Say Hello to Spring (BBB April 2022)

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BBB: Let's Keep Baking summary: It’s spring at last; Mlyntsi (Blini), ancient Slavic recipe (from the Middle Ages) made with buckwheat flour and lots and lots and lots :whee: of butter; this recipe is a keeper; A Cautionary Tale by Anton Chekhov about blini; a Bread Baking Babes (BBB) project; list of some of the international relief agencies addressing the Ukraine crisis

When I chose this recipe, there was only the smallest hint that a megalomaniac would actually go through with his dastardly plan to invade Ukraine. So while blinis are commonly associated with Russia, I like to think of this ancient pancake as Slavic.

Blini are called Mlyntsi in Ukraine.

Bread Baking Babes: Mlyntsi (Blini), April 2022

fully dressed wild blin

Since cancelling our subscriptionin 2015, we have been reading back-issues of SAVEUR magazine – from when SAVEUR was still dedicated to presenting lovely photos and beautifully written, detailed articles. The recipes included often seemed secondary. But not always….

In November 2001 issue, Darra Goldstein wrote about caviar. Amazingly, she did not wax lyrical on blini, aside from simply mentioning them, but she did include her blini recipe. It is a yeasted pancake recipe! It is by no means a secondary item in the article.

Possibly because it’s her book and she wasn’t confined by SAVEUR editors, Darra Goldstein does give a lot of detail about blini in her book “A Taste of Russia”.

blini photo by Michael Grimm

The sturgeon’s glistening “black pearls”, whether spread gently on blini or piled on a piece of toast or eaten straight from a mother-of-pearl spoon — each egg popping delicately, and deliciously, in the mouth — have long been the stuff of legend and love, mystery and romance.
 
– Darra Goldstein, Caviar Dreams, SAVEUR No.54 (November 2001), p.86 (the article includes Darra Goldstein’s recipe for blini, but with some of her instructions missing)
Now an international favorite, blini are one of the oldest Slavic foods, dating back to the heathen tribes that worshipped the sun and created pancakes in its image. These earliest pancakes were called mliny, from the verb molot’ (“to grind”), and the word is still preserved in the Ukrainian, Serbian and Croatian tongues. Light and porous, blini are designed to soak up lots of butter.
 
– Darra Goldstein, Russian Pancakes (Blini), A Taste of Russia, p.102

This winter has been particularly cold and icy. And while the Spring Solstice is now long past – way back on 20 March, and Butter Week (marking the week before the 40 days of Lent) too is so long ago that tomorrow is Easter, it still seems fitting for us to celebrate the promise of warm weather in the northern hemisphere at last – let us not speak of the recent blizzard on the prairies….

If only we could also celebrate the coming of peace in the region where blini are traditionally made!

Here is how things went making this April’s BBB project:

BBB Blini diary:

5 April 2022, 18:39 Kelly just reminded me that it is April! (The decidedly chilly weather last week – complete with snow – really threw me off.)

I thought we had plenty of buckwheat on hand. But no. We were going to buy some today when we rode our bikes (yay!! bike riding at last) past front garden after front garden jammed with beautiful blue and yellow crocusses to get to the butcher’s and super market.

Of course, we forgot! Because buckwheat wasn’t on the list. :stomp:

18:56 I did a haphazard quick search to find out the various Slavic names for blini, and discovered the following:

» Croation: palacinke
» Czech: bliny
» Lithuanian: blynai
» Serbian: palacinke
» Slovak: blinciki
» Ukrainian: mlyntsi

(Apparently these days, the Ukrainian version does not call for yeast. It is also more like a crepe and often rolled around various fillings, often sweet. But I bet middle ages people living in the Ukrainian region used yeast and myriad toppings, both sweet and savoury….)

