Homemade blinis are a world away from the thick, claggy discs sold in vacuum-packed plastic. Originally from Russia, they’re traditionally made with buckwheat flour, but I prefer Delia Smith’s lighter version which uses a mixture of strong white and buckwheat. You can make these large (approx 10cm diameter) as a starter, or in smaller bite-sized canapé portions. Top with crème fraîche, smoked salmon and dill or caviar if you’re feeling flush. Wash down with a shot of chilled vodka.
Makes about 24 blinis
50g buckwheat flour
175g strong white plain flour
1 x 6g sachet easy-blend dried yeast
1 x 500ml tub crème fraîche (reserve 300ml for the topping)
225ml whole milk
2 large eggs
1 tsp salt
For the topping
450 smoked salmon
300ml crème fraîche
A few dill sprigs
Sift the salt, buckwheat flour and plain flour together into a large bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Place 200ml of the crème fraîche into a measuring jug and add enough milk to bring it up to the 425ml level. Warm gently (in a saucepan or microwave) – don’t let it get too hot or it will kill the yeast. Separate the eggs and mix the yolks into the milk (keeping the whites for later). Pour the whole lot into the flour mixture and whisk until you have a thick batter. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place for about an hour.
After an hour the batter will be spongy and bubbly. Now whisk up the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and fold them gently into the batter. Cover with the cloth again and leave as before for another hour.
To make the blinis, melt the butter in a heavy based frying pan, then tip it out into a cup and use the melted butter to brush the pan all over (with a tight wodge of kitchen paper) as you make each blini. Keep the pan on a medium heat and add 1½ tbsp of batter for each blini. Don’t worry if it looks too thick – it’s just light and puffy. After 40 seconds, flip the blini over and give it 30 seconds on the other side. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and repeat, brushing the pan with butter each time. [If you’re making canapés, use teaspoonfuls of the mixture and cook for about 15 seconds on each side.]
Once all the blinis are made and cooled, wrap them in foil parcels, with 6 laid out flat in each one. To serve, preheat the oven to 140 C (lower for fan ovens) and warm the foil parcels for 10 minutes. Serve two or three per person, topped with smoked salmon and a sprig of dill, with a dollop of crème fraîche on the side.