Post by Alison Hein.
Blini are a type of traditional Russian pancake made with yeasted batter. In ancient times, blini were prepared at the end of winter to honor the rebirth of the sun. This tradition still holds today when Russians celebrate Maslenitsa to welcome the spring.
Blini can be made with various flours, but buckwheat blini have an earthy richness that subtly enhance and bend to the myriad of topping alternatives. Serve them hot or cold, sweet or savory. Try them with butter and jam, chopped egg and mushroom, smoked trout and parsley, and most definitely try them warm and buttered with frosty sturgeon caviar and crème fraîche atop.
Freeze the extra. They thaw quickly and impress for last minute brunches, unplanned get-togethers or spontaneous breakfasts in bed.
3 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 packet yeast
2 cups buckwheat flour
Additional butter for cooking
Add milk to small, heavy saucepan and place on stove over medium heat. Allow to heat, without stirring, until tiny ripples begin to form across the surface of the milk (scalded milk). Remove milk from heat and add butter, honey and salt. Pour milk mixture into large bowl. Allow to cool until tepid, then sprinkle yeast lightly and evenly across surface.
Let yeast rest about 10 minutes, until it begins to activate and resembles wet sand. Stir in buckwheat flour, cover with a light tea towel, and allow to rise in a warm, dry place until doubled (at least 2 hours).
Separate eggs into two separate bowls – one for whites and one for yolks. Whisk the yolks until smooth and light, then whisk into batter until evenly mixed. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into blini batter.
Place pan or griddle on burner over medium heat. Melt a small amount of butter in the pan for the first blini. Use a tablespoon to spoon batter into pan and cook until small bubbles appear across surface. Flip once with thin spatula and continue cooking less than one minute until lightly browned and cooked through. Serve warm or cool with a variety of toppings.
Makes approximately 100 2-inch diameter blini.
Buckwheat Blinis with Smoked Trout and Crème Fraîche
10 buckwheat blini
2 tablespoons crème fraîche (or substitute sour cream)
2 to 4 ounces smoked trout
1 tablespoon Italian parsley leaves
Place a dab of crème fraîche on the surface of each blini. Break off a small piece of smoked trout and place on top of crème fraîche. Place another dab of crème fraîche on top of the trout and add a parsley leaf for color. Can be made several hours in advance and served lightly chilled.