Christmas recipe: Buckwheat blinis for breakfast
PUBLISHED: 16:22 22 November 2020 | UPDATED: 16:39 22 November 2020
Stroud writer Kate Young’s debut cookbook The Little Library Year was published to great acclaim last year, and now she’s back with her follow-up, The Little Library Christmas, a collection of 50 festive recipes
5:30 a.m. Why hasn’t Rebecca invited me to her party? Why? Why? How many more parties are going on that everyone has been invited to except me? I bet everyone is at one now, laughing and sipping expensive Champagne. No one likes me. Christmas is going to be a total party-desert…
Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
The tricky thing about Christmas and New Year’s Eve is that everything is supposed to be warm and lovely and twinkly. This time of year is supposed to be filled with love and joy and kin. The season is so easy to romanticize, but the inevitable reality is that, often, it is far from perfect. For so many possible reasons – money, strained relationships, difficult anniversaries, a snap election – this can be a tough time of year.
Though I generally sail through December like the Ghost of Christmas Present, light of spirit and full of love for the season and all that it offers, there have been years where I have struggled. I’ve spent time trapped under anxiety, triggered by the arrival of the beginning of a new year, and all that I thought I could/should/would have achieved. Despite being lucky in my friendships and my families, I have spent Christmases overwhelmed by loneliness – whether literally alone or in the company of others.
In the face of parties and events, I have plastered a smile on my face that in no way reflected how I was feeling. It is so easy to look at Christmas and imagine that the lights, the relentlessly jolly music, the general cheer, might have a resoundingly positive effect. In reality, these seasonal markers, these constant tiny rituals, can instead serve to remind us of what has been lost. So, if you are approaching Christmas this year with a sense of dread, know that I wish I was there to put a comforting hand on your shoulder. Know too that you are very, very much not alone.
I will almost always turn to time in the kitchen when seeking comfort – I want the reassurance of flour between my fingertips as I make pastry, the smell of a chicken roasting in the oven, the taste of melted butter that’s run through a crumpet and down my wrist. But sometimes even making something delicious to eat feels like too much emotional pressure. When it is the shadow of the familiar that causes the ache, time in the kitchen with old favourites only serves to remind me why I am finding things so hard.
I don’t know what has the potential to work for you, but I have found the following invaluable to remember in tricky years. If the thought of carrying on as you have in years past is too difficult, take some time to establish new rituals. Visit new places, see new people, watch new films, cook new food. I have found it reassuring to remember that though this is a period of love, joy and kin, it is also a time for rest. It is entirely appropriate to cut corners if you are entertaining; to buy a bunch of reduced price canapés and oven chips on Christmas Eve (either in company or on your own), and spend Christmas watching an array of gloriously terrible films. The joy of some 5,000 years of solstice and, later, Christmas traditions is that there are no rules – you can make the season into anything that will work for you.
BUCKWHEAT BLINIS FOR BREAKFAST
The March sisters’ breakfast, the one they end up giving away, is a memorable spread. I grew up watching the 1994 film, and I can still see Winona Ryder reach for a sausage before they’re sitting around the table, and Kirsten Dunst with an orange tucked under her chin. But it’s the buckwheats, little Civil War-era pancakes, that I fancy for my Christmas breakfast. The March girls didn’t have salmon, but I see no reason for us to recreate their breakfast too faithfully, especially if you have any leftover gravadlax.
Enough for 8
60g/ 1/3 cup buckwheat flour
60g/ 1/3 cup strong white bread flour
A pinch of salt
A pinch of sugar
100ml/scant ½ cup milk
10g/2tsp fresh yeast (or 3g/1tsp fastaction yeast)*
75g/5tbsp sour cream
1 egg yolk
2 egg whites
Smoked salmon, or leftover gravadlax from yesterday
100g/3½tbsp sour cream
Juice of 1 lemon
* I like the flavour of fresh yeast here, but if you can’t get hold of it, easy/fast-action is great too.
1. Whisk together the flours, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Warm the milk to body temperature in a saucepan, then stir in the yeast until it dissolves. Whisk in the sour cream, and the egg yolk.
2. Pour the liquid ingredients into the .our and whisk thoroughly. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and put it in a draught-free place to rise for an hour (it might take a little longer than this on Christmas morning, so feel free to get your bird prepped, or stuffing made). The batter should almost double in size.
3. After an hour, beat the egg whites to sti! peaks, and then fold them into the frothy mixture. Cover with the tea towel again and leave for another hour. The mixture should be very light and full of bubbles – almost like a foam.
4. Once the batter has risen, warm half a tablespoon of the butter in a frying pan. Without stirring the mixture (you want to retain the lightness), drop teaspoons of the batter into the pan. When the top of a blini is covered with bubbles, flip it over. Cook the blinis in batches until all the batter is used up, adding more butter when needed.
5. Serve each blini warm, with a twist of salmon, a dollop of sour cream, a sprig of dill, and a squeeze of lemon. They can be warmed through in the oven, but are best fresh, if you can serve them straight away.
This recipe is taken from The Little Library Christmas, by Stroud writer, Kate Young. It’s published by Head of Zeus, £15 paperback/£10 ebook. headofzeus.com
SEE ALSO: Turkish delight recipe.