Russian Crepes also called Blini or blinchiki are a version of thin Russian pancakes that I grew up eating, usually for breakfast on Saturday mornings. As simple as it is to make, it's still a lot of work as it takes time. Blintzes are a type of blini (blintzes, crepes, blini and blinchiki are the same thing).
Where Did Blini Originate?
Blini originated in Pagan Russia over 1000 years ago. There is an old traditional Russian festival called Maslenitsa (Масленица), which means Butter Week or Crepe Week, and dates as far back as the 2nd Century. This celebrates the end of winter, and the coming of spring. This celebration also falls on the last week before the Great Lent, some people eat them all week long. We love our blini!
There are so many variations of how to make blini. You can use yeast batter, un-yeasted, buckwheat flour, wheat flour, only kefir, buttermilk, only water, only milk, adding hot water to the milk, the list goes on.
I don't like to use too many eggs in the recipe, it's not an omelette and shouldn't taste eggy. There are so many variations when making this amazing peasant meal. You're spoilt for choice as you can serve it with sourcream, jam, honey, or even roll them stuffed with meat, tvorog cheese (quark), or with mashed potatoes and cabbage. So it can get complicated very quickly. This are the large pancake style blini.
If you're not Russian, you might see small appetizer sized blin that's served with caviar, sold in stores. While those are great with caviar, this is the traditional Russian Blini that are most popular at breakfast.
Blini Recipe Without Yeast
I like to keep thing simple. My recipe is un-yeasted, using milk, flour, eggs, water, sugar, salt and oil for frying (which is a healthier attempt instead of using butter). I've never been a fan of yeasted blini, or blini made with buckwheat flour. If you stab a stick of butter with a fork, you can use it to butter the pan instead of oil. If you omit the stick of butter from this recipe, you'd almost get the Heart Foundation Tick. I said almost!
If your cholesterol is fine, then use full cream milk, full fat sour cream, fry in butter, layer tons of butter between the blini stack, and it will taste amazing. For the rest of us, here's a slightly healthier version, especially if you eat it with light sour cream. I make my own sour cream, and it's delicious with Blini.
The other thing I find, is that when I use water in the blini batter, it doesn't seem to burn as quickly, compared to when you use only milk. You don't have to use as much water as I did, and many recipes use only milk. When you are flipping over the blini on your non-stick frying pan, and you find they are tearing, just add an extra egg to your batter. The batter is very forgiving, if it's too thick, add water, too thin then add a bit of flour. You could use less water and more milk, it's up to you.
Lower fat blini? Not sure if that's really possible as I usually cave in and drown it in all things fatty. Nothing beats a fresh blini recipe, smothered in butter and sour cream. Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
Blini Recipe (Блины)
- 3 ½ cups flour
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups milk low fat optional
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons oil
- oil for frying
- stick of butter for blinchik stack
- Using an electric mixer, beat together the eggs, milk, water, oil, sugar and salt. Add the flour and continue to mix until it's completely smooth and has no lumps. It should have the consistency of a heavy cream, not runny like milk.
- Use 2 nonstick frying pans, so you can cook the crepes twice as fast. You'll get the rhythm, trust me. Grease the pans with oil and heat over medium high heat. Pans must be hot before you start.
- Using about ⅔ of a ladle, quickly pour into a tilted pan, and quickly spread it covering the surface of the frying pan. This needs to happen quickly, or you will have a thick, oddly shaped blinchik. The first few will always look wonky, it gets better as you get your rhythm going. If you have any holes in your blinchik, then fill with more batter. The goal is to make thin blini.
- Cook the blinchik for about 2 minutes until it is lighlty golden, and the edge starts to separate from the side of the frying pan. Using your fingers, (or a spatula) pick up the edge of the blinchik and flip it over and cook for about 2 minutes until golden brown.
- Place the hot blinchik on a plate, and smear the top side with the stick of butter. This is to prevent the next blinchik from sticking to each other. You will make a blini stack.
- Repeat this process, greasing pan with oil, until all the batter is gone.
- Best served warm with light sour cream and jam or honey.