I love blinis, but they are slow to fry, so in recent years, I have switched to making oven-baked blini pancakes. This way, you will get the same flavors without the sizzling fat and you can step away from the stove. The blini party becomes even easier with Maku trays that can be used not only for serving, but also for prepping and baking. Get your pancake straight from the oven to the table with a beautiful tray!
Flavors from Finland
As we celebrated the Finnish Culture Day at the end of February, I pondered how I could add a Finnish twist to blinis. Finnish flavors are not as acidic as in Slavic cuisine, from where blinis originated. I softened the sour buckwheat dough with potatoes, the foundation of our cuisine. I whipped the egg whites into a foam, which makes the pancake extra light.
I also associate Finnish cuisine to root vegetables. Swedes, turnips and other offerings of the cold cellar kept people alive when there were no fridges or freezers. Root vegetables are incredibly delicious when you season and cook them well.
Traditionally, honey is poured on top of the blinis, but I served them in a new way. I used a Maku tray to roast root vegetables, which I seasoned with heaps of honey and herbs. I spread the cooled pancake first with smetana and then with decorative strips of honey-roasted root vegetables and pickles. This brought a sweet, salty and rich flavor to every bite.
Blini buffet with trays
I did not put onions and fish on the pancake because there was a vegetarian in our party and our child is hesitant to eat uncooked onions. Instead, I arranged gravlax, roe, onions and more pickles on smaller Maku trays. Those who eat fish could then add anything they wanted from the trays to their piece of pancake, and the table setting was harmonious as all the dishes were matching.
Of course, you can also serve the blini pancake as it is without any toppings. You can brush the freshly baked pancake with melted butter, and the diners can select the toppings to their own taste.
A pancake with toppings, on the other hand, is an easy yet visually impressive dish. You can also cut pickles lengthwise to create patterns, make gravlax roses or freely sprinkle roe on top of the pancake.
Machine wash and stack
It was easy to clean up after the blini party as the stainless steel trays can be washed in the dishwasher. Then, all that there was left to do was to stack and set them aside to await the next blini party.
My 8-year-old says it must be held soon, as the potato pancake and sweet vegetables became a hit. Yet another educative culinary experience for the young! Maybe next time we will dare to try the onion?
Janica Brander / @Savusuolaa
Savusuolaa blogger, author and freelance journalist specializing in restaurants and food.
Janica made us an oven-baked potato blini pancake recipe with a Finnish twist. Check the recipe here.