Kaiserschmarren – Emperor’s pancake with caramelized plum and cranberry sauce
Kaiserschmarren or Kaiserschmarrn is a popular Austrian fluffy pancake. It’s served usually for breakfast or as a dessert. It’s cooked in a pan or baked in the oven and then cut into bite-sized pieces. It’s traditionally accompanied by plum compote (Zwetschkenröster) or simple apple sauce (Apfelmuss). I’ve also encountered apricot, red currant or cherry preserves. It’s made with whipped egg whites so it’s really delicate and fluffy, it resembles an omelette. I live in Vienna so I had my share of Kaiserschmarren, but I really don’t have enough of it!
If you don’t feel like making a shredded pancake, just give my caramelized plum and cranberry sauce a try! It’s really delicious and can be served with regular pancakes. Traditionally, plums are cooked to a compote consistency. In my version the plums retain their shape and are plump and juicy. I’ve also added fresh cranberries and freshly grated orange zest. If you prefer a version found in Viennese restaurants, you just need to cook the sauce longer, until the plums fall apart and skip the cranberries. The cranberry season is very short anyway.
If you’re planning to visit Vienna, you can find my favorite Kaiserschmarrn here. In the season it’s quite a touristic place, but the area is lovely (Schönbrunn garden!) and food tasty. Unfortunately, If you want to eat breakfast there, usually you’ll need to book it a few days ahead!
The recipe yields two big servings – there’s nothing worse than too little tasty food! If you have a large pan then you can prepare Kaiserschmarren on the stovetop. If you have a smaller pan then it’s better to bake it in the oven (otherwise it could be difficult to flip over, as the pancake would be too thick to set without burning at the bottom). Both methods of preparation are described in the recipe. The black pan on the photos is a typical Austrian frying pan, very popular here. It’s where the Kaiserschmarrn is most often served in.
This fluffly pancake is very simple to make, but the only thing that could go wrong is if you set the heat too high. The bottom of the pancake can burn before the batter is set enough to be flipped over. So, set the heat on low and cover the pan (with a lid or a piece of aluminum foil). This way the batter will set quicker and the pancake will be easier to flip over.
The name of this dessert comes from the German word Kaiser – meaning emperor and Schmarren, meaning mess. There are many theories about the origin of this dessert. The two most popular ones claim that it was one of the favorite meals of the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph. The first one is an example of how delicious things can come out of the kitchen failures. Apparently, the emperor got hungry while hunting, so he visited a farmer, that lived near by. The poor man had only a few ingredients in his pantry, so he decided to make pancakes. Unfortunately, he was so nervous by the visit of an important guest, that in a hurry his pancakes have fallen apart. As a result, he covered the pieces with plum compote. The second legend says that a court cook decided to please Princess Sisi (the emperor’s wife). She was watching her line so he prepared a fluffy and delicate pancake. The Princess was very picky and unfortunately didn’t like it. On the other hand, the emperor has supposedly said “give me this mess (Schmarren), that our Leopold (the cook) have prepared.” Apparently, from this day, the pancake has become one of the Emperor’s favorite desserts.
If you have some cranberries left, try my pumpkin and cranberry muffins! They’re super fluffy and moist.
Kaiserschmarren - Emperor’s pancake with caramelized plum and cranberry sauce
- 4 tablespoons raisins you can skip it*
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice from 1 lemon, skip if you’re not using raisins, you can also add rum
- 1 cup milk 240 ml
- 4 large egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar 16g (preferably with real vanilla), OR 2 tablespoons white sugar + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest preferably from an organic lemon, can be omitted
- 1 cup flour 135g / 4.7 oz
- 4 large egg whites
- big pinch of salt
- 2 heaped tablespoons butter for cooking the pancake, 40g / 1.4 oz
- powdered sugar to serve
caramelized plum and cranberry sauce:
- 3 tablespoons white sugar you can also use light / dark brown sugar if you’ve made caramel before
- 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar 8g (preferably with real vanilla) OR 1 tablespoon white sugar + 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 stick cinnamon OR 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, the best is Ceylon cinnamon
- 2 cloves
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest preferably from an organic orange
- 2 tablespoons red wine or orange juice
- 350 g / 12 oz plums washed, quartered and stoned
- 20 pieces fresh cranberries
- 3 tablespoons water
- Prepare the pancake batter:
- Soak the raisins in lemon juice or rum, set aside (you can soak them longer if you have time or use them right away).
