Russian Buckwheat Blini Pancakes

Russian blini recipe

The Spruce

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Rise Time: 60 mins
Total: 100 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
76 Calories
3g Fat
10g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 76
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g 4%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 22mg 7%
Sodium 105mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 4%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 31mg 2%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 74mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Traditional Russian blini (BLEE-nee) are made with yeast-raised buckwheat and/or wheat flour batter that gives them a nutty and distinctive flavor. Eaten on all occasions, and especially during holiday celebrations, blini make a perfect appetizer or cocktail food, as their smaller size can make for easy-to-handle bites that can be topped with anything you'd like, from savory to sweet. Our traditional recipe for blini makes for deliciously fluffy mini pancakes, great with all sorts of toppings, and also perfect for a pretty brunch dish.

Although the traditional recipe suggests blini with salmon roe, caviar, and sour cream, the sky is the limit when it comes to these versatile little rounds. Fresh fruit, ricotta, whipped cream, or chopped hard-boiled eggs are just a few of the things you can put on top. Think of blini as a blank canvas for all the mixtures you can come up with—tradition aside, they're a great base for any meat, cheese, or spread. Served warm or at room temperature, once they're topped they should be enjoyed right away.

In the Russian tradition, blini 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, thus the common addition of sour cream on top. Nowadays, blini are prepared in hundreds of different ways, with many types of flours, and their accompaniments have gone beyond the traditional caviar. The batter is made with common pantry staples, so the only different thing you need is the flavorful buckwheat flour, easily found in the baking aisle of most grocery stores.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour

  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon yeast, instant or rapid-rise

  • 1 cup milk, warm

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 1 large egg, whites and yolk separated; room temperature

Steps to Make It

Make and Prove the Batter

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Russian blini
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  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the buckwheat flour with the all-purpose flour, salt, and instant yeast.

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

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

    Cover the bowl
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Enrich and Rest the Batter

  1. Stir into the batter the cooled, melted butter and the egg yolk.

    Stir in butter
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  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white until stiff but not dry.

    Whisk
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  3. Fold the whisked egg white into the batter.

    Fold in egg whites
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  4. Cover the bowl and let the batter stand 20 minutes.

    Cover the bowl
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Pan Fry the Blini

  1. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat.

    Heat a skillet
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  2. Drop quarter-sized dollops of dough into a pan being careful not to overcrowd it. Cook for about 1 minute or until bubbles form.

    Flip
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  3. Turn and cook for about 30 additional seconds.

    Turn and cook
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  4. Remove the finished blini onto a plate and cover them with a clean kitchen towel to keep them warm. Repeat the frying process with the remaining batter.

    Remove and plate
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  5. Serve with your favorite toppings.

    Serve with sour cream
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  6. Enjoy!

What is Buckwheat Flour? Is It Gluten Free?

Buckwheat flour doesn't come from a form of wheat or other cereal grass but instead from the seeds of a flowering plant. It has been cultivated in Asia for more than 8,000 years 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, known as kasha, and steamed or boiled into porridges, puddings, and stuffings.

Considered a gluten-free flour, you can make this recipe using half of buckwheat flour and half of any gluten-free flour mix of your liking for texture—you need one and one-quarter cup total—but be aware that most commercially produced flours might have been exposed 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 labels first.

What to Serve on Top of Blini

Your imagination is what dictates what can go on top of blini. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Top with the classic smoked salmon, sour cream, fresh dill, and lemon wedges.
  • Use sour cream as the base for a small dollop of caviar.
  • Add smoked or pickled fish and top with a spritz of olive oil and fresh herbs.
  • Use any egg salad of your liking.
  • Top with whipped cream and fresh fruit such as berries or peaches.
  • Add seasoned ricotta or mascarpone and a rolled slice of prosciutto.
  • Make small deviled eggs and quarter them; top teach blini with one quarter.
  • Top with crème fraîche and pickled onions.
  • Use fruit preserves, chocolate spreads, or caramel sauce to make a sweet version.