Thin Russian Pancakes, or Blini, remind us of French crepes, with a few differences. Try them with sweet or savory fillings.
If you love French crepes, then you need to try Russian Blini (pronounced (BLEE-nee). These thin Russian pancakes are yeast-raised, giving them a unique, yeasty tartness and bubbly texture. The yeasty flavor, along with the heartiness of both whole wheat and buckwheat flours, results in a pancake that is both hearty and light at the same time.
Russian Pancakes: A Symbol Of The Sun
In Russian culture, blini are a symbol of the sun and spring. They are a key feature of Maslenitsa, or “butter festival,” which is a Russian folk celebration for the end of winter and beginning of spring.
There are a number of variations on Russian blini, from thin to thick, yeast raised or not, small or large. No matter their size or thickness, it is common to serve them with smoked salmon, sour cream, and caviar.
If savory pancakes aren’t really your thing, try these drizzled with honey or spread with jam for a nice, sweet treat.
Whole Wheat Pancakes
Whole wheat flour is key to getting the robust flavor that complements the yeasty tartness of these thin pancakes.
Buckwheat flour, in particular, is most traditional and gives these pancakes a dark color and robust flavor. If you don’t have buckwheat flour on hand, feel free to use regular whole wheat flour instead.
Blini (Thin Russian Pancakes)
- 1 Tbsp butter
- Mix warm milk and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Sprinkle the yeast over top of the milk and let the mixture stand until the yeast begins to foam, 10 min.
- Mix in the flours and set the batter aside to rest for 1-2 hours. (The batter can even be made up to a day in advance, just keep it refrigerated until 30 minutes before you are ready to use it, and then continue the recipe from this point.)
- Mix the egg yolks and salt into the batter.
- Place the egg whites in a medium bowl and beat them until stiff peaks form. Fold the beaten egg whites into the batter just before frying the pancakes.
- Melt butter in a small, 8 inch skillet. Pour ½ cup of batter into the skillet, tilting the skillet to coat the entire bottom. Cook the blini over medium heat for roughly 2 minutes. When the top begins to dry out, flip the pancake and cook for another 1-2 minutes on the second side. (As you pan gets hot, you may need to reduce the heat to keep the blini from burning.)
- Place the cooked blini on a warm plate in a low oven while you continue with the remaining batter.
- To serve, roll the blini with smoked salmon, sour cream, chopped onions, pickles, fish, or caviar. For sweet blini, try topping them with jam or honey.