Blini with Gravlax and Dilled Sour Cream

Topped with a dollop of crème fraiche or sour cream and twist of gravlax or a bit of caviar these little Russian pancakes make a tasty, gluten-free hors d’œuvres. I make them with a combination of dark buckwheat flour—the kind most often found in the supermarket—and white buckwheat flour from Bouchard Family Farms in Maine. The latter is available throughout New England and in parts of upstate New York; otherwise you may have to order it online. You could use regular all-purpose flour but, of course, the blini would no longer be gluten-free. Feel free to experiment with other flour mixtures; pancakes are pretty forgiving. Most recipes call for whole milk and melted butter. I used a mixture of skim milk and heavy cream because that is what I had on hand. It worked just fine. One thing that distinguishes blini from similar hotcakes is that they are leaved with yeast. That makes the batter very sticky so be prepared for a bit of mess when you cook them! Serve the blini hot or at room temperature.

Makes about 3 dozen


  • 1 cup skim milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast, about 2¼ tsp.
  • ½ cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup white buckwheat flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • Butter for cooking


Mix the milk and cream in a bowl then warm to about 110°, about 45 seconds in a microwave. Stir in the sugar and the yeast. Set aside in a warm place to proof for about 10 minutes.

Warm a large glass or earthenware bowl with hot water then dry and add the dry ingredients. Lightly beat the egg yolks reserving the whites. Pour the yeast mixture and egg yolks into the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. (If you use wheat flour, minimize the whisking so as not to develop the gluten and make the pancakes tough.) Cover the bowl with a towel and let the batter rise in a warm place for 1½ to 2 hours.

Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into the batter. Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium-high heat. Brush with melted butter and dish on 1 Tbsp. of batter per blin (a #60 disher scoop would make this much easier than using a spoon as I did). Depending on the thickness of the batter the pancakes will be between 2 and 3 inches in diameter.  Cook for about 30 seconds or until bubbles start to form then flip with a spatula and cook another 30 seconds.

Finished blini can be wrapped and stored overnight in the refrigerator. Warm to room temperature before serving.


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