All About Blinis and Blini Pans

All About Blinis and Blini Pans

A blini pan is small diameter cooking pan, similar to a frying pan and a crepe pan. It is used primarily for making mini pancakes called blinis. A ‘pancake’ pan is a blini pan just slightly bigger. What makes this style handy is the pan size is small – which makes all your blinis or mini pancakes all the same size. If you find a pan with more than one mold, it’s even better because you can make multiple blinis at the same time.

The non-stick ones are multi taskers for eggs or silver dollar sized pancakes, made one at a time.

If you are wanting to know what a blini even is, traditionally it is a small buckwheat pancake served with caviar. They really are smallish, but since they are typically accompanying an appetizer, a snack, or a desert, they are not meant to be very large.

Here a description from Wikipedia about blinis:

Blinis were considered by early Slavic people in pre-Christian times to be a symbol of the sun, due to their round form. They were traditionally prepared at the end of winter to honor the rebirth of the new sun (Butter Week, or Maslenitsa, also called “butter week” or “pancake week”). This tradition was adopted by the Orthodox church and is carried on to the present day. Drochena, a kind of blini, was also served at wakes to commemorate the recently deceased.


Traditional Russian blinis are made with yeasted batter, which is left to rise and then diluted with milk, soured milk, cold or boiling water. When diluted with boiling water, they are referred to as zavarniye bliny. A lighter and thinner form made from unyeasted batter (usually made of flour, eggs, milk or soured milk, kefir, ryazhenka, varenets), is also common in Russia. Traditionally, blinis are baked in a Russian oven. The process of preparing blinis is still referred to as baking in Russian, even though they are nowadays pan-fried, like pancakes. All kinds of flour is used, from wheat and buckwheat to oatmeal and millet, although wheat is currently the most popular.

Here’s what a blini pan looks like:

Blini Pan

Single blini pan.

Non-stick blini pan.

Multiple mold blini pan.

Recipe for Buckwheat Blinis

Buckwheat is not a grain, but a seed. It is super healthy offering a great source of complex carbohydrates. Although buckwheat blinis are classic, blinis can be made from all purpose or whole wheat flour. Traditional batters call for a sponge with a yeast, which is made the day before, but quick blini batters just call for baking powder. Also, if you have leftovers, keep them in a plastic zipper bag (they are best eaten same day or within a day or two). Reheat by either wrapping in foil and placing in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes until warmed through, or covering with plastic wrap and heating just until warmed – do not overheat in the microwave or they will be mushy when hot and tough when cooled.

The All-Purpose Baking Book from King Arthur Flour has a great traditional recipe. In the book it says since Russians were not allowed to eat meat during Maslenitsa, they indulged in dairy products and fish. Therefore, caviar served with warm blini and sour cream was a perfect combination.

Buckwheat Blini

Category: Quick and Yeast Breads

This recipe makes classic buckwheat blinis, and calls for a sponge to be made the night before. It helps give the blini a tangy flavor that can't be recreated using other methods. It is leavened with yeast.

Ingredients

    For the Sponge
  • 1 1/3 cups whole buckwheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/3 cup instant dry milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
    For the Batter:
  • 2 eggs, room temperature, separated
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

Instructions

    Sponge:
  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Cover, and let rest overnight.
    Batter:
  1. Beat the yolks until light in a medium mixing bowl, then add the milk, sugar, and salt. Add the batter into the yolks, and let rest for 45 minutes.
  2. Add in the butter. Whip the egg whites until medium peaks form, and then fold into the batter.
  3. Heat a blini pan (or other heavy frying pan) over medium low heat. Add about 2-3 tablespoons of blini batter to the lightly oiled pan, and cook like regular pancakes, turning once bubbles burst on the top. Flip, then continue cooking until lightly browned and cooked through.
  4. Repeat. Keep blinis covered on a plate or stacked in a warm oven as you are cooking them.

Notes

Adapted from The All-Purpose Baking Companion by The King Author Flour Company, Inc., Countryman Press, 2003.

http://www.pastrysampler.com/blog/all-about-blinis-and-blini-pans/

 

Links to blini pans we like from favorite affiliates:

 

  • Item: Carbon steel blini pan, 4 3/4″ (Amazon)
  • Maker: Paderno World-Cuisine
  • Why we like it: Heavy duty carbon steel is a great heat conductor and lasts a lifetime. Even though you need to hand wash carbon steel and treat it like your cast iron skillet, these pans will last forever and season up well after using them.

