Recipe: Buckwheat Bliny

(Image credit: Kathryn Hill)

Buckwheat bliny (also called blintz and blini) are thin, spongy pancakes that are savory and slightly sour. Bliny are a traditional food in Russia and Eastern Europe. It’s common to serve them with butter or sour cream, and they can be dressed up with a smidgen of caviar if you want to be fancy. Smoked salmon, trout, or whitefish also make great accompaniments to bliny.

The wonderful thing about bliny is they are so versatile. You can make the size of your bliny more pancake-like and serve them as a side dish alongside your favorite Russian main dish or as a full meal on their own. You can also make the bliny small and serve them as a hors d’oeuvre at an elegant cocktail party with some crème fraîche, caviar, and champagne.

Other accompaniments are: chopped hard-boiled eggs, shot glasses of ice-cold vodka, smoked sturgeon, minced onion, and fresh dill.

Buckwheat Bliny

2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 cup warm milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg, separated
A little bit of oil or cooking spray

Your choice of accompaniments:
• butter
• sour cream
• crème fraîche
• caviar
• smoked fish (salmon, sturgeon, trout, whitefish)
• chopped onions
• chopped hard-boiled eggs
• fresh chopped dill
• beet salad

In a bowl, mix the first four dry ingredients together and then make a well in the center. Add the milk and blend well with a wooden spoon. Cover with a dish towel and place in a warm, draft-free area and let the sponge rise until it doubles in size, about a hour.

Melt the two tablespoons of butter and let it cool. Break up and beat the egg yolk in a small bowl and add the cooled melted butter a teaspoon at a time to temper it and beat well. Add this egg yolk/butter mixture to the sponge and mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white until stiff and fold into the sponge/batter. Cover again and let stand for twenty minutes.

Heat a skillet or griddle to medium heat and coat lightly with vegetable oil or cooking spray. Spoon about 2 tablespoons to a quarter cup of batter on the skillet, depending on how large you want your bliny to be. When the bubbles on the surface of the batter pop (after about a minute or two) turn the bliny over with a spatula and cook for another 45 seconds to a minute. Transfer to a plate and keep warm. Serve with your preferred accompaniments.

(Image: Kathryn Hill)