Wednesday, January 13, 2016

That Other Russian Pancake: Oladi

Unlike the traditional blini, oladi isn't made from a yeasted batter. Its moistness resembles more that of soft cheese than cake and results from the clever combination of acidic kefir and basic baking soda, a chemical commingling causing a creamy texture while retaining an alluring sourness. Frying in oil gives them crisp and slightly raised edges. Presenting as simultaneously elegant and congenial, they must have attended a finishing school somewhere in Moscow. Frozen raspberry and blackberry coulis made from our late-summer harvest were thawed and along with crème fraîche made a wonderful topping.

Raspberry coulis folded into crème fraîche with a sprinkling of blackberry coulis

This was my first attempt at making oladi and they came out much less puffy than those I encountered in my research. I suspect some were made with baking powder. Mine still were fabulous. No kefir nearby? Buttermilk, yogurt diluted with water, or in my case, milk soured with lemon juice, can be substituted.


Ingredients
(makes about 10 small pancakes, the size of the palm of a hand; recipe can be doubled)

  • Flour, all-purpose, white, 9 T
  • Sugar, 1 T
  • Baking soda, 1/2 tsp (small amount of vinegar can be added till a little fizzing occurs--I will try this next time)
  • Salt, 1/4 tsp
  • Egg, 1
  • Whole-milk kefir/buttermilk/well stirred yogurt slightly diluted with water or whole milk soured with 1 T of lemon juice/vinegar and let stand for 15 minutes, 16 T (1 American 8 oz cup)
  • Neutral oil like canola or sunflower

Whisk the milk and egg in the larger of two bowls. In the smaller, mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry mixture all at once into the liquid.


Whisk till mostly smooth. The texture should be of heavy cream; if not add flour or liquid to get that consistency. Heat for several minutes over a moderate flame a heavy skillet that's well slicked with oil. If the pan is tipped, there shouldn't be much pooling of oil (a little is OK). The pancake needs just enough oil to crisp around the edges and not be dry. Spoon in two to three tablespoons of batter for each pancake; my pan took three. Lower the heat a bit. Turn them over after a few minutes and cook for a few minutes more or until they are a little springy to the touch, but still soft. For each batch, make sure the pan is hot and oiled enough, and as they cook, adjust the heat accordingly.


The cooked ones can be kept in a low oven as you make the rest. Serve with sour cream and jam/honey. So delicious!


À la prochaine!