There is 3 hours of resting time in this recipe plus preparing and mixing the ingredients and then cooking the blini. So it’s a good idea to make them the day before you need them, or start early on the day. Makes 30-40 blini which serves 6-8 people as a starter or about 15 people as a canapé.
- Measure out the crème fraiche into a small bowl and work it with a spoon a little to soften it and smooth the consistency. It is important that it is not too cold, so it is best to remove it from the fridge 30 minutes before using.
- Combine white bread flour, salt and nigella seeds in a good-sized mixing bowl and mix.
- Separate the eggs – putting the egg yolks in a little dish and the egg whites in a bowl suitable for whisking later. Cover the whites and put to one side for now. Mix the egg yolks with a fork.
- Bring the milk to a boil in a small non-stick saucepan. Remove from heat and quickly stir in the crème fraiche. Add the dried yeast, stir thoroughly then add the egg yolk mix. Stir again until well combined.
- Pour milk pan mixture into the flour bowl, stirring as you pour. When the mix is completely combined, cover the mixing bowl with a teatowel and leave in a very warm place for an hour (e.g. in an airing cupboard, on a radiator or by a window in full sun).
- When the hour is up, whisk the two egg whites to the soft peak stage. Then use a metal spoon to carefully fold them into the blini mixture until fully incorporated. Re-cover the blini batter with the tea towel and leave in the same very warm place for a couple more hours.
- Before you start to cook the blini, melt the butter in a small pan on the stove or in a dish in the microwave. Drain off the yellow butter oil and discard the white buttermilk liquid left at the bottom. The yellow butter oil is the clarified butter you will use for frying the blini. It is important to use clarified butter so that it doesn’t burn in the pan and discolour the blini.
- When the blini mixture has rested long enough, heat 1/3 of the clarified butter in a wide frying pan on a fairly high heat.
- Transfer 5 or 6 spoonfuls of blini batter to the frying pan – neatly pouring each onto a separate part of the frying pan so they don’t merge into a mega-blini. You want circles of about 4-5cm across so adjust the amount of batter in the spoon accordingly. I find doing more than 6 in a batch means the first ones overcook before I get them all in!
- When the base of each blini has started to brown turn them and cook the other side until it is completely cooked through and starting to brown – this won’t take long – in total a few minutes. Remove blini and place on paper towel to blot any excess butter.
- Ensure pan is still hot, then add the next batch of blini batter, repeating steps 9-10 until you have used all the batter, adding more of the clarified butter as and when needed.
- Keep the blini warm in the oven, and then serve with your favourite toppings.
- My favourite toppings include beetroot-cured salmon, smoked salmon, lumpfish caviar, crème fraiche and fried capers (but not all together!).
- Garnish your toppings with dill fronds or chopped chives for an attractive splash of green.
- If you have made the blini in advance, then store in a sealed container in the fridge. Either serve them at room temperature or warm through first in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Use buckwheat flour instead of strong white flour for a great gluten-free alternative – gluten-free buckwheat blini.