What your mother made sounds so much like the blini or blinchiki which I grew up with as a child. It is a traditional Russian dish served the week before Lent. We used to gorge ourselves with blini with savory and sweet fillings - sometimes just a pat of butter or sour cream, sometimes caviar, smoked fish (like whitefish, salmon or sturgeon), sardines, sauteed mushrooms, sauteed onions or jams, fruit preserves, powdered sugar, cottage cheese, whatever you have and lots of it! Butter and sour cream are a MUST.
You need to use well seasoned cast iron pans to cook bilni - to tell you the truth - we used the BACKS of the pans! Now that I think of it - a pretty impressive feat. But, for beginners, I suggest using the pot the right way first! We used to use at least 2 pans at the same time and when each blini was done each one was stacked on the other with a small pat of butter in between (we use unsalted butter only). The pans were always prepared with a brush dipped in clarified butter before the batter was poured in.
They are made paper thin - the French would call them crepes. The best blini are made from buckwheat flour or a combination of buckwheat and white. Don't hurry the process.
Here are a few recipes you might want to try...they are labor intensive. Taken from Kira Petrovskaya's Russian Cookbook.
Paper-Thin Blini (Traditional)
1 1/4 cups Buckwheat flour
3/4 cup white flour
1 cake of yeast
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
1 cup hot milk
2-3 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
Dash of salt
1. In a large bowl dissolve yeast in lukewarm water.
2. Add 3/4 cup white flour and 1/4 cup buckwheat flour. Mix thoroughly and cover with a towel. Put in a warm (not hot) place to rise and let it stand for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
3. Add remaining flour and mix thoroughly. Let rise again for another 1 1/2 hours.
4. Add to the raised batter 1 cup hot milk and mix well. Watch for milk skin and discard. Let cool.
5. Meanwhile, slightly beat egg yolks, salt and sugar. Slowly add melted butter.
6. Whip heavy cream until very fluffy, but not stiff.
7. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold the egg whites into the cream.
8. Combine all the ingredients with batter and let it stand for another 1 1/2 hours.
9. Without stirring or disturbing the batter, carefully spoonout one tablesppon of batter for each pancake and fry on hot cast iron pan. (We would swirl the pan until we spread out the batter.) When they are done on one side brush or sprinkle with hot melted butter and turn over. They take about 2-3 minutes to cook per side.
Serve with sour cream.
The recipe should make about 20 - 25 blini, serving three Russians but four to six Americans. :-)
Blinchiki with Applesauce
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp applesauce
1 tbsp sugar
Dash of salt
1. Beat together eggs, sugar and salt.
2. Add milk slowly alternating with flour. Mix lightly between additions.
3. Blend in applesauce and melted butter. The batter should be VERY thin, so add more milk if necessary.
4. Fry on both sided on a hot, cast iron griddle which has been greased lightly with butter.
You can also stuff the finished blini with more applesauce (roll them shut) or cottage cheese with sour cream or preserves and either fry them again in a little butter or put the little tubes side by side in a baking dish, sprinkled with powdered sugar and melted butter and bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 - 15 minutes.
Serve with sour cream.
Serves 4 - 6 people.
And people wonder why I can't eat cheese ravioli with tomato sauce...I only eat them with sour cream and then sprinkled with sugar - haha - little do they know!