- In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks with sugar, vanilla sugar, lemon zest, milk and soaked raisins together (raising with rum / lemon juice).
- Add the flour, whisk gently until just combined (small lumps in the batter are fine).
- In a second, large and clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form.
- Fold in gently the whipped egg whites into the batter using a silicone spatula.
- If you have a very large frying pan (about 27 cm / 10-11 inch in diameter) you can make kaiserschmarrn on the stovetop:
- Heat the butter in the pan, when it bubbles pour in the pancake batter.
- Cover with a lid (important, if you don‘t have a lid, then cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil). Cook for about 10 minutes over low heat. After this time, the bottom of the pancake should be set and golden, but the top will be still little runny.
- Now you need to flip the pancake over. The easiest way to do this is to divide the dough into 4-8 parts (use a wooden spatula and slice it like you would slice a pizza). Flip over each piece separately. (If it doesn‘t look nice and even, don‘t worry, the whole pancake will end up shredded anyway). Cook on the other side for about 3 minutes.
- Using a wooden spatula, tear the pancake into bite-sized pieces. Cook them for a couple more minutes, stirring gently until the batter is set.
- Transfer shredded pancake pieces to a plate, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with the plum and cranberry sauce.
- If you have a small pan (as in the photos below, e.g. about 21 cm / 8-9 inch in diameter), it’s better to bake the pancake in the oven (in an oven proof pan). It would be too thick to set on a stovetop without burning at the bottom
- Preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F / Gas Mark 5, no fan.
- Melt the butter over medium-low heat in an oven proof skillet. When the butter is melted and bubbling pour in the pancake batter.
- Cook the pancake for about 3 minutes, then put the pan in the oven and bake for about 12 minutes.
- Take the pan out of the oven, cut the pancake using a spatula or knife into 4 parts, turn over, cook for 2 more minutes.
- Tear the pancake into bite-sized pieces. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring gently, until the batter is set.
- Transfer to a plate, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with the plum and cranberry sauce.
caramelized plum with cranberry sauce:
- Add sugar, vanilla sugar, cloves, cinnamon and orange peel into a medium skillet.
- Heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves, turns brown and is bubbling. (You can stir the mixture gently at the beginning, so that it dissolves evenly. If you get any lumps, it’s fine, they will dissolve later.)
- Add wine, stir, cook for about one minute until evaporated.
- Add plums and cranberries, cook for about 5 minutes, until thickened, but the plums still retain their shape. If the plums didn’t release much juice, you can add some water to create a thick sauce.
- Discard the cloves and cinnamon stick.
Did you make this recipe? Let mi know how you liked it in the comments below!
How to make kaiserschmarren – step by step photos:
Prepare the pancake batter.
In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar, vanilla sugar, lemon zest, soaked raisins with the liquid and milk together. Add the flour and whisk until just combined. In a second, large and clean bowl whisk egg whites with salt until stiff peaks form. Fold in gently the egg whites into the pancake batter.
Cook the pancake.
Melt the butter in a frying pan. Pour in the pancake batter. Cook covered on the stovetop (if your pan is big enough) for about 10 minutes or bake uncovered in the oven for about 12 minutes. Cut the pancake into 4 pieces, cook 3 minutes. Using a spatula tear the pancake into bite-sized pieces, cook until set.
Make the caramelized plum and cranberry sauce.
Place sugar, vanilla sugar, cinnamon stick, cloves and orange zest in a frying pan. Heat until sugar is dissolved, brown and bubbling. Add the wine, cook until evaporated. Add the quartered plums and fresh cranberries. Cook for about 5 minutes, adding water if necessary, until thick sauce forms.