Pancakes is a staple food of Russian cuisine and there is no dish more popular than pancakes on the Russian table. It seems that you can find nothing delicious in a fried piece of batter. But the person, who has ever tasted Russian bliny (pancakes) with tantalizing aroma, will never say it.
In the old days Bliny came in handy traditionally in different situations: a pancake was given to a woman in childbirth and it was a ritual funeral repast.
Many interesting pancake traditions were in existence long time ago. First of all, bliny (pancakes) were a must for Shrovetide (Maslenitsa), the most cheerful holiday of Slavic people. By the legend, Maslenitsa was a daughter, a small fragile girl, of the Father Frost and lived in the North. Once a man found her in snowdrifts and wanted to make her warm and gay. But suddenly Maslenitsa turned into a robust woman “baba” with pink cheeks, cunning eyes and sonorous laughter. She made the man forget about winter, warmed up his frozen blood and started dancing.
Shrovetide was considered merry, wild and wide and celebrated during a week. Every day had its name.Every housewife tried to do her best to treat her family and relatives first-rate. The main course was, of course, bliny (pancakes). The woman had, by Orthodox traditions, to give first pancakes to poor beggars.On Wednesday (this day was called “Gourmand”), mothers-in-law invited their sons-in-law with the wives for “bliny”. On Friday, the sons-in-law, in their turn, gave a treat with bliny to the mothers-in-law. Young couples invited parents to preach at them, and the invitation was the honor and trust for the parents. In the case a son-in-law ignores the tradition, he unleashed eternal war between him and his mother-in-law. The most curious thing was that it was the mother-in-law who brought all the necessary equipment for baking pancakes overnight: pans, a ladle and even a kneading trough. The father-in-law sent flour and butter.
Bliny were baked from leavened batter, but flour was different: buckwheat, wheat, millet, barley, and pea. True Russian bliny were made from buckwheat flour that gave them lightness and fluff, they had pleasant slightly sour taste.
To bake pancakes is not hard. But there are some things that should be known.True pancakes are made only from leavened batter. Firstly, it is necessary to make leaven. In old days, the leaven was made near the river or the well in the late evening. Other housewives made the leaven from melted snow under the moonlight. If someone wants to try, the romance of a cold winter evening is guaranteed.
The yeast is usually dissolved in warm water or milk, and then half of flour is stirred in. Water makes pancakes fluffier and milk – tastier. It is better to make leaven in a wooden or enamel bowl. Leave it until it doubles its size. After that add all the ingredients and knead the batter and leave it in a warm place to double the size.Fry bliny in an ideally clean cast-iron pan of an average size, as a Russian pancake is in the size of a saucer. Pour the batter in a pan with a wooden ladle. Before pouring the batter, grease the pan with a piece of butter evenly. When a pancake is light golden with small holes, turn it over. Bliny are put in a heap where each is brushed with butter.
Bliny can be served as a main dish and as a dessert. For the main course, bliny are served with herring, sprats, sour cream, salmon, and sardines. As a dessert, bliny were served with honey, sour cream, milk, butter, jams and cheese. Bliny must be eaten slowly, enjoying the smell and the taste of every bite. Bliny demand respect and special attitude.
So, let’s revive forgotten traditions, bake a heap of pancakes and invite friends for the pancake holiday!