Nina Laptev: Blini
Interview by Tatyana Leonov
I grew up in Shenyang in China. My mother was very good at making blini, but I never paid attention because, like many young girls, I thought I was going to become a princess! When I got married, we moved to Australia and I learned to cook from my mother-in-law.
I tweaked her recipe in a few ways: for example, instead of oiling the pan between every blin, I add butter to the batter itself and oil the pan only when necessary, so the blini are not as greasy. When I’m making blini for large groups, I cook one side of the blin only in the blini pan, and then the other in an electric frying pan. Once my daughter-in-law and I made nearly 1000 blini for a Russian gathering during Maslenitsa week (the week before Russian Orthodox Lent).
Everybody loves blini and we eat them with anything except meat in the week leading up to Lent – honey, jam, salmon, herring, caviar and sour cream. It reminds me of being a young girl in China.
Dissolve 7g dried yeast in 250ml lukewarm water and set aside for 10 minutes or until bubbling. add 55g (1⁄4 cup) caster sugar, 1⁄4 tsp salt and 3 eggs to yeast mixture, and whisk until well combined. Whisking continuously, gradually add 500g (31⁄3 cups) plain flour until the consistency of thick porridge. Melt 60g unsalted butter and whisk into batter. Cover with plastic wrap and stand for 1 hour or until almost doubled in size. Bring 500ml milk almost to the boil, then gradually add to batter, whisking continuously until smooth. stand for 1 hour or until almost doubled in size. Heat a greased 10cm blini or crêpe pan over medium heat. Using 1⁄4 cup batter for each blin, cook for 2 minutes or until bubbles appear on surface, then burst. turn blin over and cook for a further minute or until golden and risen. Makes 40 blini.
Note: to avoid the batter losing air, place your ladle or measuring jug into the batter carefully and skim from the top rather than the bottom of the bowl. Do not leave the ladle or jug in the batter while cooking the blini.