Stuffed with sweet or savory fillings, the pancake is an important part of Russian culinary culture. Here’s how to make them.
By Elena Szeliga
Russian pancakes, also known as blini or blinchiki, are really special for people raised in Russia or former USSR. They are a pearl of Russian cuisine.
They are about to become your favorite pancake, too. And here is why:
- They are much wider and thinner than American-style pancakes but not as thin and wide as crepes. It allows you to stuff them with everything you like.
- They can be filled with minced meat, cheese, ham, mushrooms, or anything savory you like and then fried the second time, like chimichangas. They can be also eaten with jams, chocolate cream, poppy seeds, condensed milk (sgushenka), berries, honey, apples and cinnamon or every other sweet.
- If you want to serve them at a fancy event, you can eat them with caviar, smoked salmon, and sour cream. They are a blank page you can fill according to your culinary preferences. Like stuffing with sausages or using them to wrap yesterday’s Russian chicken salad.
- The classic Russian pancakes are made of wheat flour, milk and eggs (+ some secret ingredients you will find below) but you can experiment with rye or oatmeal flour, use beer or kefir instead of milk or add yeast to the batter.
You can eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner and never get tired of them, as the possibilities are countless.
Remember I said they are important for our culture? Here is an example: we have a holiday called Maslenitsa dedicated to pancakes. It comes from an old Slavic tradition to worship the beginning of spring with pancakes, symbolizing the sun. It was even adopted by the Orthodox church. Maslenitsa lasts for a week. You are supposed to make and eat tons of pancakes during that time.
One more thing, you can’t make just 4 RP at once. You can’t make 10. If you start to make them, you should make the right amount (which is at least 40!), because they are still tasty on the second day.
Bonus fact: The singular for pancake – “blin” is used instead of cursing in Russian language. Isn’t that cute?
Frying pancakes is easy but you have to be careful not to burn them, as they become ready quite fast. Before you start frying the first RP, the pan should be really hot. You can test it by sprinkling a drop of water on it and if it starts vaporizing immediately, you can start frying. There is a Russian saying: “The first pancake always comes out a lump”. So be warned. And I recommend using two pans simultaneously, for the sake of time.
- 400 grams or 1¾ cups wheat flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 3 tablespoon sugar
- 2 eggs
- 800 ml or 3? cups milk
- 100 ml or ½ cups cream (for lower calories intake use milk instead)
- 5 tablespoons butter
- sunflower oil to fry
- In a bowl, mix flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
- Mix eggs and sugar with a mixer.
- Add milk and cream while mixing.
- Gradually add the flour mixture and blend until smooth. The consistency of the batter should be a bit thicker than cream.
- Heat two pans over high heat. Melt butter and add it to the batter. Blend until smooth.
- Pour a tiny bit of sunflower oil in both pans.
- Use a scoop to pour the batter in the middle of the pan. Tilt the pan from side to side while pouring, forming a circle with the batter.
- Flip the pancake over with a thin spatula, after the surface looks porous and sides are golden.
- Fry for half of the time you fried the first side.
- Repeat with the rest.
- You might want to put them in the warm oven (not more then 70 °C/160 °F) to keep them hot before serving.