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A blintz is a thin pancake, often filled with cottage cheese or fruit. The blintz originates in Russia, where it may also be called blin or blini. The pancake is much like a crepe, but is cooked twice. It is first prepared as a crepe, then ingredients are added to the middle and the pancake is folded into a rectangular shape and fried in hot oil.
The traditional Russian blintz differs from the crepe version so often served today. It is made of batter containing yeast, which causes it to rise and to be thicker than the crepe. Russian traditions dictated serving the blintz at wakes and on certain religious holidays as designated by the Russian Orthodox Church.
Today, the blintz is more commonly associated with those who practice Judaism. Blintzes are often prepared for Hanukkah, as they are fried in oil after they are stuffed. One can also purchase good quality frozen blintzes for preparation on Holy Days, or on any other day for that matter. Blintzes can also commonly be obtained in both Russian and Jewish delicatessens.
When no yeast is present, the blintz is quite simple to prepare. It consists of flour, eggs, and milk. A minority favor potato instead of wheat flour, suggesting the potato flour produces a lighter blintz. The yeasted variety must be thinned with milk or water before cooking, and it is not unusual to see the Russian blintz prepared with buckwheat or oat flour.
Many cooks meet their downfall when preparing the blintz, because the blintz very frequently sticks to the pan or fails to cook properly. Cookbooks recommend using a crepe pan so size is controlled. Overfilling the pan is a common mistake. Only about two or three teaspoons are needed to cover the pan and create a thin blintz. A nonstick or well-oiled pan that is properly heated can also make flipping and removing the blintz easier.
Other recommendations for preparing the blintz suggest allowing the batter to sit for at least thirty minutes prior to cooking. The batter can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days. When the batter has a resting period, the wheat becomes less glutinous, resulting in a thinner pancake.
When filling the blintz, most cooks recommend waiting until the pancake has fully cooled. The filled blintzes should be added to a hot pan, and cooked first on the fold side. Blintzes should be served hot. The fruit variety is especially good when a dollop of sour cream is added. Also, blintzes or blini served with caviar are usually topped with sour cream.
Blintzes filled with cottage or farmer’s cheese can be topped with fruit sauce and a little powdered sugar to create a sweet desert. A variant of the blintz from Austria is the Palatschinken, which is rolled around apricot jam rather than folded. Topped with nuts and powdered sugar, Palatschinken is an excellent and unusual dessert.