blini with caviar

A sudden craving last weekend had me searching my cookbook shelf for a recipe for buckwheat pancakes. I don’t know where the urge came from, but I wanted that earthy, rich flavor, preferably smothered in applesauce, for Valentine’s Day breakfast.

It was harder than I thought finding a recipe, but I ran one down in a true American cookery resource, Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook from 1961. This is a book that reads like something from another dimension, including this marvelous bit of advice in the “Hints for the Homemaker” section:

Every morning before breakfast, comb hair, apply makeup and a dash of cologne. Does wonders for your morale and your family’s, too!

My family’s morale is going to have to wait until after breakfast, sorry, Betty. But in any case, the recipes are pretty sound. I halved the recipe for buckwheat pancakes, starting it  the night before as advised, and it turned out beautifully.

Valentine's Day breakfast

I thawed a container of Jonagold applesauce from last fall, and fried up a couple of homemade sausage patties that were left over from the previous week. The pancakes were wonderful, springy and chewy and with plenty of deep buckwheat flavor. They were also great with butter and syrup.

Even after halving the recipe, we couldn’t eat them all by a long shot. Eventually it dawned on us that we had made blini, and blini are made to be eaten with caviar. It was Valentine’s Day, after all…

Valentine's Day snack

So later that day, after a quick run to the store, the pancakes made a reappearance as a romantic appetizer with sour cream and dollops of inexpensive whitefish caviar, with glasses of cava alongside. We felt very fancy. I loved that something as downhome as a buckwheat pancake could be so easily gussied up, and be equally delicious either way.

buckwheat pancakes

Buckwheat Pancakes (Blini)

adapted from Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook (1961 ed.)


  • 1 heaping tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water

Then add:

  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose white flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Stir well, cover and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, pull it out and add:

  • 1 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda, dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water

Stir well and let sit 30 minutes. Cook pancakes in butter – make them small if you intend to serve them as finger food with fancy toppings. Serve hot or cold, with applesauce, syrup, jam, sour cream, smoked salmon, or caviar. But probably not all at once.

blini with caviar

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