Delia Smith's Winter Collection
FEBRUARY 11 2012


Blini, blini, blini. They just look so cute and innocent sitting there. As if they were no trouble at all to make. Well, don't let their crispy edges and adorable miniature size fool you. These babies really make you work for every bite.

I am not much of a pancake eater, so maybe this is normal. But the dough for these little guys demanded warmed milk, stiffly whipped eggs and two hour-long rising times. I mean really! Then, they must be fried quickly and in lots of butter, which became a bit of a juggling act on my part. They did turn out quite lovely, though...

Once the flours, yeast and warm milk/crème fraîche have had an hour (or 1-1/2 hours in my case) to get to know each other, it's time to fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites. I wasn't sure I could identify when the whites were properly beaten, but it turns out it wasn't too difficult.

beaten into submission

folding in stiffly whipped egg whites

proofed and ready to go

This mix got another hour's rest before it was time to fry them up. I had already decided to make them in the canapes size which means frying them, one teaspoon at a time, for only 15 seconds on each side. It immediately became clear that I could only do four at a time otherwise the first one would overcook before I finished spooning out the fifth. Quite a race against time.

crisp fried blini

Well, this just about took forever, but finally I had all the batter fried into little, crispy rounds. Luckily, the recipe is intended to be made ahead so I packaged them up in little bundles to be re-heated later at the party.

Just warm in the oven then top each with smoked salmon, crème fraîche and a dill sprig for a very nice appetizer. Yum!


Homemade blinis (fluffy yeast pancakes) are very easy to make, cheaper than buying them, and oh so much nicer when homemade.

Serves 6

1½ oz buckwheat flour
4½ oz strong white plain flour
3/4 level teaspoon salt
5 g easy-blend dried yeast
5 fl oz crème fraîche
6 fl oz whole milk
2 medium eggs, separated
1oz  butter

For the topping:
11½ oz smoked salmon
8 oz crème fraîche
A few dill sprigs


Begin by sifting the buckwheat flour, plain flour and salt together into a large roomy bowl and then sprinkle in the yeast. Place the crème fraîche and milk in a small saucepan and warm it gently – it must only be slightly warm, as too much heat will kill the yeast. Next add the egg yolks to the milk, mix them in with a whisk and after that pour the whole lot into the flour mixture.

Whisk everything until you have a thick batter, then cover the bowl with a clean tea cloth and leave it in a warm place for about 1 hour – this can simply be a matter of placing the bowl in another larger bowl filled with warm water. After 1 hour the batter will be spongy and bubbly, now you whisk up the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and gently fold them into the batter. Cover with the cloth again and leave as before for another hour.

When you're ready to make the blinis, begin by melting the butter in a heavy-based frying pan, then tip the melted butter out into a cup and use it with the help of a tightly rolled wodge of kitchen paper to brush the pan all over as you make each blini. To do this, keep the pan on a medium heat and add 1½ tablespoons of batter – (1 tablespoon goes in first, then another ½ tablespoon on top) – it won't spread out much and the underneath sets as soon as it touches the pan. This amount should give you a blini about 4 inches in diameter. Don't worry at this stage if it looks too thick, it isn't, it's just light and puffy. After 40 seconds, no longer, flip the blini over and give it just 30 seconds on the other side. Transfer it to a wire cooling-rack and repeat, brushing the pan with butter each time. This mixture should give you 18-20 blinis.

When all the blinis are made and have cooled, wrap them in foil parcels, with 6 laid out flat in each one. To serve, pre-heat the oven to 275°F and place the foil parcels on a high shelf for 10 minutes. Serve the blinis on warm plates, giving each person 2 to start with, and top with slices of smoked salmon, about 2 oz per person, add a tablespoon of very cold crème fraîche on the side of the plate and garnish with sprigs of fresh dill.

NOTE: Any unused blinis can be warmed and served for breakfast or tea with honey or jam. They also freeze very well if left in the foil parcels and can be re-heated in the oven, as above, after defrosting. If you want to serve blini canapes, these are made in the same way with teaspoonfuls of the mixture. Cook them for about 15 seconds on each side. Then re-heat, as above, and top with smoked salmon, crème fraîche and dill.

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection.

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