Kaiserschmarrn, a delightfully fluffy and light scrambled pancake, also known as Emperor's mess. This authentic recipe will bring you straight into the Alps, Oktoberfest, or a little ski chalet. These South German/Austrian pancakes are easy to make, and I have some valuable tips so nothing goes wrong.
Kaiserschmarrn reminds me of skiing and is one of my favorite alpine recipes (together with cheese spaetzle and Germknödel) A welcoming sweet treat awaits you after you have been racing on the slopes in the cold. Served with apple sauce, plum butter, or cherry compote, this comfort food never fails to warm from the inside out.
My neighbor Ulrike is Austrian, and she passed on her authentic Kaiserschmarrn recipe to me.
What is Kaiserschmaarn
Kaisermarrn is a dish made from scrambled or torn pancakes, that is often served with icing sugar and raisins. The torn pancake is made from the thick Kaiserschmarrn batter with beaten egg whites, egg yolks, milk, flour, and sugar. The name is put together by two German words. "Kaiser" is the German word for Emporer and "Schmarrn", which can mean torn.
The "Emporer" which is referred in the name is Kaiser Franz Joseph I, who ruled the Austro-Hungarian Empire from 1848-1916. He was married to Elisabeth of Bavaria who in Germany and Austria is a popular figure, as there was a very popular TV series called "Sissi" in the 1950s.
What does Schmarrn mean?
The term Schmarrn has two meanings in German. Firstly, it is a traditional Austrian dish which has the distinct feature that after being cooked is torn into small pieces. It is not just made with pancakes, you can find varieties with semolina (Griessschmarrn) or with old bread rolls "Semmelschmarrn". In the 18th century, it was a dish for workers and farmers. The food was torn up so it was easy to share amongst many people. It was not until the 19th century that it became a dish "fit for an emperor".
The second meaning of Schmarrn is a Bavarian colloquial term referring to "talking nonsense", For example, if someone tells you "Red doch nicht solch einen Schmarn" means "Don't talk such nonsense".
Who invented Kaiserschmarrn?
There are many legends on the origins of Kaiserschmarrn.
- One of them is that the royal chef originally prepared it not for the Emporer but for his wife Empress Elisabeth (Sisi). She wanted to maintain her slim waistline, so she passed the dish over to her husband Kaiser Franz Joseph. He enjoyed it so much that it became a staple dish in the royal household.
- Another legend tells the story that Franz Joseph first tried this dish on a hunting expedition. He loved it so much, that it became one of his favorite foods.
- Again a further legend mentions that the Emoporer rejected a torn and shredded pancake that was prepared for him with the sentence "So ein Schmarrn is des Kaisers nicht wert" (such a mess is not worth for an Emporer".
We will never know which one of these is true. Which one do you think is the most likely?
How to make
There are two different ways of making this Kaiserschmarrn recipe. One, only uses the oven, the second is a combination of a stove-cooked pancake and the oven. I find the second one to produce the best result.
(make sure to check the recipe card for a full list of ingredients and quantities)
- flour (USA all-purpose flour, UK plain flour, Germany Type 405)
- milk - use full-fat milk for the best taste
- eggs - at room temperature. Fresh eggs will give you the best result for whipping the egg whites stiff
- sugar & salt - the pancake is not overly sweet as it will later be served with sweet sauces and powdered sugar
- raisins or sultanas (optional - just omit if you do not like them)
- butter and vegetable oil to bake - you can use either or both. I like using a mixture of butter and vegetable oil, because i can really heat it up, without the butter starting to burn.
- powdered sugar to serve
Kaiserschmarrn Recipe Steps One by One
1. Start by separating the eggs.
2. In a large bowl, mix the egg yolks, flour, milk, and sugar into a smooth batter.
3. In a separate clean bowl whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until you achieve stiff peaks. Then fold the egg white whites carefully into the pancake batter. Don't stir too hard as you do not want the egg whites to deflate again.
3. Preheat your oven to 200°C/ 400°F. Heat the butter and oil in an oven-proof large skillet (Ø 22-24 cm), and slowly pour the batter into the pan. Just pour enough in so that the pancake has an approximate thickness of 1 cm.
4. If you are using raisins, you can sprinkle them on top of the batter now. Cook until golden brown, which should be for approximately 5 minutes on medium heat. Using a wooden spatula, quarter the pancake and then flip each quarter to fry from the other side for 2 minutes.
5. Just before the Kaiserschmarrn is ready, remove the pan from the heat, and tear the pancake with two forks into bite-sized pieces. Place into the oven to bake for another 5 minutes.
5. Dust the pancake pieces with confectioners sugar (icing sugar) and serve immediately.
- If you like, you can use rum-soaked raisins for your sweet fluffy pancake. Just soak them an hour before in 1 shot of rum and some water. If you cook for kids you can also soak theirs in apple juice.
What to serve with Kaiserschmarrn
An authentic Austrian Kaiserschmarrn is usually served with stewed plums called "Zwetschgenröster". This is a traditional plum compote, where the plums are boiled in juice and spiced with lemon, cinnamon, and cloves.
However, other fruit compotes such as apple, cherry, or stewed rhubarb are also popular. Another option is some whipped cream or sweet sauces such as vanilla sauce or plum butter. Also ice cream creates a great contrast to the warm messy pancake.
Kaiserscharrn tastes best when served fresh. However you can also reheat this shredded pancake, but frying it with a little butter in a pan to warm up. You can store cooked Kaisersmarrn in the fridge for a couple of days. I would not recommend freezing Kaischermarrn, as it will lose all its flavor.
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Easy Kaiserschmarrn (+video)- fluffy scrambled pancakes
- 50 gr powdered sugar
- Start by separating the eggs.6 eggs
- In a large bowl, mix the egg yolks, flour, milk, and sugar to a smooth batter.220 gr flour, 250 ml milk, 4 tablespoon sugar
- In a separate clean bowl whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until you achieve stiff peaks. Then fold the egg white whites carefully into the pancake batter. Don't stir too hard as you do not want the egg whites to deflate again.1 pinch salt
- Preheat your oven to 200°C/ 400°F. Heat the butter and oil in an oven-proof large skillet (Ø 26 cm/ 10 inch), and slowly pour the batter into the pan. Only pour enough, that the pancake has an approximate thickness of 1 cm. I used a (Ø 20 cm / 8 inch pan and made 3 pancakes),2 tablespoon butter, 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- If you are using raisins, you can sprinkle them on top of the batter now. Cook golden brown for approximately 5 minutes on medium heat. Using a wooden spatula, quarter the pancake and then flip each quarter to fry from the other side for 2 minutes.4 tablespoon raisins
- Just before the Kaiserschmarrn is ready, remove the pan from the heat, and tear the pancake with two forks into bite-sized pieces. Place the pan into the oven to bake for another 5 minutes.
- Dust the pancake pieces with confectioners sugar (icing sugar) and serve immediately.50 gr powdered sugar
- Serve with a side of apple sauce, stewed plums or other fruit compote. It also goes very well with vanilla sauce or icecream.plum butter, apple sauce, cherry compote, rhubarb compote