How to Make Blinis
I used to always make Blinis for Christmas brunch & decided it was time to revive the tradition this Easter. Today was a trial run and I think it was a success. Plate was quickly empty anyway! Easier than you might imagine Blinins are made from a fairly traditional recipe. This translates as – I’ve been making these so long their origins are lost in the mists!
Blinis are made from Buckwheat Flour
Buckwheat is not even distantly related to wheat. It is not a grass or a cereal. Humans have been eating it for over 4000 years and it is basically pretty good for us. It contains protein and is lowish in purines. It is believed to be anti-inflammatory. It grows quickly and doesn’t need a very fertile soil. Apart from all of that it tastes really good! All in all we should probably eat more of it.
I like Doves Farm Organic Buckwheat Flour. It is organic and very reliable. For some reason known best to themselves neither Riverford nor Able & Cole stock buckwheat flour so you can’t just add some to your box. Grr!
If you are lucky enough to have one, your local independent wholefood shop will have it or maybe even the supermarket. Do yourself & the local economy a favour & buy it from the wholefood shop, please.
You will need two days for these blinis. You can do them faster but they will taste better if you do them the slow food way. Most of the time is just waiting so they aren’t really that demanding.
These quantities make about 25 very small ones or 12 three to 4 inch ones.
The three to four inches ones are about right for serving with dips, scrambled eggs & smoked salmon. Little ones, maybe 2 inches diameter, are ideal for canapés (Oooh get me!)
Double the quantities and you can store the left overs in the fridge for a few days. Watch out though, they are seriously moreish and surprisingly easy to eat!
To Make Blinis You will need:
A nice big bowl – old fashioned china, stainless steel. Don’t use plastic if you can avoid it. I don’t like food sitting in plastic too long it picks up flavours. It should fit in your fridge if you are doing the over night version.
A wooden spoon for mixing
A balloon whisk for getting the egg white stiff
A small china or metal bowl to whisk the egg white in
A clean tea towel to put over the blinis overnight
A flat bladed knife for turning the blinis when they are cooking.
Hot plate to keep them warm till you’ve cooked the lot. (watch this,cooked blinis have a strange habit of vanishing from the hot pile while your attention is elsewhere!)
A good heavy frying pan or ideally a griddle (girdle if you are Scots, which I am).
I’m going into tablespoons – weighing things isn’t in my nature and spoons are easier to wash up. You can use fancy measuring spoons but personally I prefer a big old metal one!
- 6 flatish tablespoons of buckwheat flour
- 1 teaspoon fast acting bread yeast (never used this before but pleasantly surprised that it worked well)
- pinch of salt (don’t leave it out the yeast needs it)
- 2 teacups of water at blood heat. (1/3 of a cup of boiling topped up with cold x2) (that’s about 1/2 a pint if you must measure)
- 1 heaped tablespoon of good, organic, natural set yogurt.(Not low fat for once!)
- 1 large free range organic egg (duck is best – chicken will do)
What you need to do on Day 1
- Mix the flour, salt & yeast in the bowl.
- Make a well in the middle
- Add the yogurt to the water, adjust the temperature back to about blood heat. (If you stick your clean finger in it it should feel quite warm but not too hot).
- Separate the egg and add the yolk to the well in the middle of the bowl. (Keep the white in your small bowl for later)
- Now add the liquids.
- Give it a good mix and gradually mix in all the flour. Don’t worry if it seems at all lumpy at this stage. It should be a thickish batter. (Very runny? Don’t panic, maybe the egg was a bit big, just add another tablespoon of flour)
- Put somewhere warm (not hot we are not rushing remember) & draft free with the clean tea towel draped over the the top for about an hour.
Go and have a cup of tea, check Facebook, wander over to Pinterest or talk to Twitter. Bask in the pleasant yeasty smell that is now emanating from the bowl.
After about an hour, check your bowl. There should be a pleasant yeasty smell and little frothy bubbles breaking the surface.
Now for the hardest bit. Time for a little kitchen workout. Use the balloon whisk to beat the egg white until it is stiff enough to leave firm peaks when you lift the whisk out. You could use a machine but come on, this is slow food and anyway, we all need the exercise!
When the egg white is done, (and no, you don’t have to hold the bowl over your head to prove it is done!) fold it gently into the batter. Use that big old metal spoon and a cutting & folding action. You don’t want to undo all the hard work you just did on the egg white, just mix it in.
Back goes the tea towel and the mixture goes in the fridge until tomorrow.
Meanwhile, back to what ever social media rings your bell, safe in the warm glow of being a domestic god/godess.
Making Blinis Day 2
Remove the batter from the fridge about an hour before you need to cook it. Put it back in a warm, draft free place. It will bubble again, the yeast only having got dozy in the fridge.
Heat your pan, griddle or girdle. Some very fancy people have special blini pans. I wouldn’t bother if I were you. They taste better when imperfectly shaped. Well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Once it is quite hot get a pad of kitchen paper and a tiny amount of organic butter. wipe over the surface with the pad. You are not trying to leave much fat on the surface, you don’t want them to fry!
You want an even heat, not smoking but hot.
Get your big metal spoon and fill it with mixture from the bowl. Drop a spoon full on to the hot surface. It will spread only a very small amount. If you have a big girdle (don’t!) like mine then you can do 6 three/four inch ones at a time. In a frying pan maybe one large one or three small ones.
Watch them carefully. Little bubbles will burst on the surface. This is a very good sign. They will start to look set. Lift up one edge with your flat bladed knife & check they are turning golden brown. Good
Using your knife flip the blini over and cook till that side is golden too. It will be less even
Elizabeth David’s Bread & Yeast Cookery (I’m on my 2nd copy!) has a somewhat similar recipe and lots of information about all sort of other yeasty goodies.