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Blini with Caviar and Crème Fraîche

Although blini are best served soon after they are prepared, they can be made up to a week in advance. Let them cool to room temperature, then freeze in an airtight container, placing paper towels between the layers of blini so they will not become soggy. When ready to serve, place the frozen blini on a baking sheet and heat in a 200ºF oven until just warmed through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour (use more whole wheat
      flour if buckwheat is unavailable)
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 4 to 6 oz. caviar
  • 1 pint crème fraîche

Directions:

In a small bowl, make a sponge by combining the whole wheat flour, buckwheat flour, 1 cup of the all-purpose flour, the yeast, sugar and warm water; stir until blended. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, scald the milk by cooking it to just under a boil. Let cool to room temperature and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and salt until light in texture and color, then gradually whisk in the butter until smooth. Stir in the scalded milk, then stir in the remaining 1 cup all-purpose flour until smooth. Fold in the sponge until the batter is smooth. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place to rise, 30 to 40 minutes.

In a large copper or other mixing bowl, using a whisk, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. (When the whisk is lifted out of the bowl and inverted, the whites on the end of the whisk should remain upright, with just a slight bend at the tip.) Using a spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter and let stand for 10 to 12 minutes.

In a large nonstick fry pan or griddle over medium heat, warm just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Using a tablespoon, drop the batter onto the pan (1 Tbs. batter will make a blini 3 inches in diameter). Cook 3 to 5 blini at a time; do not crowd the pan. Cook until golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Fill a large serving bowl with chipped ice, and set the tin of caviar and a dish of crème fraîche on top. Serve the blini alongside.
Makes 50 to 60 blini.
Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.