My best pancake recipes come from my Russian grandmother’s kitchen and include pancake recipes for blini (pancakes) such as potato pancakes, buckwheat pancakes, ricotta pancakes, and more that my baboushka made me when I was a child. Forget the store-bought pancake mixes and make these healthy pancake recipes instead.
My best pancake recipes make the pancakes that my baboushka made when she wanted to spoil her children and grandchildren. The type of pancake that baba and mum mostly made was the thin French crêpe-style pancakes that we simply called blini (pancakes) – ‘blini’ is the plural of pancakes in Russian and ‘blin’ is the singular or pancake – but there are so many other types of pancakes.
Our best pancakes recipes include recipes for the buckwheat pancakes that make the blini that typically come with smoked salmon, smetana (sour cream) and caviar; potato pancakes that are somewhere between a pikelet and potato fritter; and ricotta pancakes, which would go on to become synonymous with Australian café culture in the 1980s and 90s.
Slavic peoples and those of Slavic heritage love their pancakes and there are countless kinds of pancakes cooked in Russia, Ukraine and the many other Slavic countries that have traditionally kicked off celebrations for Pancake Week or Maslenitsa tonight.
I remember reading in a newspaper last year that at one Maslenitsa event, pancake cooks were serving up over 200 types of pancakes, everything from syrniki, cottage cheese pancakes made with tvorog or farmer’s cheese, to oladyi, small, thick, fluffy pancakes made with kefir.
This Maslenitsa I’m sure the Ukrainian people will be in the hearts of Slavic peoples around the world. I know they are in mine.
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Now let me tell you about my best pancake recipes.
Best Pancake Recipes from My Baboushka’s Kitchen for Potato Pancakes, Buckwheat Pancakes, Ricotta Pancakes and More
Our best pancake recipes include the Russian pancakes of my childhood. Pancakes weren’t eaten every day at my Russian grandparents’ home. When I stayed during school holidays as a child or visited for a weekend when I was at university, my baboushka would typically make me an omelette, scrambled eggs or porridge for breakfast. Baba made pancakes or blini when she wanted to spoil me or on special days.
Just a quick tip to making our best pancake recipes, which apply to all the recipes for pancakes below. Call me old-fashioned, but I like my pancakes to look home-made and rustic, and am happy just to spoon the pancake mixture directly into a fry pan or skillet.
Best Pancake Recipes – Potato Pancakes, Buckwheat Pancakes, Ricotta Pancakes, Russian Blini and More
Russian Blini in the Style of French Crêpes
Blini simply means pancakes in Russian although outside of Russia, blini is typically associated with the smaller pikelet-style pancakes below. Our best Russian pancakes recipe makes blini in the style of French crêpes if you’re looking for a quick and easy pancake recipe. My Russian grandmother made these sweet, thin, buttery pancakes for me for breakfast with butter, jam and sour cream, however, they can also be served as savoury blini with smoked salmon, fresh dill, gherkins, and sour cream. My mum also made these for us as kids but in the style of French crêpes, with all sorts of savoury fillings of the kind you’d find at a crêperie in France. This recipe makes a batch of 10-12, however, baboushka would make a towering stack of several dozen. She never did things by halves!
Buckwheat Pancakes Recipe for Blini with Smoked Salmon, Dill and Sour Cream
This Russian buckwheat pancakes recipe makes the blini with smoked salmon, dill, sour cream, and caviar that people typically think of when they think of blini. Instead of proper caviar, I’ve made a ‘caviar’ of gherkin and radish. These are blini for those of us currently on a Prosecco rather than a Champagne budget! More like pikelets than pancakes, these cocktail size blini are perfect for snacking and entertaining, and make a fun brunch snack or fantastic finger food. And while this is a savoury topping you could also spread these little pancakes with jam and cream.
Ricotta Cheese Pancakes Recipe for Syrniki or Farmer’s Cheese Pancakes
My Russian ricotta cheese pancakes recipe makes syrniki or farmer’s cheese pancakes. Crunchy outside and fluffy within, these scrummy Russian pancakes are traditionally made with tvorog or farmer’s cheese. ‘Syr’ means cheese and syrniki have traditionally been made with a beloved Russian curd cheese called tvorog or farmer’s cheese. My baboushka translated it to English as ‘cream cheese’ when I was a child growing up in the western suburbs of Sydney. But in the Russian diaspora you’ll also find ricotta, cottage cheese, quark, and/or cream cheese used. Or in fact, any combination of all those white cheeses. All hard to find here, I’ve long made syrniki with ricotta and they’re just as delicious. Serve piping hot with sour cream, jams or stewed or fresh fruit.
Potato Pancakes Recipe for Draniki or Deruny
This potato pancakes recipe draniki (in Russian) or deruny (in Ukrainian) is another of our best pancake recipes. This potato pancakes recipe is super easy and versatile. Finely grate the potato and onion and use more rather than less flour for a light pancake similar in texture to a pikelet or the mini buckwheat blini or grate larger pieces of potato, finely chop or slice your onion, and use less flour for texture and crunch and something more akin to a German kartoffelpuffer, Israeli latkes, Czech bramboraky, and American hash browns. I use a kitchen grater with a storage container attached, but you can use any grater – from a simple box grater to a food processor with a grating or shredding attachment.
Please do let us know if you make any of our best pancakes recipes as we’d love to know how they turn out for you.