Makes 25 to 30
Jennifer has adapted the recipe for these buttery rich blini from Anya von Bremzen’s authoritative volume on Russian cuisine, Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook. Making them is an all-day event, but when you’re done, you have the perfect accompaniment for caviar and sour cream.
4 large eggs, separated
5 tsp sugar
1¼L whole milk
1 tsp salt
5 tsp active dry yeast
709ml all-purpose flour
45ml unsalted butter, melted
1 raw potato, halved
1. Heat 970ml of the milk in a saucepan until it is about to simmer. Remove from heat and pour into a non-reactive bowl and allow to cool to lukewarm.
2. When the milk has reached the desired temperature, add 1 tsp of the sugar and all of the yeast to the bowl. Gently stir to combine, then let it stand until foam begins to gather on the surface (up to 7 minutes).
3. Whisk in half of the flour until the mixture is smooth. Cover with a clean cloth, and put in a warm place with no draughts. Let it stand until the mixture doubles in bulk, this can take up to 75 minutes.
4. Melt the butter and allow to cool to room temperature. Whisk in the butter, remaining flour, 30ml of vegetable oil, and the remainder of the sugar (4 tsp). Set aside in the same warm place, covered, until the mixture doubles in bulk again (up to 50 minutes).
5. Bring the remainder of the milk (280ml) to the boil in a saucepan. Remove from the heat, and pour into the batter, whisking steadily as you do.
6. Separate the eggs. Beat the yolks until they take on a thicker consistency (3 minutes) and stir into the batter.
7. In a separate bowl, or in a standing mixer, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then fold them into the batter.
8. Cover the batter and place in the same warm space and let stand a final time for up to 50 minutes.
9. Prepare the blini pan: use a flat, non-stick skillet or special crepe or blini pan on a medium-high heat. Pour vegetable oil into a small bowl. Cut the potato in half, then insert a fork into the skin side. Dip the potato into the oil, then rub it over the surface of the heated blini pan.
10. Ladle 60ml of batter onto the prepared skillet. Cook until you see bubbles on the surface of the blini. Flip with a spatula and cook for another minute on the other side. Flip again for a 30 second finish. Work as quickly as you can pouring the batter so that the surface of the blini is a uniform colour.
11. Keep the blini warm in a 150C oven, loosely tented with aluminium foil, or store for up to 2 days in the fridge and reheat in the microwave or the oven.