8 April 2022, 15:25 Yay. We now have buckwheat flour! AND there are snowdrops in the back garden! I didn’t plant them. Did the birds? The squirrels? But who cares? This is the kind of snow I love!

snowdrops

10 April 2022, 22:57 What a day!! With one orchestra, in the afternoon, we played a physically distanced (one person on a stand) concert that included Brahms 1st Symphony. Two people in my section were unable to be there, sending messages early in the morning that they had tested positive for Covid19. Of course, all of us are triple vaxxed. But this latest variant doesn’t seem to care. :stomp:

12 April 2022, 14:56 Today, we rode our bikes to various places (finally, it’s feeling spring-like) to get groceries – including sour cream. We stopped at our favourite fancy fish store a couple of blocks from our house to get smoked salmon. Whaaaaaa?!! The shop was closed! They NEVER close (except on Mondays and holidays). Or rather, according to their sign that we haven’t seen since before last Christmas, it turns out they ALWAYS close on Mondays and Tuesdays.

So much for having blini tomorrow morning. :stomp: :stomp:

13 April 2022, 16:03 Did I say it was feeling springlike? It’s significantly cooler today. But at least we aren’t experiencing the horrendous blizzard that is taking place on the prairies. (Here’s hoping that the blizzard snows itself out and doesn’t move east!!)

We put our scarves and hats on, masked up (even though several foolish people are following the lead of our misguided government officials and have stopped wearing masks) and went to the fish store. It was an altogether happy experience. 100% of the people were masked. We got two pieces of beautiful smoked fish: citrus candied smoked salmon, and smoked Arctic char.

smoked fish for blini

We will have blini tomorrow for early lunch….

I just noticed that the wild recipe I gave everyone makes 12 blini. I’m going to make just a half recipe.

16:30 I’ve just learned that yet another one of my colleagues has Covid. She says that she. feels. terrible. (One of the women who was unable to play the Brahms symphony on Sunday, after testing positive last Thursday, is still ill. So much for having milder symptoms if fully vaxxed….)

14 April 2022, 09:30 I performed an experiment last night when feeding the starter; I used all-purpose flour instead of whole wheat. (I also, as a fail safe, made a second bowl using whole wheat flour. Just in case.) In the past, our whole wheat starter has been a very finicky eater. But this time round, feeding it with all purpose flour worked!! How cool is that?

wild yeast

I had fun mixing the batter for the blini. Ha. I almost had a disaster because I neglected to scrawl down the amount of milk to go in. In fact, I left milk off the ingredients list entirely!

Mercifully, common sense prevailed. The milk is added. Both to the batter and to the scrawled ingredients list.

The most fun I had was beating the egg white: using the copper bowl that hangs on the cookbook shelf, and spring-like whisk from Mum’s house. (Once again, common sense prevailed, when I noticed that both the copper bowl and the whisk had a film of dust on them because they are used so rarely.) It took almost no time at all to get to stiff, not dry peaks. In fact, the most time was spent in cleaning the bowl and whisk. Oh yes, and there was also extra time spent as I waffled around, terrified to break the egg. I was so worried that I would break the yolk at the same time. I NEVER make meringue…. (I actually timed the whisking itself. It took about 10 seconds less than 2 minutes for the white to get to stiff not dry peaks; the whisk did all the work.)

whisking egg white
egg white - stiff but not dry

The most fun I didn’t have was pouring the melted butter into the milk I had just got out of the fridge… to cool the butter. Well. It certainly cooled it: The butter was hard. (Heeheeeheee: come on, sistren of mine, say Grandpa’s reply! Say Grandpa’s reply. I know you want to. :whee: )

With the egg yolk added to the milk/butter as well, I whisked the mess around as best I could, then threw caution to the winds and just added it along with the bubbling all-purpose flour leavener to the dry ingredients and dough whisked it together. Why not? What can go wrong??

12:06 In answer to a question about when to add the baking soda in the wild version of the recipe: I added the baking soda at the same time as the rest of the dry ingredients – in step 2. It seemed to work just fine.

