Russian Quick Buttermilk Oladyi (Buttermilk Pancakes)

Not to start another competition of sorts (the Cold War is not that far behind us), but Russian oladyi (aka pancakes) get me far more excited than their American cousins. Somehow, mysteriously, they manage to feel lighter, and their diminutive size, topped with briny salmon roe and sour cream, or jam and sour cream, makes them so much more fun to eat. It doesn’t hurt that they look all festive and decorated -- just what the season ordered.

This is a quick version of Russian pancakes, the one that doesn’t need any yeast to rise. The yeast-based pancakes are delicious but are notably heavier. With these, you can make them whenever the mood strikes you. My pancake-hating fiancé loved these so much he requested them to be made regularly. I’ve been making these for years, but in all honesty I’ve been eyeballing them every time, just getting to the right consistency, which is what happens when you grow up making the recipe. To test it for this column, I had to reverse-engineer and carefully measure out everything, so that you too could have these delicious fritters this holiday season.

That said, this is a recipe difficult to screw up, so if you add a bit more of this or a bit more of that, I’m pretty certain you will still wind up with a tasty result. My trick to light and airy pancakes -- pancakes that, as I like to say, dreams are made of -- is to beat the egg whites separately and then fold them into the pancake batter.

It makes for a fantastic Christmas Day brunch dish or, if you’re throwing a holiday cocktail party, an excellent hors d’oeuvre to pass around to your guests.

Russian Quick Buttermilk Oladyi (Buttermilk Pancakes) Recipe

2 large eggs, separated, at room temperature1 1/2 cups (360 ml) buttermilk1 tablespoon vegetable oil1 cup (128 grams) all-purpose flour2 tablespoons (30 grams) granulated sugar1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) kosher salt1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) baking sodaSalmon roe, for servingSour cream, for servingJam, for serving

1. In a medium bowl, mix the egg yolks and oil until well combined.

2. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. Add the buttermilk mixture and mix until combined.

3. Using a mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add about 1/3 of the egg whites into the pancake batter and stir to lighten it. Fold the rest of the egg whites into the pancake batter until combined.

4. Warm oil on a nonstick large pan or a griddle over medium heat. Drop about 2 tablespoons of batter to form a circular pancake (you should be able to form about  4 or 5 on the pan and more on the griddle). Cook each pancake about 3 minutes per side. Gently flip over using an offset spatula (much easier than a regular pancake spatula). Serve with salmon roe and caviar, or for sweet pancake meal, sour cream and jam.

Olga Massov, is a freelance food writer and recipe developer. In her past life, she spent a decade working in finance, but now gets to assist the likes of Melissa Clark and Andrew Scrivani. Olga writes a bi-weekly column for the Cooking Channel blog, and has been featured by Saveur.comBonAppetit.com, and GourmetLive, among others. Her other work can be found on www.sassyradish.com and her twitter handle is @sassyradish.

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