I tend to hunker down on New Year’s Eve, eschewing parties for my own home. Even when I was young, the prospect of sleeping on someone else’s floor or braving the night bus home in the early hours of the morning didn’t really appeal. But sometimes I worry that that can lead to the night being a damp squib. The way to fix this is a little bit of luxury. Perfect bite size tastes of luxury. And for me, that means blini topped with the fanciest, most delicious morsels I can lay my hands on. Drink them with something cold and sparkly, and you won’t regret staying in for one moment.
If you are more sociable than I am, these also make the most impressive party snacks – and ones that suggest far more preparation and skill than they actually require. For the minimal effort (and much more acceptable price tag), fresh blinis are worth your time. Puffed and soft inside, crisp and salty from the butter on the outside, they are a world away from the sad, rubbery ones you often find in the shops. You can make the batter in advance and leave it to rest, and then cook them when you’re ready so that they’re fresh, and just a little warm.
Blini are Russian pancakes. Sometimes they are made with buckwheat, and they can be yeasted or leavened with a raising agent. Here I’ve used self-raising flour, simply because it’s quicker and more stable. And if there’s an easy option that still tastes great, you better believe I’m going to take it around this time of year.
These are perfect little pancakes that you can pile all sorts of delights on. Serve with crème fraîche or soured cream and smoked salmon, salmon roe, or, if you’re feeling really fancy, caviar. If you’re feel so inclined, you could even cure your own salmon.
Makes: 24 blini
Takes: 5 minutes
Bakes: 10 minutes
150g self-raising flour
200ml whole milk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
30g salted butter, for frying
1. Whisk together all the ingredients apart from the butter until the batter is smooth. It should be the texture of double cream.
2. Heat a large frying pan to a medium heat. Add a small piece of butter and let it melt, swishing it around. Spoon tablespoons of batter into the pan and cook for a couple of minutes. They are ready to flip when you can see bubbles on the uncooked side and they move easily on the bottom of the pan. Cook for another two minutes on the other side of the pan.
3. You may find during your first batch that your heat isn’t quite right, that the blini are catching and browning too quickly, or are staying pallid. Adjust accordingly and continue with the rest of the batter. As the butter browns, you can wipe it out carefully with kitchen paper and add a new knob of butter and continue as before.