This morning I just noticed a huge bag of Yukon gold potatoes in my cabinet that I had completely forgotten about. Luckily they were still good but I wanted to make something with them before they started to sprout. Being Norwegian of course I am not lacking in ideas of what to do with potatoes. As I’ve mentioned before in my previous posts, where would Norway be without potatoes? We seem to eat it with practically every meal, as this is an easy crop to grow in a cold weather country such as ours.
This blog is somewhat focused around traditional recipes from my homeland, so what better food to make on a Saturday afternoon than Norwegian lomper? I can hardly think of a more classic example of a popular food from my country. A soft flatbread made up with cooked potatoes and a bit of flour, these have a long history in Norway and is similar to the Mexican tortilla, Italian piadina, Indian roti or Middle Eastern lavash. Every country in the world has their version of this type of flatbread, and is the epitome of every day foods that are highly loved. Lomper also qualifies as a healthy wrap in that it is frequently made with whole wheat or whole grain flours and contain no fat (oil or butter). Amazingly, they are incredibly flavorful as well because of the potatoes, and have a very attractive, soft and velvety texture.
Some people think lomper is the same as potato lefser , however in my opinion, lomper are more rustic and thicker while definitely a lot easier and quicker to make than the traditional “lefser”. Other names for lomper are potetkaker (potato cakes) and hellekaker (the latter term is used in western Norway). Potetkaker were usually eaten plain, and only on Sundays was it served with butter. Hellekaker were made with oatmeal, oat flour or barley flour prior to the arrival of the potato in Norway.
Lomper act as a wrap for both sweet and savory food. You can make a delightful spread with butter, cinnamon, vanilla sugar, or fill them with sour cream and lingonberries, and you have a delectable sweet treat. Add in smoked salmon and cream cheese with some chopped dill, or as I did tonight – grill strips of chicken, saute vegetables and add a dollop of tangy yogurt- cucumber dip, and you have lunch, dinner or a savory snack in between meals. I love the versatility of lomper, plus it has that authentic Norwegian taste I so often have crave and brings me right back home. While I hear lomper is originally from Sweden, this food has such a long history in Norway, I feel that we can share the glory of who came up with this creation.
When making lomper you can use any type of flour or a combination of different flours. The best and most pliable lomper are made by using barley flour and potatoes. I’ve chosen a combination of flours in the recipe below, but feel free to substitute whatever you have in house. You can also make them entirely gluten free, which is useful for those who are intolerant of gluten.
Please note the dough is not the easiest to handle, and may take you a few times to master. The dough should just barely come together to be able to roll it out, but it might feel extremely porous compared to regular dough, because of the low quantity of flour added. The key is to be conservative with the flour, as the flour taste should not predominate, but let the flavor of the potato shine through and also avoid the texture from becoming too dense. Use a very light hand when rolling it out, and make sure you constantly coat your rolling pin with flour (not too much!) to avoid it from sticking.
Adjusting and achieving the correct heat on the griddle or stove is also important. If you bake them on too high of a heat ,the lompe will still be raw on the inside when done on the outside, but if the heat is too low they become hard and chewy. Experiment with a few at first and see what levels work best. Most times, baking and cooking is all about trial and error!
The classic lompe might be the one with lots of good butter, sugar and cinnamon, this truly is a culinary experience! Humble yes, but sometimes simple is the most satisfying. I sure had a big smile on my face this afternoon while enjoying them with my coffee!
Another popular way to enjoy lomper is to spread it with a bit of mustard, add a hot dog in the middle and roll it up. This is a popular substitute (and a more authentic Norwegian version) for the hot dog bun. I also like to add shrimp salad on my hot dog (yes, very typical Norwegian) for an extra fancy version. You will see the “pølse og lompe” being served at many stands during ball games in Norway and it’s also a popular street food on 17th of May (our national Independence Day).
I probably made the most delicious lompe tonight for dinner, where I filled them with grilled chicken, sauteed onion, peppers and mushrooms and a tzatziki dip. I can’t explain the happiness I felt other than to say it was heaven in a bite!
The limit to fillings is your imagination – anything will taste good wrapped in lomper, believe me! Instead of buying pre-made wraps at the supermarket, do yourself a favor and try this recipe out – while they may take a little work, you won’t mind when experiencing the pleasure of eating them when they are done, hot off the griddle with your favorite filling. Enjoy!!
Makes about 14 lomper
2 lbs potatoes (you can use either Russet or Yukon Gold)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup rye flour
1/4 cup barley flour
1 tsp salt
Peel and boil the potatoes in salted water until soft when pierced through with a knife. Drain and mash them with a tsp of salt. In another bowl combine all the flours, then add the mashed potatoes to the flour mixture. Knead until the dough starts to come together. Please note that you must be careful adding too much flour – that will cause the lomper to get hard. Resist the urge to add more because you think the dough is too sticky. Lomper should be soft and almost velvety in texture when baked.
Divide the batter into 14 balls and roll out into about 20 cm/10 inch circles (about 1/2 cm or 1/4 inch thick). Place onto a 12 inch dry skillet (or if you have a lefse griddle even better) or a grill on medium-high heat and cook until you get dark spots on both sides. The lompe should not have any flour on the outside when placed in the skillet.
Place the lomper on top of each other on a plate and cover with a towel. As you can see, some flour ended up on mine, but practice makes perfect so next time they will be 100% flour free when done! (They were still incredibly delicious though, if I may say so myself). The fresh potato smell and the softness and freshness of the lomper truly is irresistible and can’t compare to anything you will get in the supermarket! What are you waiting for? Go on and make!