Want to explore the world from your home? Head to the pantry and try your hand at global foods. A steaming-hot wafer-thin pancake, filled with anything from cherries and cream to salmon and caviar, the blin is a quick-fire way to the heart of Russia’s street life.
What is it?
Bliny, being round, yellow and hot, emerged in ancient Slav pagan culture as a symbol of the sun’s return after the ravages of winter. They then shifted their meaning after the emergence of the Orthodox Church to become a central presence in the celebration of Maslenitsa, Russian Holy Week. The fact that the modern blin remains similar to the pagan one is testament to its position in the Russian popular consciousness, not to mention its irresistible tastiness.
Ingredients (makes 12 - 16 bliny)
heaping 1⁄4 cup buckwheat flour
heaping 1⁄4 cup plain (all- purpose) flour
1⁄3 tsp baking powder
3⁄4 cup milk
1⁄3 tsp dried yeast powder
1 egg, separated
125g (41⁄3oz) butter
How to make
Step 1: Sift together the buckwheat flour, plain flour and baking powder into a large bowl.
Step 2: Mix the milk and yeast together, then beat in the egg yolk.
Step 3: Add the liquid mixture to the flour and whisk into a smooth paste.
Step 4: Whisk the egg white until it is in smooth peaks, then fold into the flour and yeast mixture.
Step 5: Heat the butter in a frying pan, then add the batter a tablespoon at a time, until the pan is thinly covered. Fry until the surface begins to bubble, then flip and cook the other side.
Step 6: Serve with a filling of your choice – try salmon and cream cheese or cherries and cream.
At the height of the Russian winter, stepping into a warm bliny shop is like getting a big hug from an old friend. A queue of people stands in front of a counter of servers clutching frying pans, taking their time to choose their fillings. The bliny are then fried to order – when they finally arrive, that first bite of the hot, paper-thin pancake folded in a triangle, with the filling oozing out and demanding to be licked off sticky fingers, is the definition of comfort food. But more than that, it is the social aspects of the ritual that make it really stand out. Every walk of Russian life is here, popping in to tuck into a centuries-old snack.
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