Also, I left the bowl of completely mixed ingredients (covered and in the oven with only the light on because it’s still stupidly cold in our kitchen) for an hour and a half before cooking the blini.

Oh yes. I should also add that cooking the blini was ridiculously easy! J’adore our giant cast iron skillet!

wild blini batter
wild blini

We served these wonderful pancakes for lunch on Thursday, with too much butter (is there such a thing??), sour cream, smoked fish, and capers. Of the two kinds of smoked fish – both of them hot smoked, there was a citrus candied smoked salmon and a regular smoked Arctic char. We tasted a tiny amount of each and both agreed that the salmon was our favourite. By far.

blini toppings

And then. Lunch was served. The blini were fabulous!! This recipe is definitely a keeper.

wild blini

The only things we’d change are get regular smoked Arctic char only (the stunningly beautiful and delicate flavour of the citrus candied salmon was lost entirely!) and, to add some very very thinly sliced half-moons of onion (red onion would be prettiest and sweetest). I’m also kicking myself that I didn’t cut a few of the chives that have JUST emerged. The chives wouldn’t add much flavour, but they’d be pretty.

I was also very excited that my finicky eater of a starter didn’t mind at all to be fed all-purpose flour. We still have some smoked salmon left so plan to have these again soon.

I’m afraid that I won’t be making them with commercial yeast at all. They’re SO good with wild yeast. (But, for those of you who don’t have a wild yeast starter going, and don’t want to wait 5 days, the commercially yeasted recipe is included below.)

They’re SO good that we had them again yesterday. (How’s that for the perfect food for Good Friday? :lalala: ) This time, we did remember to add thinly thinly thinly sliced onion and a few very young chives from the garden. Wow. It doesn’t seem possible but they were even more delicious!

wild blini: fully dressed

Below is the BBB recipe for April. But please use whatever flour(s) and leavener you prefer – wild or commercial yeast.

Wild Mlyntsi (Blini)
commercial yeast | wild yeast | topping suggestions
adapted from Darra Goldstein’s recipe for Blini and Emilie Raffa’s (The Clever Carrot) recipe for Fluffy Sourdough Pancakes

When baking soda merges with the natural acids in the sourdough starter it tenderizes the texture (like buttermilk pancakes). So now you have light, fluffy and tender. […]
[T]he batter should be thick, bubbly and pourable. […] You can actually “hear” it when you drag a spoon through the batter. It should drip down in slow, stretchy ribbons and not just plop into the pan. […] If using the overnight method for thick and fluffy pancakes, add the baking powder and baking soda in the morning (not to the overnight mixture).

Makes six to eight 6-inch round pancakes (This is half the recipe that I gave to the other BBBabes)

LEAVENER

  • 60 grams flour (I used unbleached all-purpose)
  • 60 grams water
  • 1 dessert spoon (about 15 grams) Jane Mason 100% whole wheat starter

DOUGH/BATTER
dry ingredients

  • 62 grams unbleached “no additives” all purpose flour
  • 30 grams buckwheat flour
  • 3 grams sugar
  • 1.5 grams sea salt
  • 2.5 grams baking soda

