This is just one of the many other of the pancakes/crepe recipes in Eastern Europe and Russia, and it really is very versatile! Used both in sweet and savoury dishes, it can be prepared and filled with cottage cheese, served with jam and sour cream or it can be served with creme fraiche/sour cream and red fish roe or black caviar with a squeeze of lemon juice. These can also be filled with quickly or slowly cooked versions of meat mixtures, then lightly pan fried. In Belarus, my friends make even a thicker version of this, cook them in a cast iron pan and in a woodfire oven, and then use it to dip into stews made from pork rib and sausage stews. The list goes on, but today in this recipe we will focus on a simple recipe for blini that are lovely to have for breakfast! In this recipe, i’ve used them with a cottage cheese filling however you go for what you like! These are really great stored in the fridge (covered) for several days – they do need to be lightly warmed again to soften and for the full flavour to come back again.
This is a nice balanced ratio of ingredients for blini – but like many of the pancakes/crepe recipes from this part of the world, everyone sort of just uses what they have. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you want a runny batter that can easily coat the whole pan. So if you have less milk, just add more water or whey. I’ve also seen these made with diluted kefir, and other bit and pieces. It’s basically a great zero waste recipe! It can also be used with some sourdough starter.
You’ll notice when you read the recipe I use both the plural and the singular word for blini – so I’ve just added a brief explanation below for those who don’t speak or understand Russian to clarify any confusion!
Blini (The plural word – more than 1 crepe, so several crepes)
Blin (Single form of the noun so 1 single crepe)
Blinchiki (The diminutive of the original word – a softer ending for Blini that the Russian language has)
Makes approx 16 blini
1 and 3/4 cup spelt flour (you can use plain flour instead – you might just need to adjust by adding a bit more as it is a ‘thinner’ flour so use approximately 2 cups if using plain flour)
3 cups milk OR 2 cups milk and any other liquid (whey or water)
1/2 tsp bi carb soda
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 small pinch of salt
butter (approximately 50-60g)
approximately 600g good quality cottage cheese as is or add some additions like orange/lemon zest, cinnamon or any small dried fruit, runny honey
Serve with plum/sour cherry, strawberry any other jam, and/or sour cream!
- Sieve the flour into a large bowl. Add in the milk, the egg, and salt. Combine the bi carb soda and apple cider vinegar together in a small cup until it fizzes and transfer it into the bowl as well. Whisk the ingredients together until they have completely combined and you get a super thin and silky batter, with no clumps of flour. Adjust the consistency if you need by adding either more flour for a slightly thicker consistency or add more liquid if you need it thinner. For this recipe, I aimed to create a thinner batter, that is luscious and runny.
- To cook the blini, heat either a non stick pan or a cast iron pan to a medium heat (use a medium sized pan). Add a bit of the butter to the pan to thinly coat it. Use a ladle to scoop and transfer the mixture on to your pan. Pour approximately 1 ladle full of the batter onto one side of the pan and use your hands to swiftly move the pan in a round motion so that the batter reaches and covers the whole entire surface.
- The first blin (crepe) is nearly always a test one – adjust seasoning based on that if needed. Cook the blini on medium heat on each side, adding more butter when needed. Increase the heat if you need to or reduce it if you need to (each stove top is a bit different – I cook it on a number 6 on my electrical stove top!). Use a metal spatula to lift and then flip it to cook on the second side. I really recommend to add a fresh bit of butter for each blin and to cook each side.
- As you cook each one, place them one by one on a plate and butter the surface of each cooked blin. Layer them on top of each other.
- Once ready eat as is with your favourite savoury or sweet topping or use these fresh blini like I did to fill with cottage cheese as shown in the image below! Add a heaped tablespoon of the cottage cheese and then roll in the bottom edge and then fold in the two edges, then fold until you create a little parcel. You can eat them fresh like this or pan fry them in butter to create a crispy edge! These can easily be saved in a container in the fridge and very lightly pan fried on each side for 1 minute.
- Don’t let the butter burn, or use too much butter. A nice good layer of it is enough. (this is more so important when using a cast iron pan – each pan has slightly various cooking technique). the side is ready once it lifts off easily with the help of the spatula.