Austria is known for its delicious cuisine and especially its desserts, including tortes, breads, cakes, pastries or chocolates.
What is Kaiserschmarrn?
Kaiserschmarrn is a “shredded” pancake, literally “kaiser hodgepodge” or “kaiser mishmash” which takes its name from Kaiser Franz Joseph I of Austria (1830-1916). Another royal recipe just like French galette des rois, chocolate charlotte, or Margherita pizza.
Kaiserschmarrn is a very airy pancake prepared with a light sweet dough made with eggs, flour and sugar, and cooked in butter. This dessert can be garnished in various ways, but the most common toppings include nuts, cherries, plums, apple or plum sauce (Zwetschkenröster), apple pieces or almonds, although the traditional topping is raisins soaked in rum.
The different variants of Kaiserschmarrn
There are several versions of the Kaiserschmarrn recipe which have been created over time such as Erdäpfelschmarren with potatoes, Äpfelschmarren with apples, or Kirschschmarren with cherries.
What is the origin of Kaiserschmarrn?
Many stories and legends tell the origin of one of the most famous Austrian desserts.
One legend says that the Emperor was once offered a Holzfällerschmarrn, a traditionally poor dish as he was hunting in the Salzkammergut region and he had to take refuge at a couple of farmers’ house because of bad weather. The recipe was improved with milk, eggs and raisins into a more noble dessert. This dessert was then called Kaiserschmarrn.
Another legend says that the Emperor loved pastries for dessert, especially Palatschinken (the Austrian version of French crepes). If they were unsuccessful, for example too thin or too thick, they were served to the staff as the Kaiser refused to eat them. The translation of Kaiserschmarrn would here give something like it is a “folly to serve to the Emperor”.
Another legend involves the wife of the Kaiser, the Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Yes, we are indeed talking about Sissi! Remember Sissi? She was immortalized by Romy Schneider on the screen. Sissi who was obsessed with her hourglass figure used to ask the chef to prepare light desserts, which apparently annoyed her husband. One day, the chef prepared the famous pancake that she refused to eat, but that her husband absolutely loved.
Kaiserschmarrn was a huge success at home. This dessert is perfect for a weekend brunch. A quick and easy recipe, that can be prepared not only with pronounceable ingredients but with ingredients that everyone can find in his pantry!
- 3 tablespoons raisins
- 3 tablespoons dark rum
- 1 cup whole milk
- 5 eggs
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup flour
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons icing sugar for dusting
- 8 oz. fresh strawberries
- Juice of half a lemon
- ¼ cup sugar
- In a small bowl, soak the raisins in rum for about 15 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla. Gradually add flour to make a smooth batter.
- In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.
- Pour the batter into the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until the Kaiserschmarrn slightly sets and the bottom is lightly golden.
- Flip the pancake and cook the other side. If the Kaiserschmarrn breaks into pieces, it's fine. It is also possible to cut it into quarters before turning it over, quarter by quarter.
- Add the raisins soaked in rum.
- Using a spatula or a fork, tear the pancake into bite size pieces as it continues to cook for a few minutes.
- Serve in a dish. Dust with icing sugar and serve for example, with strawberry compote (recipe below).
- Cut strawberries coarsely.
- Put the strawberries, lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan and simmer over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, while stirring regularly.