pancake day practice

5 February 2010

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These small, yeast-leavened pancakes are traditional Russian fare and are usually served topped with sour cream and caviar or smoked salmon. How very civilised. They are the perfect pre-going out snack for a Friday evening (they’re robust enough to soak up the alcohol…).

Buckwheat Blini, based on a recipe in Olive magazine, December 2006

70g buckwheat flour
70g plain flour
0.33 teaspoon baking powder
0.33 teaspoon dried yeast
175ml milk
1 egg, separated
125g butter + 1 teaspoon extra
smoked salmon and sour cream, to serve

Sift the flours and baking powder together. Warm the milk and then mix in the dried yeast and the egg yolk. Whisk the yeast mixture into the dry ingredients until it forms a smooth batter – it will be quite gloopy, almost elastic. Melt the teaspoon of butter and stir it in. I found that the final texture of the blini was improved by leaving the yeast to work its magic in the mixture for around an hour at this point, but this is by no means essential.

Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks and gently fold into the batter, keeping as much volume as possible.

Clarify the remaining butter by gently melting it in a pan, then pour off and reserve the clear yellow liquid and throw away the white residue left behind in the pan. Heat the clarified butter in a frying pan and drop in dessertspoonfuls of the batter. Cook until the surface starts to bubble, then flip over and cook the other side.

Serve topped with sour cream and smoked salmon and seasoned with freshly ground black pepper. Glass of vodka optional (champagne works just as well).

Makes about 18.

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