wet ingredients

  • all of the leavener from above (100% hydration and significantly bubbly – ideally, it should float)
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 120 ml milk
  • 20 grams (1.5 Tbsp) melted unsalted butter, plus more to coat the skillet
  1. Leavener Late in the evening on the day before you will be making wild blini, or: About 12 hours before mixing the batter, mix all-purpose flour, water, and whole-wheat starter from the fridge. Cover with a plate and leave at room temperature, or if the kitchen is cool, in the oven with only the light on.
  2. Dough/Batter In the morning of the day you will be making blini: Combine all the wet – except for the egg whites – and all the dry ingredients. Whisk well, cover with a plate and allow to rest a few moments.
  3. Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold them gently into the batter. Cover the bowl with a plate and allow to rest for 30 minutes to 2 hours (we waited for an hour and a half) before cooking the pancakes. Emilie Raffa writes, “The texture should be thick, bubbly, and pourable. Add extra milk, 1 tbsp at a time, to thin out the texture if needed. Let the batter sit for at least 5 minutes to aerate; it should be nice and bubbly before using.
  4. Cooking Heat a cast-iron pan. Run your fingers under cold water and flick the pan. If the water beads, the pan is at the right temperature. (If it lies there, the pan is too cool; if it disappears immediately in a puff of steam, the pan is too hot.)Brush the pan with butter. Use about 2 tablespoons of the batter for each blin. Darra Goldstein adds: “taking it from the top of the batter each time so that the rest doesn’t fall“. Swirl the pan to make a pancake that is about 5 inches in diameter.
    Cook the blin for just a few minutes, until bubbles appear on the surface, then turn and cook the other side until faintly browned. The blini are best served hot from the pan, but if they must be held, pile them in a deep dish, brushing each one with butter, and cover the top of the dish with a linen towel.
    – Darra Goldstein, Blini

Serve immediately, with whatever toppings you like. To be traditional, just make sure there is lots of butter…. Please scroll down for more ideas.

Mlyntsi (Blini)
commercial yeast | wild yeast | topping suggestions
adapted from Darra Goldstein’s recipe for Blini and Emilie Raffa’s (The Clever Carrot) recipe for Fluffy Sourdough Pancakes

  • 3 grams active dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp (30 grams) water at body temperature
  • 1+1/4 cups (304 grams) milk [OR 70 grams instant milk powder + 300 grams water]
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) sugar
  • 6 Tbsp (23 grams) buckwheat flour
  • 1.5 Tbsp (21 grams) butter
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 2 Tbsp (30 grams) plain 3% yoghurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) salt
  • 3/4 cups (94 grams) all-purpose flour
  • pinch baking soda
  1. In a small bowl, whisk yeast into body temperature water until it is the consistency of cream. Set aside briefly.
  2. In a medium size bowl, whisk together sugar, all but 1/4 cup of milk (or milk powder and water), buckwheat flour. Make sure the mixture is smooth; ie: no lumps. Whisk in the yeast mixture. Cover with a plate and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour. (In our cool kitchen, we use the oven with only the light turned on.)
  3. Melt butter and allow to cool a little before whisking it with the egg yolk and yoghurt. Stir this mixture into the buckwheat mixture, along with the remaining milk, the salt, and all-purpose flour. Again, make sure there are no lumps; you want this mixture to be smooth smooth smooth. Cover the bowl with a plate and allow to rise in a warm place for 2 hours.
  4. Whisk the egg white until stiff but not dry, then fold the fluffy egg white into the batter. Allow the batter to rest for 30 minutes more. If the batter seems thick, carefully add warm milk a very little at a time. Emilie Raffa says that “The texture should be thick, bubbly, and pourable“.
  5. Heat a cast-iron pan. Run your fingers under cold water and flick the pan. If the water beads, the pan is at the right temperature. (If it lies there, the pan is too cool; if it disappears immediately in a puff of steam, the pan is too hot.)Brush the pan with butter. Use about 2 tablespoons of the batter for each blin. Darra Goldstein adds: “taking it from the top of the batter each time so that the rest doesn’t fall“. Swirl the pan to make a pancake that is about 5 inches in diameter.
    Cook the blin for just a few minutes, until bubbles appear on the surface, then turn and cook the other side until faintly browned. The blini are best served hot from the pan, but if they must be held, pile them in a deep dish, brushing each one with butter, and cover the top of the dish with a linen towel.
    – Darra Goldstein

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
As for what to serve blini with (we served ours with butter, smoked salmon, sour cream, and capers), it seems to be just about anything you want in order to celebrate the end of winter and the coming of the growing season. The richer, the better….

