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Bob Hoover and Morris Peterson place warm lefse into cloths to cool before packaging. (Brian Basham/DL Newspapers)
Bob Hoover and Morris Peterson place warm lefse into cloths to cool before packaging. (Brian Basham/DL Newspapers)

Detroit Lakes Sons of Norway keep lefse-making tradition alive

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region Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

The art of making lefse is a particular one.

Make it too moist, and it can't be divided up properly. The dough must be refrigerated before it's rolled out and fried. Roll it too thin and it rips. Don't roll it thin enough and it fries up like a tortilla. Fry it too long and it burns easily.

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Thankfully, Sons of Norway members have been practicing for enough years that they've mastered the art.

"I made it as a little girl living at home -- with my mom," Dorothy Hoover said as she rolled out her dough.

Members of the Sons of Norway fried up piece after piece of lefse Thursday morning in preparation of their sale Saturday at the Washington Square Mall.

"Three hundred rounds of lefse, that's our goal," Hoover said.

To prepare for the lefse-making event Thursday, members each cooked 10 pounds of potatoes with the skins on them, at home. They were peeled and put through the ricer. Then butter, whipping cream, sugar and salt was added. They brought the dough in Thursday and added flour as the dough was needed to roll out.

After the flour is added, the dough is divided and then refrigerated. Once the rollers are ready, the dough is taken out of the fridge and rolled out thin. Lefse sticks, also known as a floy, help get the dough off the board and onto the fryer. The stick is then used to flip the dough when it is fried to perfection.

In years past, the Sons of Norway members sold out of their lefse. They also make other Norwegian treats at home to sell.

Besides the preparation being an art, cooking the lefse up Thursday seemed to be one as well. After taking over the kitchen at Trinity Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes, the six hot plates kept tripping circuits.

Karen Lee Hill, who was visiting from San Antonia, Texas, but who has been a member of the local lodge for 20 years, mixed in the flour, before jumping into the cooking. She said the last time she made lefse was in 1965, and it didn't turn out so successfully.

"It turned out like tortillas. My neighbor's dog loved it," she said with a laugh.

Once the teams got their dough cooked, the lefse was carried on the floy to Morris Peterson, where he worked on the cooling process.

"Gotta have a high IQ for this," he said with a laugh.

After the lefse was cooled, Arland Wisted packed it three to a bag for the sale.

Of course the wrecked pieces were the sampled pieces as well. And of course there was a debate on the best way to eat lefse.

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