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Prep 15 mins

Cook 15 mins

Serves 4

2 1/2

Of all the Austrian dessert classics, this imperial one reigns supreme over Alpine menus. This light, caramelised pancake is made from a sweet batter using flour, eggs, sugar, salt, and milk, baked and then shredded and served hot with jam.

Though Kaiserschmarrn originated in Vienna, it’s not exactly something you’d bring to a kaffeeklatsch (social gathering for coffee and conversation), or that you’d crave on a warm summer day. It is big, it’s easy to make, and it’s a whole lotta rustic. Served right from the frying pan it was cooked in, it’s a jumble of buttery shredded pancake generously dusted with icing sugar. In other words, it’s best made and enjoyed in a 300-year-old hut in Tyrol.

That’s how I came to try it at the Gampe Thaya hut, located at 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) in the southern Ötztal Valley. In the summer, Gampe Thaya is also a dairy farm set in a meadow chock-full of cows and Alpine pastures, flora, and fauna. In the winter, it’s a ski-in/ski-out lodge right on the Gampe Alm piste. Regardless of the season, owner Jakob Prantl will welcome you, pour you a beer, and just maybe make you Kaiserschmarrn with his own two (very large) hands. Side note: For ski enthusiasts, Gampe Thaye is an alpine must-visit; the hut is open for dinner after the cable cars have closed for the day. Because the lodge is halfway up the mountain, most taxi services will drop you at the midway point and expect you to walk the remaining 30 minutes to the hut (a beautiful
hike when it’s still light out). Taxi Lenz in Soelden, however, will drive
you door-to-door.

Kaiserschmarrn is also known as the Emperor’s mess and believed to have been named after Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I, although some say his wife had more of a sweet tooth. The possibilities for Schmarrn (translated as “shredded or chopped pancake”) variations are endless! To make Apfelschmarrn (apple) or Kirschschmarrn (cherry), simply add a few thin slices of apple or a handful of pitted and halved cherries to the batter before you pour it into the pan. You can also add 2 tablespoons of raisins to the batter, or stir in finely grated zest of a lemon if you prefer.

120g plain flour, seived

240ml milk

3 eggs

55g unsalted butter, melted

Fine sea salt

60ml (¼ cup) grapeseed oil

60g pure icing sugar

2 tbsp Rum (optional)

Apple jam or compote and/or cranberry
jam for serving

In a large bowl, combine the flour, milk, eggs, melted butter, and a pinch of salt, and whisk well to combine into a loose batter. Let rest at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.

In a large well-seasoned frying pan over medium heat, warm the grapeseed oil until it shimmers. Pour in the batter and let it sit in the pan, untouched, so it can start to slightly brown on the bottom. Using a flat spatula, or a deft flick of the wrist, flip the pancake and continue to cook until brown on the other side, about 2 minutes.

Using two forks and working directly in the pan, coarsely cut the pancake into pieces, (2.5cm to 5cm) in size. Sprinkle liberally with icing sugar.

Harness your Alpine bravado by splashing the Rum onto the pancake, then setting the pan aflame. 

Let the fire subside and serve up the Kaiserschmarrn warm in its pan, accompanied by apple and/or cranberry jam.



Words and recipe Meredith Erickson from the book, Alpine Cooking.

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