Sunshine and pancakes: that’s the theme of Maslenitsa! Loosely translated as Butter Pancake Week, Maslenitsa is a Slavic festival that originated in pagan times as a way to bid farewell to winter and welcome in the sunny season of Spring.

Maslenitsa (Russian Pancake Week)

The deliciously gluttonous week of sweet and savory blini – pronounced blee-nee (or singular blin), starts one week before the Great Lent.

A time for family merriment the traditions of celebrating Maslenitsa usually feature snowball fights, rides on horse-drawn sleighs, folk music and storytelling, and of course food.

Blini are usually baked in large quantities and shared among friends, family and neighbors to symbolize the sun and its warmth. Although various topics and even stuffing are now common, blini were typically drenched in butter – lending Maslenitsa its famous name (literally Butter Week).

So what makes blini different from pancakes and crepes?

Traditional Russian blini are made with buckwheat flour batter and have a slightly nutty flavor. Today, the super thin pancakes are prepared in hundreds of ways and are accompanied by everything from caviar and smoked salmon, to chopped eggs and sour cream.


Below is a recipe for traditional Russian Blini.

  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 tsp instant (rapid-rise) yeast
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 egg (separated)


  • In a large bowl, mix flours, salt and instant yeast, and make a well in the center.
  • Pour in milk, mixing until smooth. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • Stir cooled melted butter and egg yolk into batter. In a separate bowl, whisk egg white until stiff but not dry. Fold into batter. Cover and let stand 20 minutes.
  • Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Drop medium-size dollop of dough into pan and tilt pan to spread the batter into a thin layer. Cook for about 1 minute or until bubbles form and break. Turn and cook for about 30 seconds. Cover blini and keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter.
  • Serve with toppings of choice: farmer’s or cottage cheese with strawberry preserves, fresh fruit with sour cream or crème fraiche, red or black caviar, smoked salmon or other fish, chopped hard-cooked eggs.

You can also order ready-made Russian Blini at