Bonnie Eng brings out her Scandinavian heritage in her holiday baking
By Kristen Miller
COKATO As a little girl, Bonnie Eng of Cokato remembers helping her Swedish mother bake ethnic fare for her Norwegian father.
Today, Eng has kept the family tradition alive baking an array of Norwegian delicacies such as homemade lefse, krumkake, and pepparkakor just in time for the holidays.
“We have to have lefse,” Eng said, which has been a family Thanksgiving and Christmas tradition for about 18 years.
Eng and her husband, Cliff, have two sons, Dale, 31; and Andy, 28; and making lefse has been a great “bonding experience,” Eng said.
“It’s nice to have a flipper,” Eng said.
When making lefse, Eng rolls the potato dough and places it on the lefse griddle until just lightly browned.
This year, Cliff was there to flip the lefse so she could keep rolling.
An authentic recipe for lefse would call for potatoes boiled and then riced.
Throughout the years, Eng has tried different recipes for making lefse, which she recommends others do, as well.
She now uses Laura Robinson’s lefse recipe which uses potato flakes instead of cooked pototos.
Eng found using potato flakes instead of cooking potatoes not only cuts down on preparation time, but the lefse also tastes better.
“The more generic the potato flakes, the better at least for my taste buds,” Eng said.
Once cooked on the griddle, lefse can be served with butter, sugar, and/or cinnamon sugar.
Eng enjoys her lefse with just butter.
For the holidays, Eng also makes several other Scandinavian delights including Krumkake, a Norwegian waffle cookie.
“Christmas isn’t Christmas without Krumkake,” Eng said.
Many traditional Scandinavian desserts require specialized equipment and Krumkake is no exception.
This delicate treat is made using a special decorative two-sided griddle known as a Krumkake iron.
She also makes rosettes, fragile, deep-fried pastries, using special rosette irons in various shapes and sizes.
For such utensils and specialized cooking appliances, Eng recommends shopping at Ingebretsens, a Scandinavian marketplace in Minneapolis, or shopping online.
For finding those traditional Scandinavian recipes, Eng recommends “The Great Scandinavian Baking Book,” by Beatrice Ojakangas, or “Our Beloved Sweden: Food, Faith, Flowers, and Festivals,” by Janet L. Martin.
Having a sweet tooth may have helped Eng get into Scandinavian baking, but the food has helped her become more interested in her heritage.
Both Bonnie and Cliff are involved in the Leikarring, which is Norwegian for “circle dance,” and recently performed at the Taste of Dassel.
The couple are also members of the Sons of Norway, an international organization dedicated to maintaining the cultural influence of Norway, according to Bonnie, who is the co-president of the Hutchinson lodge, which includes the three counties of Meeker, Wright, and McLeod.
For more information about the Sons of Norway, contact Bonnie at (320) 286-2734.
Lefse using potato flakes
Recipe makes two dozen.
3/4 cup butter
1-3/4 cup water
1-1/2 tbsp sugar
12 servings or 4 cups potato flakes
2 tsp salt
2 cups whole milk
Heat together butter, water, salt and sugar. Stir in flakes. Mix well. Add cold milk. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next day: work 1-3/4 cup flour into potato mixture. Divide into 24 pieces.
Roll on floured board or cloth until quite thin. Use rolling pin stocking that is also well floured. Use lefse turning stick to slide under the lefse, and start to roll it on the stick.
Transfer to the lefse iron. Fry at 400 to 500 degrees until lightly browned. The edges will brown first and bubbles may appear pop them.
Flip the lefse with a turning stick and fry the other side.
When done, remove them with the lefse stick and tuck them between two pieces of wax paper that are inside a tablecloth. This keeps them warm and moist.
Serve with butter and sugar.