These Traditional Russian Crepes (also known as Blini or Russian Pancakes) are delicious to have for breakfast with maple syrup or your favourite jam and yogurt. You can also stuff them with ricotta or make them savoury serving them with smoked salmon or cheese. They are paper-thin and golden. Beautiful and delicious.
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I started Imagelicious almost 10 years ago. I didn’t keep up with it. I posted a recipe here and there, sometimes I added photos, sometimes I apologized for not writing. Back in 2008 food blogging was still new. I could have carved out a place for this blog but I was too lazy.
The first recipe that I ever posted was a recipe for My Mom’s Crepes. I think it’s fitting to finally re-post this childhood favourite to celebrate Mother’s Day. My first Mother’s Day.
Back when A. and I were still dating I kept promising him to make crepes. He wasn’t really impressed with the idea and I couldn’t understand why.
Later, I realized that he thought I’d be making those thicker style crepes that you get at cafes; you get one crepe filled with lots of goodies and can barely finish it. Those crepes are good and yummy but they are nothing like my mom’s crepes, nothing like traditional russian crepes.
Traditional russian crepes or Russian blini or Russian blinchiki or Russian Pancakes are thin and delicate and occasionally lacy. They are cooked in large batches and eaten in stacks of 5-10-15.
I wrote about Thin and Delicate Matcha Green Tea Crepes earlier this year and that post inspired me to go back to the basics and make these Traditional Russian Crepes. The ones from my childhood. The ones that fill my memory with warm smell of melting sugar on a hot crepe and a tang of cold sour cream.
Russian Pancakes or Dutch Pancakes?
After I made my traditional Russian crepes for A. for the first time he was surprised. “These aren’t crepes,” he told me. “They are Dutch Pancakes!” I was surprised in return. It turned out that his dad made crepes like this all the time when A. was little.
Years later, when we were already married my father-in-law gave me a Dutch Cookbook filled with hand-written notes and clarifications. I flipped through it until I found those Dutch Pancakes and had another surprise.
The recipe was ingredient for ingredient, measurement for measurement exactly like my mom’s crepes, traditional Russian crepes. There are hundreds of different crepe recipes in Russia, yet the one that A. and I grew up with turned out to be the same. What are the chances?
Each time I make these Traditional Russian Crepes, I think of my mom. She is the queen of crepes, flipping them expertly in the air with a pan, making dozens of lacy thin pancakes, stuffing them with farmers cheese, chicken, beef, or just simply serving with sour cream and cherry preserves. Try my version of the Crepes filled with Beef and Dill, they are delicious!
How to make Traditional Russian Crepes
Making any kind of traditional Russian Crepes isn’t a quick affair. You need lots of time and patience.
Each crepe takes about 2-3 minutes to cook and this recipe makes 30 crepes. Do some quick math and you realize that it’s about an hour standing next to the stove (don’t make them in the heat of summer!).
TIP: I have two pans that are the same size so I usually make crepes on both thus saving a little bit of time.
- Use non-stick pan. I use this kind. In fact, I have two of these Calphalon pans.
- Make sure that you brush your pan with oil really well. Don’t pour oil, just brush it with a brush.
- Heat the pan on medium heat.
- Take the pan in your non-dominant hand and pour a ladleful of batter with your dominant hand. You need to be able to pour the batter as thinly as possible all around the pan.
- Once you poured the batter, switch the pan to your dominant hand, and very quickly swirl it around to make sure that the batter is spread all over the bottom of the pan.
- If there are holes in the batter, just pick up a teaspoon and quickly fill them with drops of extra batter.
- Cook for about 1.5 minutes until the top part doesn’t look glossy anymore.
- Don’t use a spatula to flip the crepes!
- Use a spatula to pick up the edge of the crepe and then use your fingers to lift it. If the crepe is still pale, then let it cook for another 30 seconds.
- Use your hands to flip the crepe and cook for another 1.5 minute.
How to fix crispy edges on the Traditional Russian Crepes
I always get crispy edges when I make crepes! So, don’t worry if you do to. There’s a very easy trick to fixing that.
Stack all the crepes on top of each other and keep them under a lid while you cook the rest. The lid will make sure that there’s steam and condensation. And it will in turn soften the crispy edges.
There’s a Russian proverb that says: “The first Blini is always a lump.” So, don’t worry if your first couple of crepes don’t work as well as you would hope. You need to find the optimal heat temperature for your stove and your pan. And one of the main things to making thin crepes is figuring out how much batter to pour.
Making crepes requires some finesse. It took me years to be able to make them perfectly. They kept sticking to the pan, breaking or not cooking through. Finally, I decided to stop experimenting with various recipes online and try my mom’s recipe – it worked!
It’s simple but that’s the key, you don’t need anything fancy to make a stack of hot beautiful crepes.
How to eat Traditional Russian Crepes
These Traditional Russian Crepes are delicious to have for breakfast with maple syrup (definitely not the Russian way but super delicious) or your favourite jam and sour cream (Russian way).
Here are some other ways to eat these Russian Crepes:
- Beef and Dill Stuffed Crepes
- Ricotta (or more traditionally Farmers Cheese) Stuffed Crepes
- Serve the crepes with smoked salmon, capers, and cream cheese
- Mushroom stuffed crepes. Check out my post on How to Cook Perfect Mushrooms Every Time
- For a very traditional Russian way, eat the crepes with caviar
These Traditional Russian Crepes or blini are delicious to have for breakfast with maple syrup or your favourite jam and yogurt. You can also stuff them with ricotta or make them savoury serving them with smoked salmon or cheese | Imagelicious
- 4 cups milk
- 2 cups flour
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon canola oil
- pinch of salt
- oil for pan frying (about 1 tablespoon, maybe less)
In a large bowl mix all the ingredients until very smooth and there are no lumps. You could use a blender to do that but I just use a bowl.
Let the batter stand for about 30 minutes.
Brush an 8" pan with a very thin layer of oil and heat on medium until it's quite hot.
Ladle enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan swirling it in one hand to make sure that the batter spreads. It's better to use less batter at first and add drops to fill in the gaps rather than adding too much. You want the crepes to be thin and very delicate in this particular recipe.
Once the bottom of the pan is covered with batter let it cook for about 1.5 minute until edges start to crisp up. With your hands (don't even try to use spatula here) gently lift the crepe to see if it got its characteristic golden appearance. If it's still pale then let it cook for another 30 seconds.
Using your hands flip the crepe over (no need to re-grease the pan here) and let it cook for another 1.5 minutes.
Slide the crepe onto a large plate and cover with a large pan lid. The crepes most likely will have crisp edges and covering them with a lid will make the edges soften.
Lightly brush the pan with oil and repeat again.
I don't use a spatula to flip the crepes. They are too thin and they break. I use my fingers, just remember that the crepes are pretty hot.
I lightly oil the pan between crepes because I like the colour that the crepes get from the oil. If you have a really good non-stick pan and don't care about the colour, then you don't have to grease the pan after each crepe, maybe only every 4-5 crepes.
As I mentioned in the blog post, I use two pans to make two crepes at the same time.
If you use parchment paper between crepes then you can freeze them.
This recipe can easily be halved.
And an old photo from the original post that started this blog just for fun.