As a luxurious break from cheese trays and dips, a tray of blini raises the character of your party table from nice to splendid. Nearly bite-sized pancakes, blini are traditionally made of buckwheat and served with sour cream and smoked fish or caviar. Despite their elegant accompaniments, blini are surprisingly easy to make. Most recipes yield between four and six dozen blini. With some caveats, leftover blini can be frozen until your next party.
Blini Batter Components
Classic Russian blini are made from a yeast-based dough containing eggs, milk, heavy cream, buckwheat and wheat flours and sour cream or yogurt. The eggs are often separated, and the whites are whipped stiffly to make the blini puffier. Buckwheat flour is used to give blini an earthy taste, but white or whole-wheat flour must be included to give the dough the elasticity provided by gluten. While some shortcut recipes use baking powder or soda, reduce the fat content or substitute cornmeal for buckwheat flour, classic blini batter produces puffy, even lumpy little pancakes rather than flat crepelike ones. Leavening with yeast, high dairy content and the differing behaviors of the two flours are all factors that raise questions about freezing blini.
Freezing Blini Batter
Food professionals differ on the wisdom of freezing even simple pancake-type batters, generally agreeing that if you freeze any type of pancake or waffle batter, you need to be prepared for some separation of ingredients. Overnight thawing in the refrigerator and thorough stirring often remedy separation, but you may need to add more flour and perhaps more liquid to achieve the original consistency. While commercially prepared raw yeast doughs are often freezable, it's advisable to use only recipes specifically designed for freezing when preparing raw doughs and batters at home. Whipped egg whites and numerous dairy products complicate thawing results for raw classic blini batter. In general, you are likely to get better results by cooking the full batch of batter and freezing leftover cooked blini.
Batters That Freeze
If your recipe contains only milk, eggs, baking powder or soda and flour, you may want to experiment with freezing. Pour batter into a heavyweight recloseable freezer bag and squeeze out any air bubbles. Store at 0 degrees Fahrenheit for a week to a month. Both pancake-mix manufacturers and home cooks report success with freezing batters for a month or less, although more recommend cooking before freezing.
Freezing Cooked Blini
On a sheet of plastic wrap, make layers of blini, separated by sheets of parchment or waxed paper. Wrap plastic around the stack of blini, and then wrap the package in foil. Your goal is to protect the blini from drying out or becoming freezer burned. Store at 0 F.
Thawing Frozen Blini
To thaw frozen blini, unwrap the foil and spread it on your work surface. Remove the frozen blini from the plastic wrap and parchment paper and stack them loosely on the foil. Fold foil seams to make a sealed package and warm the blini in a 350 F oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Open the package carefully to avoid injury from steam.
- The New York Times: Blini at the Buffet
- Nigella.com: Kitchen Queries: Freezing Nigella's Potato Cakes
- Black Book Cooking: Crepe, Pikelet, Pancake, Blinis and Yorkshire Pudding Batter
- The Boston Globe: Recipe for Cocktail Buckwheat Blini
- North Dakota State University Extension Service: Food Freezing Guide
- Hungry Jack: Pancake and Waffle Mix Frequently Asked Questions
- The Kitchn: Did You Know That You Can Freeze Pancake Batter?