The last time I made little pancakes on which to place bites of smoked salmon, I read a comment elsewhere by an irate Russian about the ABSOLUTE FACT that a tiny pancake is not blini unless it is made out of buckwheat. So I called mine little pancakes. Easy fix. I don’t like to see people upset. It upsets me, and I truly do not have a spare second to be upset this month.
But I’ve been obsessing a bit about tiny appetizers for a project on which I am working. I get to go to my hometown of Wichita Falls, Texas and give a little talk at a fundraiser for the Wichita Falls Symphony League. The topic is appetizers and I’ve been looking over all of my favorites, many of which involve smoked salmon and other seafood related pop-able bites such as regional caviars, and it made me want to revisit the blini issue.
These, therefore, I hope…though I am not Russian and have no prior experience with buckwheat or yeasted pancakes…are buckwheat blini. This recipe made 34 silver dollar sized pancakes that held well over several hours and were very lovely vehicles for all manner of tasty goodness. But let me be clear, in case you have never had them before. They are vehicles, not a dish unto themselves. If you are expecting an item independently fabulous, look elsewhere. This is the “best supporting actor” that makes the “star” shine. Stack this sturdy but billowy little pancake high with smoked salmon, crème fraiche, onions, eggs, caviar, or whatever else floats your boat.
2/3 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup milk, slightly warm
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the skillet
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs, separated
1. Place the flours, sugar, and yeast in a glass bowl and mix until combined. Add the milk and mix until all of the dry ingredients are moistened. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a cloth and place it in a warm spot to rise for one hour.
2. Melt the butter and separate the eggs whites from the yolks. In a scrupulously clean bowl, beat the egg whites with a clean whisk until stiff peaks form.
3. After the dough (batter consistency) has risen for an hour, or nearly doubled in mass, mix in the butter, the salt and the egg yolks until they are completely incorporated. Add the whipped egg whites and use a spatula to carefully fold them into the batter.
4. Heat a skillet to medium. Butter the pan and drop tablespoons of batter onto the hot skillet. When the pancakes bubble on the visible side (about 2 minutes), turn them to cook on the opposite side. Remove to a wire baking rack to cool. Wipe out the pan and repeat until all of the blini are cooked. Watch the heat on your pan and adjust accordingly, if your blini are becoming overly browned.
Note: I just keep a small knob of butter by the stove for this. When I wipe out the skillet, I pick up the butter and race it around the pan once, and I’m good to go. If you leave the paper on the end, you can just set it back on the counter until the next round. Easy.