These light, crispy cornmeal cakes are my all-time favorite pancake. They have an affinity with both savory and sweet accompaniments. For breakfast, they are wonderful with maple syrup or a fruit sauce, along with some panfried country ham. Served as an hors d’oeuvre with sour cream and caviar or smoked fish and a glass of Champagne, they are celestial, the ideal festive snack on New Year’s Eve. If possible, use a good stone-ground cornmeal or polenta meal, available at Italian markets. Using bacon fat instead of butter adds a wonderful down-home flavor.
You can make the blini batter up to 2 hours ahead; cover and refrigerate.
Makes24 blini; serves 6
Total Timeunder 1 hour
OccasionBuffet, Cocktail Party, Family Get-together
Recipe Coursehors d'oeuvre, main course
Taste and Texturecreamy, light, savory, sweet
Type of Dishcanape/crostini
- 1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1¼ teaspoons baking powder, preferably nonaluminum
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Scant ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1½ cups buttermilk, plus more if desired
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons melted unsalted butter or rendered bacon fat
In a medium bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt. In a small bowl, beat together the buttermilk, egg, and 2 teaspoons of the melted butter. Whisk into the cornmeal mixture until very smooth. (For thinner blini, add a tablespoon or two more buttermilk to the batter.)
Heat a large heavy griddle or skillet over moderate heat until a drop of water bounces across the surface. Brush the surface lightly with melted butter.
Drop the batter, 2 tablespoons at a time, onto the surface, leaving enough room for the pancakes to spread (the blini will be about 2 to 3 inches in diameter).
Adjust the heat if necessary to keep butter from burning. Cook the blini until the surface is bubbled and set and the edges of the undersides are brown. Flip the blini and cook until the second side is browned.
Serve the blini as they come off the griddle, or keep them warm, layered in (and covered with) clean tea towels in a low (200°F) oven; just before serving, brush them with a little melted butter. Repeat until all the batter is used, brushing the pan with butter before each batch.
Cornmeal and Wild Rice Cakes.
Use the bacon fat rather than butter. Stir 2/3 cup cooked wild rice, blotted dry on paper towels, into the batter.
Blueberry Cornmeal Cakes.
Add ½ cup blueberries to the batter.
2001 Sally Schneider