Although the traditional recipe suggests blini with salmon roe, caviar, and sour cream, the sky is the limit when it comes to these versatile little rounds. Fresh fruit, ricotta, whipped cream, or chopped hard-boiled eggs are just a few of the things you can put on top. Think of blini as a blank canvas for all the mixtures you can come up with—tradition aside, they're a great base for any meat, cheese, or spread. Served warm or at room temperature, once they're topped they should be enjoyed right away. In the Russian tradition, blini symbolize the sun and take center stage at Maslenitsa—also known as Butter Week, Pancake Week, or Cheesefare Week—a spring festival marking the end of winter. For some, it also marks the last week to eat dairy before the fasting of Lent begins, thus the common addition of sour cream on top. Nowadays, blini are prepared in hundreds of different ways, with many types of flours, and their accompaniments have gone beyond the traditional caviar. The batter is made with common pantry staples, so the only different thing you need is the flavorful buckwheat flour, easily found in the baking aisle of most grocery stores.
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon yeast, instant or rapid-rise
1 cup milk, warm
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg, whites and yolk separated; room temperature
# In a large bowl, whisk together the buckwheat flour with the all-purpose flour, salt, and instant yeast.
# Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, mixing until the batter is smooth.
# Cover the bowl and let the batter rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
# Stir into the batter the cooled, melted butter and the egg yolk.
# In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white until stiff but not dry.
# Fold the whisked egg white into the batter.
# Cover the bowl and let the batter stand 20 minutes.
# Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
# Drop quarter-sized dollops of dough into a pan being careful not to overcrowd it. Cook for about 1 minute or until bubbles form.
# Turn and cook for about 30 additional seconds.
# Remove the finished blini onto a plate and cover them with a clean kitchen towel to keep them warm. Repeat the frying process with the remaining batter.
# Serve with your favorite toppings.