Buckwheat blini are leavened, buckwheat pancakes from Russia and the Ukraine. There are hundreds of blini recipes out there but I wanted to make what I thought was a traditional buckwheat blini using buckwheat flour simply because they're naturally gluten free.
I'm always cautious to name foods traditional or authentic. In just a few minutes of research you'll find variations among families and regions for even the most basic recipe. Recipes for blini can be found using wheat flour alone or a combination of buckwheat flour and wheat flour. Some recipes for this 'leavened pancake' don't even have a leavening agent.
I also found Russian blini made pan size with the claim, "the traditional blini we make in my family". So recipes change over time and in your own kitchen you can make whatever you want.
The buckwheat blini I made were all buckwheat flour with yeast for leavening. I like the small appetizer size, about two to four inches in diameter.
Blini can be served with a variety of savoury toppings. Lox or gravlax seem to be the most common so that's what I used.
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Buckwheat Blini vs Blintz vs Crepes
Blini, blintz and crepes are all just pancakes yet I'm intrigued by the differences. I like to hear where these foods come from and how they differ so I always do a little research to see what I learn.
If you’ve heard about these dishes from family, are interested in the history of food or just love pancakes you can try them all gluten free.
Blintz is a thinner version of blini that is not leavened. It's most often filled with sweetened cheese, folded and baked then served with sour cream or a sweet sauce.
French crepes are also thin pancakes, unleavened, typically made with wheat flour and served with or without filling. Savoury buckwheat crepes and the buckwheat galette are popular in northern France and naturally gluten free.
Crème Fraiche vs Sour Cream
Sour cream add a richness to these pancakes that goes well with lox. If you like sour cream you'll love homemade crème fraîche so give it a try.
Years ago I couldn't buy crème fraîche so I learned to make it. I think you can't go wrong by adding whipping cream to anything so if you want a special treat, add whipping cream to sour cream and wait for the magic to happen. Here's my recipe.
Crème Fraîche Recipe
Stir together 1 cup whipping cream with ½ cup full fat sour cream. Cover and let sit overnight at room temperature to thicken. Stir and store in the fridge.
Get The Tools
For cooks using yeast it's important that the liquid, water or milk, is hot enough to activate the yeast but not too hot that it kills it. Get an inexpensive kitchen thermometer and use it. It'll last for years.
Whether you have buckwheat flour or are ready to buy some, I hope you'll make these blini and let me know how they turned out. If your family made blini I'd love to hear how you do it.
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- 1¼ cups buckwheat flour
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup warm milk (110°F)
- 2 tablespoon melted butter
- 1 egg, separated
- 1 cup buttermilk
- additional melted butter or oil for cooking
- thin slices of lox or gravlax*
- sour cream or crème fraîche**
- fresh dill
- lemon slices
- In a medium bowl mix buckwheat flour, yeast and salt.
- Add warm milk and stir. Cover and set in warm place to rise for 1 hour. (Can be prepared to this point and kept in the fridge over night. Bring to room temperature to continue.)
- Stir in the butter, egg yolk and buttermilk.
- Whisk egg white to soft peaks and gently fold into batter. Cover and let sit 30 minutes.
- Heat a large skillet or pancake griddle over medium heat.
- Brush with melted butter. Pour 2-3 tablespoon batter onto griddle or pan depending on the size of pancake you want.
- Cook until bubbles form on the surface, about 1 minute. Flip pancakes and cook a little less on the second side.
- Remove from pan and keep warm while cooking them all.
- Serve warm with lox, (gravlax or smoked salmon), sour cream (or crème fraîche), fresh dill and lemon.