Happy New Year!
We didn’t celebrate late into the night (still recovering from a long flight and a very late arrival home the night before), but before we went to bed we did manage to pull together the batter for a wonderful New Year’s tradition (well, it should be a tradition, anyway), what the Joy of Cooking calls Raised Buckwheat Blini.
Blini are little pancakes, traditionally associated with Lent in Russia and the Ukraine, served with caviar or, in my house, smoked salmon, and creme fraiche. Raised refers to the fact that they are made with yeast and need to rise for at least an hour before making (I refrigerated the batter overnight after it’s initial rise). The yeast makes them light and airy, the buckwheat gives them a nutty flavor and a lovely brown color.
They can be made on an ordinary griddle, like any other pancakes, but they are even better when made on a “platar” or “plett” pan.
Here’s the recipe, straight from the pages of the Joy of Cooking (1997 edition).
Raised buckwheat blini
1 ½ cups milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup buckwheat flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Combine the milk and butter in a saucepan and heat gently until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and let cook until it is between 105 and 115 degrees F. Sprinkle with the yeast and let stand until the yeast is dissolved (about 5 minutes).
Whisk together flours, sugar and salt in a medium bowl and pour the wet ingredients over them, whisking until just combined. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until the batter has doubled in volume, about one hour.
Once the batter has risen you can make the pancakes right away, or refrigerate the covered bowl for up to 24 hours; let stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes before proceeding.
Stir to deflate the batter and whisk in the lightly beaten eggs.
Prepare and preheat your platar or griddle. For the platar, spoon or pour about 2 tablespoons batter into each depression. Cook until the top of each blini is speckled with bubbles and some of the bubbles have popped, then turn and cook until the underside is lightly browned. (The easiest way to turn blini is to spear them with a thin skewer, nail or knitting needle; you can also slip a narrow icing spatula under the cakes.) If you are using a griddle, spoon a scant ¼ cup of batter for each pancake, leaving space between cakes for some expansion. Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree oven while you finish cooking the rest.
They are also good with a little jam on top (Marionberry in this case).
Fresh grapefruit as a side,
and everyone is sure to clean their plate.