Traditionally, one is expected to gorge on blini. Literary and actual precedents are numerous in Russian life: Gogol’s Chichikov of Dead Souls finishes off nine of the pancakes while visiting the widow Korobochka, dipping them repeatedly in melted butter and gobbling them down three at a time, while the downfall of the nineteenth–century gourmand Lyapin was in the two dozen blini he once consumed before dinner.
 
– Darra Goldstein, Russian Pancakes (Blini), A Taste of Russia, p.102
Some variations in blini include:
 
• Adding ingredients to the blini batter, including apple, raisins, or even grated potato. Such types of blini are more common in Eastern Europe than in Russia,
• Blini served with butter, sour cream, fruit preserve (varenie), jam, honey, or caviar,
• Blini folded or rolled into a tube, then filled with different fillings like jam, fruit, minced meat, chicken, salmon, boiled eggs, or mushrooms,
• Blini made by frying chopped vegetables and pouring the batter over them.
 
– Chefin Dictionary | Blini

Please scroll down to Anton Chekhov’s wonderful short story (very short story) about blini for his ideas for what toppings to serve.

Notes:

:: Measuring units: It’s significantly easier to measure ingredients by weight – less clean up and less frantic rummaging through drawers and cupboards in search of cups and spoons. A digital scale is ideal, but a spring scale also works. If you do not have a scale, please look at this excellent online resource from Gourmet Sleuth: Cooking Conversions Calculator
There are so many variables present every time you begin a recipe: the heat of the kitchen, the ingredients, the calibration of your oven, to name just a few. Weighing rather than measuring by volume is a simple way of eliminating one big variable. […] When you measure by volume, the weight of an ingredient can differ each time. Once you get a scale, you can see for yourself how wide a range of weights a cup of flour can be, depending on how it is spooned or scooped or packed; it can vary in volume by as much as 50 percent depending on who’s doing the measuring, how the flour was stored and measured, and the humidity. […] Another example is salt — different salts are not equal in weight when measured by volume. A tablespoon of Diamond Crystal kosher salt (used in these recipes), for example, weighs only 60 percent of what a tablespoon of Morton kosher salt weighs.
 
– Susie Heller and Amy Vogler, ‘Throw Out Your Measuring Cups’, Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel

:: Salt: As seen from above, there’s a very good reason to weigh the salt, rather than use volume measures. According to Jennifer L Duque (RevelKitchen), one teaspoon of table salt weighs 6 grams, but depending on the brand, one teaspoon of Kosher salt weighs 3, 3.5, or 4 grams. One teaspoon of salt flakes (depending on the size of the flakes) weight 2.5 grams.
Salt has such a profound impact on heightening the flavor of food and does so in droves before ever tasting too salty. It is the most basic and most humbling seasoning — it enhances rather than adds additional flavors to foods, but its misapplication can easily bite any of us, from the most novice cook to world-renowned Top Chef Masters competitors. Salt can take the form of tiny grains, hefty crumbs, thin crystalline flakes, and many other shapes and densities. […] After using the same salt for a while, we acquire a sense for how salty these rudimentary measures will make food taste and can go along our merry way without fussing with measuring spoons. Switch up the salt, however, and you can get vastly different results.
 
– Jennifer L Duque, Revel Kitchen | How “salt” can be the kiss of life (or death) in cooking

For more raving about this, please see Salt is salt, right?

:: sifting: Ever since early in the pandemic, when I had difficulty opening a bag of flour we managed to get (too much glue had been used to seal the bag; it had hardened and some shards of hardened glue dropped into the flour bag), I always sift all-purpose flour. Always. In the last week or so, every time I sifted all-purpose flour (using a sieve), there were two or three shards of unknown substance that might have been cardboard, or dried flour, or dried glue. Needless to say, those shards went directly into the compost bin.

Sifting is mandatory, even for self-rising flour. The sifting will catch any impurities in the flour, and mass-milled flour will have some mysterious specks here and there.
     “I sift all my flour,” [Momma] said. “Some people don’t, and I eat their bread, but I don’t really want to. You know, I just do it to be polite.”
 
