Thursday, December 21, 2017

The 9th bite of Christmas is Buttermilk Buckwheat Blini #12BitesOfChristmas

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The 9th bite of Christmas elicits cries of Твоё здоровье! [Tvoyo zdorov'ye!]

Твоё здоровье!

Blini - bite-sized buckwheat buttermilk pancakes - are one of those things that need to be cooked at home, and eaten more or less straight from the frying pan. An amazing alchemy transforms a little flour, milk, egg and not much more into little puffs of air, barely contain within a cake of buckwheat bubbles. Make sure you weigh them down with a decent topping or they might just float away!

So light, they practically levitate - mind they don't float away!!!

Makes about 35 – 45 depending on how big or little you make them.
150ml fresh milk
100mls buttermilk
50g buckwheat flour
50g wholemeal wheat flour
50g strong white flour (bread flour)
1 teaspoon fast action dried yeast
1 teaspoon honey
2 eggs, at room temperature (separated)
½ teaspoon of fine table salt
A little olive oil or butter for cooking

... and whatever topping you decide to adorn them with.

Start the batter a couple of hours before you need it.

These little pancakes can be cooked in advance then reheated in a low oven or in a frying pan.

Heat the fresh milk and buttermilk together in a pan to about 35°C (approximately 95°F) – if you don’t have a thermometer, this is when the milk feels neither hot nor cold if you stick a (clean) finger in to test it.

Next, mix the buckwheat, wholemeal, and strong flours together in a mixing bowl, and add the yeast, stir in the milk and the honey and mix well to combine. Add the egg yolks and salt and again mix to combine. Cover and leave the yeast to perform its alchemy for about an hour or until the mixture has thickened slightly and is surfaced with bubbles.

Whisk the egg whites in a bowl to a soft peak (when you lift the whisk from the bowl, it should draw the mixture into soft mountains that flop over gently at the top). Fold* the whisked egg whites gently into the mixture, until well-combined (*see note at the end of this post). Then heat a little olive oil or butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. When the pan is hot enough, carefully wipe away any excess fat with a wad of kitchen paper, setting it aside to wipe the pan out between batches.

Drop spoonfuls of the batter into the hot pan, adjusting the temperature if necessary to stop them burning. I use a tablespoon, barely filling it to the top of the bowl. Make them larger if you wish.

Clockwise from top left: From raw batter to little pillows of air getting a tan

Once the top of the pancakes are pitted with a rash of burst bubbles, turn them over and continue cooking for a further minute. Once cooked, place on a heat proof dish and keep warm in a gentle oven until ready to serve, or leave to go cold for reheating later.

When ready to serve, slather with a little sour cream or cream cheese, top with a little hot-smoked or cold-smoked fish and some dill/chives/caviar. Or top with whatever you normally put on pancakes – sweet or savoury.

Eat several, reflecting as you chew, that life isn’t half bad.

Твоё здоровье!

*To fold egg white into the mixture first of all stir about one-third of the egg white into the mixture to slacken it a little then taking a spatula or a large metal spoon in your dominant hand, cut through the centre of the batter. Move the spatula or spoon across the bottom of the bowl, and back up the side and across the top bringing some of the mixture from bottom to top. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat. Keep folding the mixture and turning the bowl until the ingredients are incorporated into the batter. Folding avoids overworking the batter keeping it light and airy.

This one's for Santa...

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