Tasty savoury sourdough buckwheat blinis made using natural leaven. Perfect served as a base for canapés, or as breakfast pancakes with a difference
There is no time of day at which the right answer can’t be pancakes. From fluffy American for breakfast (like our Banana, Nectarine & Linseed Pancakes or Mango & Blueberry Pancakes), served with butter, maple syrup and a couple of rashers of bacon, to Breton galettes made with buckwheat and crêpes at lunchtime to drop scones or Scotch pancakes in the afternoon, finishing the day with a spectacular crêpes Suzette flambé.
There’s one pancake missing from that list above, the Russian blini. Small, served warm and classically topped with sour cream, dill and smoked fish, it’s a perfect pre-dinner snack or canapé. Like pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, they’re traditionally served just before lent, but unlike our thinner, larger versions, it’s a fluffy, yeast raised offering. And far too good to be reserved for just one day of the year.
We made these blinis using both sourdough starter or leaven as well as bread maker’s yeast. The sourdough adds a sourness, that really works with the savoury flavours from buckwheat flour, but by using yeast to raise and aerate the batter, you won’t have the longer wait associated with natural, sourdough yeasts.
A traditional topping for these little morsels is smoked fish, especially smoked salmon, with some sour cream and maybe a little pinch of fish roe, but there are a myriad of ways to top them. A little smear of chopped egg, cress and mayonnaise? Cream cheese and a roast pepper relish? Goat’s cheese and a little slice of fig? Or replace the fig with a little slice of Prosciutto or another dried ham? They’re so versatile that the only limit is your imagination.
Blinis, like many bite sized foods, aren’t difficult to make, but can be a little fiddly. Dissolve the yeast in warm milk, add the sourdough leaven and egg yolk and stir it in: by stirring the yeast into the liquid, you make sure it’s evenly distributed through the batter. Add the dry ingredients, and then leave for an hour or so to let the yeast aerate the batter. By whisking the egg white and stirring it in, you will be adding extra aeration to the final batter to give the lightest fluffiest blini possible.
So for your next party, why not answer the question with the right pancake answer: sourdough buckwheat blinis.
- 130 ml milk
- ½ tsp dried yeast
- 80 g ripe sourdough leaven
- 1 egg separated into yolk and white
- 40 g white flour
- 40 g buckwheat flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp butter for cooking
Warm the milk to about 30°C, and whisk in the yeast to dissolve it.
- Add the sourdough leaven and egg yolk to the milk and mix together.
Then mix in the flour, buckwheat flour and salt. Cover, and leave for about one hour to allow the yeast to work – it’s ready when spongy, aerated and bubbly.
- When ready, preheat a heavy bottomed frying, pancake or blini pan on a medium to low heat.
- Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and fold into the batter.
- Wipe the pan with a little butter, and spoon in the mixture, using about 1 tablespoon per blini, to make them sized for an easy mouthful.
- Turn once, when brown on the bottom.
- Allow to cool before adding the toppings: we went for smoked salmon, sour cream and lumpfish roe, but let the imagination reign. How about smoked trout with a horseradish soured cream; or a delicate slice of roast beef, again with horseradish? Or make them a little larger and serve for a breakfast treat with rich and creamy scrambled eggs, garnished with smoked salmon.