 

  • Item:Nonstick Classic Blinis Pan (Sur la Table)
  • Maker: Scanpan
  • Why we like it: Oven safe non-stick pan made with PFOA free coating, with a lifetime warranty. It has 9 molds so you can make blinis for everyone at the same time. While hand washing is recommended, the non-stick surface makes clean up a breeze.

 

 

 

Oatcakes – Oat Biscuits Perfect for Tea and Snacking

Ok, I’m in love with oatcakes. At least this recipe. In celebration of national oatmeal month (January) I dove into my collection of recipes to find some outstanding ones using oatmeal. I almost overlooked this one.

Oatcakes are savory biscuits (although sweet ones are out there) that are like crackers, and are great served with tea as a crisp alternative to cookies. My kids love them, and lathering them up with a small spread of cream cheese and a raspberry or cherry jam makes them irresistible.

Lots of recipes call for cutting them into rounds, but I find cutting them into squares or rectangles gets rid of the problem of excess dough you need to reroll – just roll out the dough into a square or rectangle, and cut into smaller versions. I docked mine with the tip of a fork, but that isn’t necessary.

Some recipes call for nothing more than oatmeal, butter, and baking soda, with some hot water to bind it together. I add some brown sugar and a bit of salt to bring some flavor. These crackers are good with just about anything. If you add another tablespoon of brown sugar, they turn into almost a sweet and simple oatmeal cookie.

Oatcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats (oatmeal)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons hot water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place oatmeal in a blender and pulse a couple of seconds until the oatmeal is ground. Place in a bowl.
  3. Add in the flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt.
  4. Cut in the butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles course meal and the butter has been mixed in.
  5. Add in the hot water, and with a spoon mix into a ball.
  6. Place on a lightly floured work surface and roll out into desired thickness. Cut into rounds, or into squares. If there is any leftover, roll out again and cut.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for about 13 minutes, then flip each over and return to oven for about 2-3 minutes more, until the oatcakes are crisp and light browned.
  8. Let them cool, and enjoy.
Tomatoes and Sugar: Divine Fresh Garden Treat

Tomatoes and Sugar: Divine Fresh Garden Treat

It’s no secret that I love love love tomatoes from the garden. This year, I planted wild tomatoes, San Marzano plum tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, yellow and red cherry tomatoes, and Black Krim tomatoes. I had tomatoes to my heart’s content. And sometimes when I’m slicing a fully ripened tomato, I get a flashback memory of my grandmother serving up a sweet version of tomatoes when I was a kid.

She liked to garden, too, and she did it on a big scale. She had the green thumb of all green thumbs, and every once in a while, she would make me a special treat: sliced tomatoes with cream and sugar. Served cold, there was just enough sugar to complement the light acid of the fresh tomato. To fully appreciate this dish, though, there is no way it could be recreated with tasteless supermarket tomatoes. The tomatoes called for here must be vine ripened.

This recipe below is adapted from The Southern Junior League Cookbook, and features cherry tomatoes sweetened with brown sugar, lightly sauteed in butter and served with cream. For those who have never had tomatoes with cream and sugar, it is an unusual treat. I like my tomatoes cold, but this recipe caters to those who like the dish warmed.

Cherry Tomatoes in Cream

Yield 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 box organic, vine-ripened cherry tomatoes
  • 1 pint heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet, and add in the butter and salt. Stir.
  2. Add in washed and dried tomatoes, and stir gently until the tomatoes begin to split.
  3. Add the cream, and serve.

Notes

This recipe is adapted from The Southern Junior League Cookbook: The Best Recipes from the Junior Leagues of the American South, edited by Ann Seranne from 1977. The book has all kinds of classic recipes from 29 different Junior Leagues from southern states.

Brown Sugar Meringue Spiced Picnic Cake

Brown Sugar Meringue Spiced Picnic Cake

The warm weather is upon us, and with it comes picnics and potlucks. Picnic cakes are the quick and easy solution if you are tasked with bringing a dessert: they are portable, store well at room temperature, and are typically baked in a 9 inch by 13 inch pan. I’m working on posting my top 10 picnic cakes, and this one ranks high with my kids.