– Rick Bragg, The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table, chapter 1 “Them Shadows Get to Dancin'”, Butter Rolls

:: starter (aka culture): Our starter is a 100% hydration, liquid levain. It takes about 5 days to create. (Please see our take on Jane Mason’s Natural Starter made with Wheat Flour.) Of course, if you don’t have a wild starter going, you can always use the recipe that calls for commercial yeast. You can also convert any recipe. Please see the following for how: converting recipe for wild yeast to one with domestic yeast (and vice versa)

:: leavener and the float test: In the summer, our leavener can be quite active. We find that with the extra warmth in the kitchen, dough made with it tends to rise very quickly. Therefore, we feed it late at night and again in the morning.

wild starter floating

Many people state categorically that the float test is unreliable, useless, and/or “bogus”. I have been tricked when merely looking at our starter – it appears to have doubled and be quite aerated. But it does NOT float. I feed it with a small amount of flour and check it a half hour or so later. The starter then has a slightly domed shape and DOES pass the float test, indicating that it is at its peak.

Sure, for pancakes, it’s probably not absolutely necessary to check for floating. These pancakes will still become pancakes because of the baking soda and egg. But really, it’s not that hard to do the float test. So why not just do it, for peace of mind?

Here are three reasons that I am a diehard float tester:
1.)
[It] might be the case that your starter is rising, but you’re not there to see it. If you feed at night, it might be rising up while you’re asleep, and by morning it has fallen again, so it looks the same.
 
– Donna Currie, Serious Eats
| Sourdough Starter Frequently Asked Questions

2.)
The best time to mix your starter into your dough is when it’s achieved its maximum rise and is just starting to fall, because that’s when the yeast activity is going to be at its maximum.
 
– the Regular Chef, YouTube: 5 Ways To Get A Better Oven Spring | Sourdough Bread Tips
3.)
The most reliable indication that your leaven is ready is if it floats in water, a result of the carbon dioxide gas produced by wild yeast activity. To test the readiness of your leaven, drop a spoonful of it into a bowl of moderate room-temperature water. If it sinks, it is not ready to use and needs more time to ferment and ripen. You can expedite the fermentation by putting the leaven in a warm place and checking again after half an hour. Or you can [feed] the leaven […] [to give] it fresh resources to ferment and ripen. Let the new mixture ferment until it passes the float test.
 
– Chad Robertson, Tartine Bread, p45-47

I am in complete awe of all the intuitive sourdough bakers out there who are producing brilliant bread after brilliant bread without doing the float test. But for me, it is an important step to ensure that our bread rises rather than becoming a doorstop destined for immediately becoming bread crumbs. Or worse, compost.

:: egg whites, stiff not dry: We love our copper bowl that we got at a lawn sale. The bowl and the whisk have to be completely clean – no oil and/or bits of egg yolk. We have many whisks, but the spring-like one from Mum’s house is absolutely the best. It took about 10 seconds less than 2 minutes to get the egg white to “stiff not dry”. But I rarely make meringue, macarons, or royal icing; I had to search to learn exactly what “Whisk the egg white until stiff but not dry” means:

Umami Days: Egg Whites Stiff Peaks

If the tip of the peak stands up straight and does not bend, your egg whites have reached the stiff peak stage. If the recipe calls for stiff but not dry peaks, inspect the surface of the egg whites in the bowl. The surface should still appear glossy.
 
– Connie Veneracion, Umami Days | Beating egg whites: frothy to stiff peaks, illustrated

Thank goodness for the internet!

:: frying pan: We have 3 cast-iron frying pans: small, large, and giant. The small one is perfect for omelettes. The large one is perfect for large omelettes. The giant sized one is perfect for everything, including blini. (We contemplated using our rectangular cast-iron skillet but we still haven’t figured out exactly what heat settings are correct on our “new to us” stove.) I was also thinking that this batter would be perfect in our cast-iron stove-top waffle iron. But whichever cast-iron pan we use, we follow Darra Goldstein’s advice and wash it with water only, and dry it immediately. That way the patina stays.

