Traditional Russian blini (BLEE-nee), singular is blin, are made with a yeast-raised buckwheat flour batter that gives them a nutty flavor.
They symbolize the sun and take center stage at Maslenitsa (also known as Butter Week, Pancake Week or Cheesefare Week), a spring festival marking the end of winter. For some, it also marks the last week to eat dairy before the fasting of Lent begins.
Today, blini are prepared hundreds of ways—with white flour only, cornmeal, sweet, savory, you name it. And their accompaniments have gone beyond the traditional caviar, smoked salmon, minced onion, chopped eggs, sour cream, and a sip or two of vodka. This recipe is for traditional buckwheat Russian blini.
- 2/3 cup flour (all-purpose)
- 1/2 cup flour (buckwheat)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon yeast (instant or rapid-rise)
- 1 cup milk (warm)
- 2 tablespoons butter (melted)
- 1 large egg (room temperature, separated)
- Garnish: toppings of choice
- In a large bowl, mix all-purpose flour, buckwheat flour, salt, and instant yeast and make a well in the center.
- Pour in milk, mixing until smooth. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Stir cooled melted butter and egg yolk into the batter. In a separate bowl, whisk egg white until stiff but not dry. Fold into batter. Cover and let stand 20 minutes.
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Drop quarter-size dollops of dough into pan without crowding. Cook for about 1 minute or until bubbles form and break. Turn and cook for about 30 seconds more. Cover blini and keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter.
- Serve with toppings of choice: red or black caviar, smoked salmon or other fish, chopped hard-cooked eggs, minced red or white onion, sour cream or creme fraiche, chopped dill, and lemon wedges.
What Is Buckwheat Flour?
As you might expect, buckwheat flour is flour ground from buckwheat! The bran or grain covering (not the hard outer husk) typically is left on resulting in a light brown flecked flour that has a nutty flavor and is very nutritious.
Buckwheat also is cracked into groats (kasha) and steamed or boiled into porridges, puddings, and stuffings. Here is an example of another buckwheat kasha recipe:
- Jewish Kasha Varnishkes Recipe: This traditional recipe is made with sautéed onions, cooked bowtie pasta, and buckwheat groats or kasha.
Wheat Allergies Beware
Considered a gluten-free flour, consumers of buckwheat flour who have wheat allergies should be aware that many buckwheat flours have been processed in facilities that manufacture wheat flour. And, sometimes, buckwheat flour is mixed with wheat flour as a filler.