These nutty buckwheat blini make the perfect brunch bites topped with salty smoked salmon, tangy creme fraiche, and fresh dill.
Over a decade ago, Vu’s sister took us to our first Michelin star restaurant, Gary Danko in San Francisco. Despite the fancy tasting menu, the most memorable part of the meal was their signature buckwheat blini. Blini are traditional Russian yeasted buckwheat pancakes. With Sunday brunch being our favorite part of the weekend, I decided to whip up some buckwheat blini using the recipe from the Perfect Start to Your Day cookbook by Tonia George.
Tips for Making Blini
- Use instant yeast for this recipe. The blini batter requires an hour to proof.
- When working with yeast, it’s important to keep the temperature of the milk below 110℉ or the yeast will die.
- Always check the expiration date on your yeast package otherwise the yeast might be old and the batter won’t rise properly.
- Avoid overmixing the batter to prevent gluten formation which results in tough blini. It’s ok for the batter to be a little lumpy.
- Fold in the whipped egg white right before you cook the blini to keep them fluffy.
- The batter can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated overnight. Let it come to room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.
How to Cook Blini
- Use a non-stick pan to cook the blinis.
- Blinis come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but I like the smaller ones with a diameter of two to two and a half inches.
- Use a spoon or small ice cream scoop to portion out about one to one half tablespoon of batter.
- Brush a thin layer of melted butter or vegetable on the skillet before you scoop out the batter.
- Cook on medium heat for about 45 seconds to 1 minute on each side until golden brown.
- Avoid overcrowding the pan. Only cook three to four blini at a time.
- Lay the cooked blini in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover the baking sheet with a kitchen towel to keep the blini from drying out.
What to Serve Blini With
Russians eat blini with a dollop of sour cream, topping it with smoked fish, herring or caviar. We like our blini with savory toppings like smoked salmon, creme fraiche, and dill. You can go fancy with caviar or go with an affordable alternative like salmon roe. Use drained yogurt, reduced fat sour cream, or cream cheese if you can’t find creme fraiche. For a sweet pairing with the buckwheat blinis, my balsamic cherry compote is a great option along with whipped mascarpone, creme fraiche, or strained yogurt.
I love the savory flavor of these nutty, fluffy, buckwheat blini with salty smoked salmon and tangy creme fraiche. They make the perfect brunch bites that will have you coming back for more!
Buckwheat Blini with Smoked Salmon and Creme Fraiche
- ⅓ cup buckwheat flour
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup whole milk, warm
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- ⅓ cup creme fraiche
- 1 large egg, separated
- ½ pound smoked salmon
- ½ cup creme fraiche
- ¼ cup chopped dill
- Maldon salt and freshly ground pepper
- Pour milk in a small bowl and warm it in the microwave until lukewarm. Make sure the max temperature is 105-110 degrees. Add sugar and give it a quick stir before adding the yeast. Let mixture sit for 5 minutes, until foamy.
- In mixing bowl, sift flours and salt.
- Add creme fraiche, egg yolk, and yeast mixture into bowl. Stir until well combined. Cover and let it stand for 1 hour until the volume doubles.
- In a stand mixture using the whisk attachment, beat egg white until soft peaks form. Gently fold egg white into the batter.
- To make blini, heat nonstick skillet over medium heat.
- Grease pan with paper towel dipped in vegetable oil.
- Use spoon or small ice cream scoop and drop in 1 ½ tablespoons of batter.
- Cook for 45 seconds bubbles start to appear. Flip the blini and cook until golden brown, another 45 seconds. Transfer blini to serving plate.
- Repeat until batter is gone.
- Serve blini with smoked salmon, a dollop of creme fraiche, and chopped dill. Season with salt and pepper to taste.