In Russia, blini marks the beginning of spring and are usually prepared to celebrate the oldest Russian holiday, Maslenitsa. The best thing about blini is how simple they are to make, and most importantly, you can fill them with just about anything. Traditionally, the Russia way, the right way to enjoy Blini, would be to serve it with sour cream, caviar and smoked salmon.
There are many reasons why blini is a Russian favourite, and the main one is due to the fact that Russian winters are harsh, dim, long and cold. Blini are considered to be a symbol of the sun, so it is for this reason why it’s often prepared to mark the end of winter and the beginning of spring.
As we are trying to build ourselves up to more complicated Russian dishes, I decided blini would be the perfect dish to make. The ingredients are quite common and because I love to make pancakes, I knew I wouldn’t have any issues with preparing this dish.
Ingredients you will need for preparing this scrumptious dish:
• 1 cup of flour
• 1 teaspoon of yeast
• 1 egg
• 1 cup of milk (more or less depending on thickness and consistency)
• Pinch of salt
• Cream cheese/soft cheese
• Smoked salmon
• Vegetable oil
• Last but not least, some garnish to decorate the dish!
If you’ve read my last instalment, my attempt at preparing olivier salad, then you’ve probably already guessed that there is a right way to preparing this dish, and then there is my way.
The recipe for making blini is similar to how you would make pancakes, but traditional blini is made with yeast and buckwheat flour.
Begin with adding all of your blini ingredients to a bowl and whisk until you have a velvety smooth consistency. Leave all the ingredients to sit for about an hour while covered with Clingfilm, a cloth, or whatever does the trick.
After an hour the mixture should be foamy and thicker. Before the fun part begins, whisk the mixture again to make sure that it’s still smooth and silky.
Add and spread a small amount of vegetable oil to your heated pan. Use a ladle, pour and spread the mixture around the pan and cook for a couple minutes on each side, until both sides are golden brown.
Stack your cooked blini on a plate and continue with the process with the remainder of the batter.
Layer the cooked blini with your fillings, caviar, smoked salmon, cream/soft cheese, or other fillings depending on your preference.
How hard can it be?
Before I delved into what would be an interesting experience for me, I expected that preparing this delicious treat would be quick and straightforward, no glitches and certainly no issues with my eggs. Preparing the mixture was the easy part, I had all the ingredients except for the yeast, caviar and smoked salmon.
The trick to a perfect blini is to make it really thin, and with this in mind I ended up with a very smooth and thin mixture.
I began my journey to prepare the perfect blini with cracking my egg in a bowl, followed by adding the milk, flour, pinch of salt, and of-course, a bit of sugar was added for sweetness.
Mix, Mix, Mix. My batter was smooth and silky.
After greasing my hot pan with olive oil, I added my first batch. As you can see my batter fell apart when I tried to flip it.
It just wouldn’t flip.
It wasn’t too bad for my first attempt, so I had high hopes for the second batch.
After adding my second batch I decided to leave it for about 1 minute on both sides, and voila! It looked great.
After the second batch I became a bit too confident.
All the oil was absorbed by the last batches, and while tooting my own horn I forgot to add more oil to the pan.
After burning my last batch and releasing all the smoke from my kitchen, I decided it was best to stop there and enjoy the two I had made.
Unfortunately I didn’t have caviar or smoked salmon, so out came the Gherkins left over from the Olivier salad I made last week.
My plate looks somewhat distressed, but it was incredibly delicious. I smoothed over some soft cheese on top of my blini and then tucked in to it.
A true chef always blames the equipment, so next time I’m feeling courageous I will probably use a non-stick pan.
I advise you to use vegetable oil like the original ingredients states, because the olive oil left my blini with an interesting aroma and taste.
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