Russian Blini

I absolutely adore it when I discover a new dish that I fall madly in love with. In Russia, there have been a few things that have made their way into the food section of my heart (a rather large section, mind you), but there's one that just outdoes them all, one that has a special, warm place, with extra privileges, and one that I realized I couldn't possibly live without...blini.

Since we'll be in Russia until June, I'll have plenty of options for my blini-eating needs, but once we venture back to the U.S., I'll need to have a plan, and fortunately it's as simple as learning to make them myself.

Blini look an awful lot like crepes, and sometimes that's what they're referred to as, "Russian crepes," but I much prefer to let the French have their crepes (drooling now) and the Russians have their blini. The ingredients in each are really almost identical, but don't tell either country that. 

Here's what you'll need for 6 blini (good for 2 hungry people):

  • 1 cup milk (at room temperature)
  • 2 eggs (at room temperature)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • Butter for greasing the pan
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
  • Toppings of your choice
    • Fruit or berries
    • Jam
    • Sour cream
    • Caviar
    • Nutella
    • Sguschenka (I'll explain below)
There's no need to get extra large eggs if you don't have them. These little nuggets do just fine.

There's no need to get extra large eggs if you don't have them. These little nuggets do just fine.

Begin by whisking the eggs, milk, and pinch of salt together.

Next, gradually mix in the flower.

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You'll have a thin batter, which is what you want.

Don't worry about tiny flecks of flour in your batter. They will disappear when cooked.

Don't worry about tiny flecks of flour in your batter. They will disappear when cooked.

So, if you have a blini/crepe pan, great! If not, any flat bottom pan should work just fine. I wouldn't recommend cast iron though.

Slice off a dab of butter and melt it over medium-high heat.

WARNING: Do not add the batter to the pan while it is on the heat.

The batter is so thin and will cook before you get a chance to completely cover the bottom, so you need to remove the pan from the heat when you add the batter.

If you're in the mood for a sweeter bite, add a sprinkling of sugar to each blini as soon as you've ladled it into the pan.

Cook until the the batter has becomes solid (about two minutes). Then flip and cook for another minute.

The blini should be browned to your liking. I like a slightly underdone one myself. Tyler likes them crisp on the edges.

The blini should be browned to your liking. I like a slightly underdone one myself. Tyler likes them crisp on the edges.

Keep cooking the blini, stacking them on a plate and covering with a towel to keep them warm in the meantime.

Once your blini and cooked and ready to be devoured, it's time to decide what you'll top them with. In Russia, people fill them with ham and cheese, mushrooms, or chicken, to name a few.

Sometimes though, they're topped with sguschenka. Sguschenka (Сгущёнка) is the equivalent of sweetened condensed milk and it fills the shelves of Russian grocery stores everywhere.

It goes so well, squeezed over a blini or three.

I like to add a bit of cinnamon.

P.S. Goes well with coffee.

And then I fold it onto itself and take what's rightfully mine.

This won't be the last you hear of my blini adventures, but in the meantime, give it a go and let me know how it turns out.

Any ideas for other toppings or variations? Leave me a comment if you do.