or not that I’ve never actually made homemade lefse before this adventure. From what I can tell, and I am most definitely not an expert, the rules for this AIP lefse are very different from it’s traditional counterpart. I’m not entirely sure how this AIP lefse works, but it just does :) And for that I am very thankful. Traditional lefse can be quite finicky and require an experienced touch. This lefse is more forgiving. I’ve made a couple batches, just to try to troubleshoot any challenges & to ensure that my first recipe success wasn’t just a fluke. The dough is more forgiving & doesn’t require as delicate a touch. Because it doesn’t contain gluten, you don’t need to worry about overworking it when mixing the dough & rolling it out. It’s best mixed, rolled & cooked all in one day, but I find that it tastes more lefse-esque the day after it’s been made.
If you’re someone who is missing lefse because you’re following Paleo or AIP or are gluten free, I hope this recipe will be a great resource for you. Traditionally, I’ve really only eaten lefse during the holiday season, but given the reality that my “bread” choices are pretty non-existant, I forsee us making this recipe often & using the flatbread in a similar manner as tortillas.
Sweet Potato Lefse
yields approximately 16 small pieces
14 oz White Sweet Potatoes (I used the “Hannah” variety)
Water, to cover
12 oz Riced White Sweet Potatoes
2 Tbl (22 g) coconut milk
28 g (2 Tbl) coconut oil
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp Maple Sugar
90 g Tapioca Starch, divided approximately in half
1 1/2 tsp Coconut Flour
a lot additional Tapioca starch for dusting
- Wash & peel the sweet potatoes. Cut them into rough cubes & place into a stock pot. Add enough water to cover the potato pieces.
- Bring to a boil over high heat & cook until fork tender, approximately 20 minutes.
- Drain the potatoes into a colander.
- Rice the potatoes back into the stock pot, using a potato ricer Return to the burner over low heat & cook, stirring constantly, for 1.5 minutes, to help evaporate some of the residual water.
- Remove from the heat & add the coconut milk, coconut oil, salt & maple sugar. Stir to combine.
- Add half the tapioca starch & the coconut flour. Mix well. Add the remaining tapioca starch.
- Divide the dough into 2 Tbl pieces. Roll into small balls.
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
- Liberally sprinkle the work surface with additional tapioca starch. Flatten a ball of dough & sprinkle with more tapioca. Roll out, trying to keep the shape as round as possible, until very thin--almost see-through, but making sure the bottom isn’t stuck. Use a small offset spatula to run underneath the rolled out dough. If the dough tears, don’t panic--gather the dough together into a ball again & re-roll it.
- Very gently lift the dough & slide your hand underneath the dough. Transfer it to the preheated skillet. Cook until lightly browned on one side, flip, and continue cooking until that side is also lightly browned. Once flipped, the lefse may bubble--use a heat tempered spatula to gently press down on the big bubbles. On our electric stove set at roughly 4.5, mine took about 1 min 15 sec on the first side & an additional 1 min on the second side.
- Transfer cooked pieces to a plate & repeat with the remaining dough.
- Once the lefse cools completely, store in an airtight container. Keep at room temperature for one day maximum, then refrigerate or freeze for longevity. I find the lefse tastes more like traditional lefse the day following when it was made.
- The recipe doubles very well, but the individual cooking process is more laborious. I cut my original batch in half because I got tired of running back and forth from rolling the lefse to cooking the lefse.
- I do not recommend making the dough ahead of time & refrigerating overnight--I found the dough to be much more fragile the second day.
- If you have an actual lefse griddle, feel free to use it, though I do not personally have one & have not tried using any surface other than a non-stick pan.
- A lefse stick won’t work because the dough is too fragile.
- To serve, roll the lefse sheet into a tube. I usually like my lefse with butter and sugar on it, but this sweet potato version is naturally sweeter & I find it doesn’t need any additional butter or sugar. My husband, on the other hand, likes his spread with jam.
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