Two Ways To Make Blini- Russian Crepes Recipe

Blini are a traditional Russian dish that I grew up on as a kid. On Sunday mornings I’d wake up to a toasty, buttery scent, and as I entered our kitchen, I’d see my mom at the stove flipping these ever so delicately thin blinchiki, then buttering them up. Blini are traditional Russian pancakes that are made of batter and fried on a hot skillet.

Origins of the blin go way back to ancient times in Russia. The story goes something like this: when a hungry traveler put oat jelly on the fire he started, a quick distraction caused it to harden to a crunch. And so it seems the blin was born! It’s funny, a common Russian slang word when something goes wrong is “Blin!” or “Blin goreliy!” which translates to burned blin.

These thin crispy cakes have been very famous in Russia for hundreds of years. Maslenitsa, derived from the word “maslo” or “butter”, is a holiday celebrated by Christians on the last week before the Great Lent, the eighth week before the Eastern Orthodox Easter. Maslenitsa was often referred to as “pancake week”. The celebration has a dual meaning however, as in olden days some celebrated Maslenitsa as a farewell to winer and a welcome for spring time. Blini were prepared, and were a symbol of the sun- round, golden, hot.

Maslenitsa Blini
Image: Twitter

Maslenitsa is celebrated for a week, with special rituals devoted to each day. During the celebration, there is sleigh riding, snowball fights, folk festivals, tents selling various food items- and cooking and eating blini. During the week special attention is paid to visiting family and preparing blini and brewing beer. Maslenitsa ended with the first day of the Lent, Clean Monday. It was the first day of fasting and was considered a day of purification from food and sin.

Traditionally, blini were baked in a Russian oven. They were also made with yeast batter which was left to rise and then diluted with milk or cold water. Today blini are made without a yeast batter and fried on a frying pan.

Russian Pancakes
Image: Cooking The Globe

Blini are extremely popular not just in Russia, but in Ukraine as well. In fact, a well known Ukrainian dish called “nalysnyky” is a blin that has been stuffed. The most popular nalysnyky dish in Ukraine is blin stuffed with cottage cheese, and served with sour cream. Blini can be stuffed with just about anything, but the most common combinations are mushrooms, cabbage, minced meat, mashed beans, and fruit preserves. They are also enjoyed simply with butter or sour cream on the side, and sometimes caviar (husband’s fave). I love my blini buttered with sour cream, or a strawberry jam or fruit preserve. Mmm!

Nalysnyky Blini Russian Ukrainian
Image: Green Wedding Showcase

OK so lets get down to business! Blini are incredibly easy to make, require only a few ingredients, it’s hard to believe they’re so delicious yet so simple. As stated above they’re very versatile, can be enjoyed by themselves, with savory fillings, or sweet sides. But they can also be prepared a few different ways, so I’m going to go over two ways you can prepare blini- with milk and also buttermilk.

What’s the difference between milk and buttermilk? Well if you’re looking for a more air bubbly, doughy blin you use buttermilk in the place of milk. And if you’re more inclined to enjoy your blini super thin and light, then you use milk. Either way you go, your blini will be gold. What if you have neither milk nor buttermilk (it happens)? Well then you use water! Your blinchiki will still turn out lovely.

~Blini With Milk~

What You Need:

2 Cups Milk

1 Egg

2 Cups All Purpose Flour

1 Tsp Salt

1 Tsp Sugar

Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil for frying

Stick of butter for buttering the blini

In a large bowl pour in milk and whisk in egg. Add the salt and sugar. Now you may add the flour, but don’t add it in all at once, because if you do your batter will be clumpy. Instead, whisk in the flour about 1/2 cup at a time.

Blini Russian Ukrainian
Image: GirlVersusDough

Heat up your skillet. If you have a small brush, it is the optimal tool for adding oil to your skillet/pan. You don’t want to add too much oil, just about a teaspoon for each blin. Once the pan is oiled and heated up, pour in batter with a ladle. Watch the blin because it only takes about 1minute to cook, so you need to work fast. Flip your blin over and cook on other side for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute.

This step is super important! Once you start to stack your prepared blini on a plate, make sure you butter each blin before adding one on top! This will ensure that your blin’s crispy edges do not dry out, but more importantly that your blini do not stick to each other! Because what a disaster would that be!?

~Blini With Buttermilk~

What You Need:

2 Cups Buttermilk or Kefir

1 Egg

1/2 Cups Flour

1 Tsp Sugar

1 Tsp Salt

Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil for frying

Stick of Butter for buttering blini

The buttermilk recipe is nearly identical, but obviously you omit the milk and use buttermilk or kefir instead. One recommendation is to cut the amount of flour you use so that the batter is not too thick. Then you follow the same directions with cook time that you would with the blini that are made with milk.

If you make blini often enough, you’ll quickly learn that measuring your ingredients isn’t even necessary once you know what the consistency of the batter is supposed to look like. When you’re making blini with milk you want a lump free consistency, and a very liquidy batter. It should pour into your skillet and you should have enough time to rotate the skillet to ensure the batter covers the entire bottom.

The buttermilk blini batter will be a bit more thick, and that’s ok. You still want to work quickly with frying and flipping because it’ll cook at the same speed. Once you have made blini a few times, you won’t need to use a timer because you’ll see the air bubbles form, and the blin begin to turn golden and you’ll know it’s time to flip!

Before starting on your blini, make sure you have tons of fillings, dips, and sides for your blini! Sautéed mushrooms, steamed cabbage, cottage cheese, sour cream, caviar, even kolbasa or Russian sausage, honey, fruit preserves, the list goes on! The possibilities to serve with blini are truly endless because blini are not too sweet and not too salty. Stuff them, roll them, eat them as they are with melted butter! However you decide to enjoy these golden crispy soft blini, you’ll be so glad you did!

Stuffed Blini Russian
Image: Russia Beyond
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