Russian Blini (Buckwheat Pancakes)

Russian Blini

The Spruce

  • Total: 30 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 24 blini (12 servings)

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. Their accompaniments have gone beyond the traditional caviar, smoked salmon, minced onion, chopped eggs, sour cream, and a sip or two of vodka.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 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

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a large bowl, mix all-purpose flour, buckwheat flour, salt, and instant yeast.

  3. Make a well in the center and pour in milk, mixing until the batter is smooth.

  4. Cover the bowl and let the batter rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

  5. Stir cooled melted butter and egg yolk into the batter.

  6. In a separate bowl, whisk egg white until stiff but not dry.

  7. Fold the whisked egg whites into the batter.

  8. Cover the bowl and let the batter stand 20 minutes.

  9. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat.

  10. Drop quarter-sized dollops of dough into pan without crowding. Cook for about 1 minute or until bubbles form and break.

  11. Turn and cook for about 30 seconds more.

  12. Remove the finished blini to a plate and cover them to keep them warm.

  13. Repeat with the remaining batter.

  14. 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.

  15. Enjoy!

What Is Buckwheat Flour?

As you might expect, buckwheat flour is flour ground from buckwheat. It is not a form of wheat but instead is the seed of a flowering plant rather than a cereal grass. It has been cultivated for over 8,000 years in Asia and has never been genetically modified. While it was a common crop before the invention of nitrogen fertilizers, it lost out to wheat once those were in use.

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.

Wheat Allergies Precautions

Considered a gluten-free flour, consumers of buckwheat flour who have wheat allergies should be aware that many buckwheat flours may have been processed in facilities that manufacture wheat flour, so it may be subject to cross-contamination. Sometimes, buckwheat flour is mixed with wheat flour as a filler. If you are eating gluten-free, be sure to check the label and with the manufacturer to ensure it is certified gluten-free.