To ensure perfect blini, Russian cooks use a special pan. Once seasoned, this pan is never washed, just wiped out with salt. […] But a good cast-iron frying pan will work just as well. Simply be sure to add more butter to the pan after each blin so that the next one won’t stick. […] If, however, the first blin you make turns out badly, don’t despair. The Russians have a saying for this (as for every) eventuality: “Pervyi blin komom” – “The first blin’s a lump.”
 
– Darra Goldstein, Russian Pancakes (Blini), A Taste of Russia, p.102

(Lump, schmump! All our blins turned out perfectly.)

 

wild blin

A Cautionary Tale by Anton Chekhov
 
Court Counsellor Semyon Petrovich Podtikin sat down at the table, spread a napkin across his chest, and, quivering with impatience, awaiting the moment the blini would appear… Before him, as before a general surveying a battlefield, a vista unfolded… rank upon rank of slender bottles, from the middle of the middle of the table right up to the front line — three types of vodka, Kiev brandy, Château La Rose, Rhine wine, and even a pot-bellied flask of priestly Benedictine. Crowding around the liquors in artful disarray were platters of sprats, herrings with mustard sauce, sour cream, granular caviar (at three rubles forty kopecks a pound), fresh salmon, and so on. Salivating, Podtikin greedily ran his eyes over the food… His eyes melted like butter; his face oozed with lust…
 
“What can possibly take so long?” turning to his wife and frowning. “Hurry up, Katya!”
 
But then, finally, the cook arrived with the blini… At the risk of burning his fingers, Semyon Petrovich grabbed two of the hottest blini from the top of the pile and slapped them onto his plate with gusto. The blini were crisp, lacy, and as plump as the shoulders of a merchant’s daughter… Podtikin smiled gratefully, hiccupped rapturously, and doused them in hot butter. Then, as if to tease his appetite, luxuriating in anticipation, he slowly, deliberately heaped them with caviar. He slathered sour cream over the places the caviar left bare… All that was left was to eat, right? But, no!.. Looking at his handiwork, Podtikin was not quite satisfied… After contemplating, he topped the blini with the fattiest piece of salmon he could find, a sprat and a sardine; then, breathless and trembling with delight, he rolled up the two blini, downed a shot of vodka, smacked his lips, opened his mouth…
 
But then he was struck down in an apoplectic fit.
 
– Anton Chekhov, On Moral Instability (Butter Week: Lecture Topic);
 
English translation adapted with the help of Google Translate from the English translation “On Mortality: A Carnival Tale” by Peter Constantine, and Polya’s ON HUMAN FRAILTY (An object lesson for butter week)
 
(The 19th century term for “an apoplexy” used in the final line of the Chekhov’s story turns out to be “a stroke”. …I had to look it up.)

Apoplexy is a sudden and often fatal fit resulting from blood vessels bursting in the brain. […] Today, we generally call it “a stroke,” but apoplexy sounds way better.
 
– Vocabulary.com | apoplexy

Bread Baking Babes BBB: Let's Keep Baking

As you know, I am hosting April 2022’s Bread Baking Babes’ project.

And we know you need to make mylintsi (blini) too! To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site, post about your greetings to Spring adventure in the next couple of weeks (we love to see how your project turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 April 2022.

Here’s how to let us know:

  • email me
    » Remember to include your name and a link to your post
    » Please type “BBB April 2022” in the subject heading

Please note that it’s not enough to post about your BBB project in the Facebook group. Because of the ephemeral nature of Facebook’s posts, your FB post may be lost in the shuffle. Please email if you want to be included.

