Russian: Bliny (Блины)

Courtesy of Laura Goering

Bliny (stress on the second syllable), or Russian pancakes, are eaten in vast quantities during “Butter Week,” the week leading up to Lent, the longest, strictest fasting period in the Orthodox calendar. A mountain of bliny with sour cream is a fitting emblem of a culture of hospitality that requires the hostess (yes, still almost always a woman) to provide prodigious amounts of food and the guests to oblige by eating with gusto. They feature prominently in the short story “The Silly Frenchman,” by the great Russian writer Anton Chekhov, in which the title character is convinced that the Russian gentleman downing mountains of bliny is trying to commit suicide by overeating. The bliny in this photo were made by Carly Lo ’22 for the final feast in the course “Beyond Beef Stroganoff: Food in Russian Culture.” Enjoy! 

Ingredients

  • 1 c. flour 
  • 1 ½ cup milk 
  • 3 eggs 
  • 1 ½ Tbsp sugar 
  • ½ tsp salt 
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted then cooled 
  • Butter for frying

Directions

Beat the eggs, then whisk in sugar and salt. Whisk in the milk. Add the flour, whisking until smooth and homogeneous.

Let the batter rest for about 20 minutes. Whisk in butter that has been melted but allowed to cool so it is not too hot.

Melt about a tablespoon of butter in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Cast iron is traditional, but any small frying pan will do. Pick up the frying pan in one hand while adding a ladle-full of batter as you rotate the pan to make a thin disc. Fry one at a time, flipping when the first side is lightly brown, about 90 seconds. Cook the other side for about 1 minute, or until done. Add butter to the pan about every 4 bliny or as needed. 

Stack the finished bliny as you make them and keep them warm with a kitchen towel. Makes about 16. Fill with jam, honey, sour cream, or caviar. Fold into a triangle or roll up and eat with your fingers!