Blinis are like light, savory pancakes.
The center of the blinis are soft and moist, while their outsides are lightly browned and caramelized. Cooking the blinis in butter imparts a sweet, nutty flavor, but they also have a pronounced yeast flavor – similar to sourdough – with just a hint of bitterness. Their delicate flavor works well with a number of different garnishes and they make a very elegant vessel for caviar.
- Yeast in bloom. For perfectly pillowy blinis, you’ve got to bloom your yeast: Using a digital thermometer, make sure your warmed milk comes to a temperature between 110°F and 150°F, before whisking in the yeast. Cover the milk tightly and keep it in a warm place for 10 minutes before proceeding with the recipe.
- Flawlessly foamy whites. Before you begin working with the egg whites, be sure that your bowl and whisk are impeccably clean. Fat, oil and other contaminants will prevent the whites from whipping properly.
- Extra credit. For blinis with restaurant-quality looks, place ring molds on your nonstick pan and pour the batter in. You’ll be rewarded with perfect circles.
This tool is one we find especially helpful when making this dish.
- Balloon whisk. Shaped like a wide teardrop, this type of whisk effectively brings air into the mix when you’re stirring your blini batter or whipping your egg whites.
The list below includes all the equipment you’ll want to make this dish.
- Large bowls
- Balloon whisk
- Digital thermometer
- Small off-set spatula or thin slotted spatula
- Baking tray with absorbent paper sift or fine mesh strainer
- Plastic spatula
- 12-inch non-stick sauté pan or griddle
- Optional: small ring molds
- 3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 1 package yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Butter for cooking plus additional melted for serving
Yield: 30-40 small blinis
Total Time: 2 Hours
Active Time: 1 Hour
Note: This recipe yields more blinis than two people would likely consume in one meal. Instead of halving the recipe, we suggest that you reserve half of the batter and cook the following day.
- Warm the milk in a small saucepan until its temperature measures between 110 and 150°F on a digital probe thermometer (it should be warm but not simmering). Turn off the heat and whisk in the yeast. Let it fully dissolve and bloom for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, sift together the flour, salt and sugar.
- Whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the grapeseed oil, whisking constantly.
- Slowly whisk the milk mixture into the egg yolks and oil, stirring constantly. Add sour cream and whisk to combine.
- When fully combined, fold in the flour mixture.
- Cover the bowl and let the batter rise for 1 hour at room temperature.
- Once batter has risen, whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until the peaks hold their shape. Stir ⅓ of the egg whites into the batter. When combined, fold in the rest of the egg whites gently.
- Heat a nonstick (or teflon) sauté pan or nonstick griddle over medium heat and enough butter to lightly coat the pan. Drop the batter, 1 tablespoon at time onto the griddle. You can also use small ring molds for perfectly round blinis.
- Cook the blinis until bubbles surface and pop. When the tops look like they’re beginning to set and the bottoms are golden brown, flip them to brown the other side. Hold for up to 30 minutes, warming in a 200°F oven when ready to serve.
- Serve with melted butter brushed over the top.
Blinis with smoked salmon & crème fraîche
Blinis also work as a base for passed canapés. Top them with crème fraîche and smoked salmon, or any smoked fish of your choosing.