Pancake Tuesday recipes: blinis
- Cooking Time: 45 mins
- Course: Starter
- Cuisine: Fusion
- Makes 20 x 7cm pancakes
- 50g butter
- 175ml semi-skimmed milk
- 170g plain flour (or use 40g buckwheat flour and 130g plain flour, if you like), sifted
- 2 sachets fast-acting yeast
- Pinch of golden caster sugar
- 2 large eggs, separated
- Butter, for cooking
Homemade blinis are a world apart from what the supermarkets offer up. They are warm, soft, doughy, fragrant, yeasty and light. Authentic Russian blinis are made with buckwheat, which is not wheat at all, but a member of the rhubarb family and has a slightly sour, nutty edge. I find it rather heavy used by itself, so tend to use a quarter buckwheat to three-quarters plain flour.
In Russia and other Eastern European countries blinis are served at the beginning of Russian Orthodox Lent. The tradition dates back to pagan times when Maslenitsa, or the sun festival, was celebrated to mark the coming of spring. Round and golden blinis were thought to symbolise the sun and bring warmth.
Preheat the oven to 100°C/gas mark a ¼ and put in a rack on a baking tray to keep the blinis warm.
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Melt the butter in a small pan over a medium heat, stir in the milk and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, yeast and sugar. Pour in the milk mixture. Beat the egg yolks lightly, then mix them gently into the batter. It will feel quite elastic. Set aside for 30 minutes at room temperature to ferment a little. Put the egg whites into a clean bowl and whisk until stiff and fluffy. Carefully and gently fold them into the batter.
Warm a non-stick frying pan or blini pan over a medium heat and use kitchen paper to smear on a little butter. Put 2 heaped tablespoons of batter into the pan, then use the tip of the spoon to spread it into a circle. I make each about 6-7cm in diameter. Add more batter to make 2-3 more pancakes in the pan at the same time. Leave them to spread, rise and cook for up to 1 minute or until pale golden underneath. Flip over and cook for 40 seconds or until lightly golden. Keep warm in the oven and repeat with the remaining batter, adding more butter to the pan as necessary. (They can be wrapped up in parcels of foil to reheat, too.)
Mix the soured cream with the horseradish in a small bowl. Serve the blinis in a generous pile with the smoked salmon and horseradish soured cream separately for constructing DIY blinis. Alternatively, spoon a little horseradish soured cream on top of each blini, top with strips of smoked salmon and sprigs of dill. If you’re feeling flush, proffer caviar too.