The spice cake contains sour cream mixed with a little baking soda to give it extra richness as well as lightness. The brown sugar meringue topping has chopped pecans folded inside, and it bakes up to a lovely, toasty color when the cake is finished.

Enjoy it with your favorite iced coffee or sweet tea.

Brown Sugar Meringue Spiced Picnic Cake

Delicious brown sugar and pecan meringue tops a spice cake.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/3 all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Instructions

  1. Grease a 9 inch by 13 inch baking pan. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Place the flour in a small mixing bowl. Stir in the baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg. Set aside.
  3. Stir the sour cream with the baking soda and milk until smooth. Set aside.
  4. Cream the butter with the granulated sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar until blended well. Add in the egg yolks and the vanilla extract, and mix thoroughly.
  5. Mix in the sour cream mixture, and blend well.
  6. Add in the flour mixture, and mix until smooth.
  7. Transfer cake batter into the prepared pan, and spread evenly.
  8. In a clean mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until firm peaks form and add in the brown sugar gradually. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Fold in the chopped pecans. Spread this over the top of the cake batter.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for about an hour, until the topping is golden brown and the cake tests done.
  10. Cool, and cut into serving size squares.

 

Breaking Breads by Uri Scheft

Breaking Breads by Uri Scheft

Breaking Breads by Uri Scheft gives spirit to old favorites, and is a reflection of the author’s travels. Traditional challah, laminated breads, flatbreads, and stuffed breads are all greatly described and made, and he mixes contemporary ingredients with traditional methods. And it’s not just about yeast breads – we are presented with wonderful treats for afternoon tea or coffee, too, and all the things to serve them with,  a surprising focus on the savory here.

Secrets of Well-Proofed and Well-Handled Dough

While there are non-bread recipes, the bulk of the book details on creating the best bread at home, from start to finish. Actually, the introduction contains a great section on bread basics, from ingredients and mixing, to baking and creating your own steam oven easily at home. Scheft even goes into bakers percentages (using flour as your 100% benchmark) and the proper way of scaling up a recipe precisely and mathematically, since baking really is a science.

The color photos throughout Breaking Breads show the perfect baked recipe and step by step instructions on how to complete tasks. Examples include showing how to shape and braid a perfect challah and how to stretch the paper thin strudel needed for all its glorious wafer-thin layers. And let me tell you, nothing is as much fun as stretching strudel dough over a large table.

Most of the recipes have long instructions, but don’t be turned off by that. It is like the author is there instructing you step by step. Without his clear guidelines it wouldn’t be as easy to recreate some of the treasures in the book.

All the recipes make you want to spend a few days in the bakeshop baking, but my favorite recipe in the book isn’t even a bread at all, though. It’s a Middle Eastern twist on the traditional Mexican wedding cookies or Russian tea cakes (same thing) – with the addition of tahini paste and sesame seeds. A really lovely book all around.

Tahini Cookies

Yield 40 cookies

Middle East version of the sweet baked snowballs we call "Mexican Wedding Cookies" or "Russian Tea Cakes." They are rolled in sesame seeds rather than powdered sugar before baking.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup tahini sesame paste
  • Scant 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon white rum (optional)
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds, plus more if needed

Instructions

  1. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in the bowl of a stand up mixer. Add in the almond flour and sugar. Mix on low speed to combine, and then add the butter, tahini paste, honey, and vanilla. Mix on medium low speed until the mixture is pebbly with no butter pieces larger than a small pea, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rum now, if using. Continue to mix the dough until it is just combined.
  2. Pour the sesame seeds into a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Adjust one oven rack to the upper-middle position and another to the lower-middle position, and preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  4. Using your hands, roll the dough into balls about the size of a large marble (you should get roughly 40 cookies that size). Dip one side of a ball into the sesame seeds, place it sesame-side up on a parchment lined sheet, and press gently with your finger to flatten it slightly. Repeat with remaining balls.
  5. Bake the cookies, turning the sheets and rotating them between top and bottom racks midway through, until the are firm to the touch and only slightly golden, about 8 minutes. Do not overbake them.
  6. Let them cool completely on the pans before transferring them to a rack.

Book Info:

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher and any opinions are my own. Affiliate links help support the site. 🙂