If you don’t have a blog or flickr-like account, no problem; we still want to see and hear about your bread! Please email me with the details, so your mlyntsi (blini) can be included in the roundup too.

For complete details about this month’s project, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ April 2022 blini.

 

wild blin
So. Good.

[Momma] does not own a mixer or a blender. There is a forty-year-old lopsided sifter for her flour, and a hand-cranked can opener. She mixes with a bent fork and a big spoon, smelted, I believe, during the Spanish-american War. […] Her knives, most of them, are as old as she is, the wood handles worn to splinters, the blades razor-sharp and black with age. She had to dig her nine-inch iron skillet, [forged before the First Great War,] her prized possession, from the ashes of her burnt-down house, in 1993. Well-meaning reltives offered to get her a new iron skillet, but she said she would have to season a new one to get it to cook right, and that could take the rest of her life. She would just keep the old one, thank you very much. How do you hurt a skillet, anyway, in a fire?
 
Do not, no matter how health-conscious you are lubricate your skillet with cooking spray, and shame on you for thinking about it.
 
– Rick Bragg, Prologue, and Chapter 2: “Salt is Good”, The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table

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6 responses to “Say Hello to Spring (BBB April 2022)

  1. Cathy (Bread Experience)

    Thanks for the challenge Elizabeth! This was fun!

    edit 17 April 2022, 07:29: I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Cathy. It was fun, wasn’t it? And it’s no wonder that this recipe has lasted since the Middle Ages. It’s so so good, isn’t it? – Elizabeth

    Reply
  2. Karen (Karen's Kitchen Stories)

    There’s no such thing as too much butter! Thanks for the great adventure and education!

    edit 17 April 2022, 07:31: Of course, you’re right, Karen. More butter can only be a good thing. – Elizabeth

    Reply
  3. Judy (Judy's Gross Eats)

    My gosh! That’s the whisk I use for bechamel sauce, and that I’ve had and used since 1964! For the one egg white, I just used my regular whisk instead of my balloon whisk. Ditto for the copper bowl. It was still fun to do by hand, though.

    edit 17 April 2022, 07:36: Since 1964! I don’t remember when Mum got the whisk we have in our kitchen now. I don’t remember ever seeing her use it either. She always used a regular whisk or the hand crank egg beater than clacked as it was doing not even close to the best job of beating eggs. (She didn’t even have a balloon whisk.)
     
    We’re supposed to whisk bechamel sauce? I did not know that. I’ve always just used a wooden spoon. Does the whisk make the bechamel more velvety? Next time I’ll try with the spring whisk.
     
    – Elizabeth

    Reply
  4. Katie Zeller (Thyme for Cooking)

    Love the blini – and really love the smoked fish. Fantastic lunch.
    Scary that you have colleagues testing positive. – triple vaxed! We’re still wearing masks as are most people even tho we are no longer required.

    edit 17 April 2022, 18:42: It was a really fantastic lunch. It’s definitely a keeper, although… can our pocket books handle getting more smoked fish? We might have to take out a mortgage. ;-)
     
    The clearly easy transmission of COVID is indeed scary, and this latest variant of Omicron is clearly quite transmissible. My colleagues have been wearing masks, but both have also been taking public transit, where masks are still required. But I don’t know how carefully this is being monitored. We’re definitely still wearing masks, but many many people are not because it is no longer required. (They ended the mask mandate directly after spring break, at the moment that children went back to school. And just as BA.2 was becoming the dominant strain. We have such clever politicians….)
     
    – Elizabeth

    Reply
  5. Patricia

    oooh, buckwheat mylintsi! I’ll see how it works with buckwheat sourdough. And because I also have to make it dairy free, I’ll have to prove it IS harder when there’s no butter.

    edit 18 April 2022, 18:11: I can’t wait to hear the report! Are you going to smoke the salmon yourself, Patricia? (I just did a search and see that there is a recipe for vegan “sour cream” made with cashews. That might work!) – Elizabeth

    Reply

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