• Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Best Kaiserschmarrn Recipe

Kaiserschmarrn - Pancakes Fit for a King
By , Food Contributor
February 13, 2020

Some people ski out West.  Some people ski the Alps.  I have a soft spot for the Dolomites, a majestic red-hued mountain range in the north of Italy.  As one of the world’s premier skiing destinations, where the town of Cortina is a former Olympic village, the Dolomites are known for challenging slopes, views for days, and mountain cuisine that is the marriage Italy and Austria. 

Imagine: Your toes ache from your ski boots, and you feel relieved to pull up to the next baita you see.  Baitas are small, wooden houses or lodges, which are plentiful on the slopes in the Italian, Austrian, and French Alps.  Many of them are restaurants serving homey, local cuisine.  After a morning of skiing hard, there is nothing better in that moment than sitting down for a meal.  While it may be simple, hearty, cozy food, it always leaves you in disbelief because of just how good it is.  There is something to be said for authenticity and recipes that have been around for generations.  

Intuitively, you might think that baitas in the Dolomites serve Italian food (since the Dolomites are located in the Alto Adige region of Italy), but the area is actually home to multiple cultures.  The Dolomites are very close to Austria and were historically part of the territory of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  The beauty of the region food-wise is that you can have an amazing spaghetti carbonara one day and a spot-on wiener schnitzel the next.

In the baitas of the Austrian Alps and Alto Adige, one dish that stands out is the dessert Kaiserschmarrn.  A traditional Austrian dessert, Kaiserschmarrn is essentially a fluffy, delicious, caramelized shredded pancake that has raisins inside.  It’s usually dusted with powdered sugar for decoration and an extra bit of sweetness.  It may seem simple, but it’s a dish fit for kings.  Translated as “Emperor’s Mess,” Kaiserschmarrn is generally accepted to have first been prepared for Austrian Emperor Francis Joseph I (1830–1916).  When eating it, you get the ultimate experience of fluffy texture and caramelization that melts in your mouth.

If you happen to be in the Dolomites and want a taste of some of the best Kaiserschmarrn around, head to Seiser Alm (Alpi di Siusi in Italian) for some of the Dolomites’ best slopes and The Gostner Schwaige, one of (if not the) the best baitas serving local Alpine cuisine cooked to perfection. From hearty Heublütensuppe — a crave worthy soup made with local hay, flowers, and herbs in a bread bowl — to homemade cheeses, jams, and yoghurts, Gostner Schwaige has a variety of local and soulfully prepared dishes.  The best part about sitting down for a meal at Gostner Schwaige is the Kaiserschmarrn you can order at the end, or for your meal.  We won’t judge.  This is where I was introduced to the dish, and I have not had a better version since.  Perfectly fluffy, sweet, and powdered, The Gostner Schwaige prepares it with a reduction made from local berries for a balanced mix between acidity and sweetness. 

If you’re not in the Alps this ski season, we’re bringing it home to you.  I’ve created my own recipe for Kaiserschmarrn.  It mostly sticks to tradition, but instead of a berry reduction it makes use of the leftover rum from the raisin-soak in a buttered rum sauce.


Lorenzo’s Kaiserschmarrn Recipe


1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup rum
4 large eggs, separated
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Zest of one lemon
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 tsp pure almond extract
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp of salt
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted
4 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp confectioner’s sugar, plus more to dust
Buttered Rum Sauce (optional)


Soak the raisins in rum for at least 40 minutes.  Strain, reserving the rum aside for buttered rum sauce, recipe below. 

Combine egg yolks and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  Beat until pale yellow and as they start to thicken (about 2 minutes with a handheld mixer on medium speed).  Use a rubber spatula to occasionally reincorporate parts of the mixture that may stick to the side of the bowl.  Add the vanilla extract, almond extract, salt, lemon zest, and milk.  Slowly add in the flour (one to two tablespoons at a time) until completely incorporated.  Stir in the raisins, making sure to distribute them evenly.  Place the batter mixture aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, add the cream of tartar to the egg whites, beating the whites to stiff peaks.  Be careful not to overbeat them — if they begin to look speckled, you’ve gone too far. Take one fourth of the egg whites and add them to the batter mixture, mixing together well.  Then, gently fold the remaining of the beaten egg whites, one fourth at a time, into the batter mixture, taking great care not to overfold.

Add a tablespoon of butter to a 12-inch skillet over medium heat.  Spread the melted butter around the skillet.  Pour the batter into the skillet, making sure the raisins are distributed evenly as you pour.  Allow to cook undisturbed on one side until golden brown (about 3-4 minutes), then flip to the other side.  If there’s too much batter for you to flip it all at once, cut it into pieces and then flip each individual piece. Don’t worry if it falls apart slightly — you’re going to break it up later anyway.  The most important thing is to make sure all the batter is now cooking, as no one wants raw batter.  When the other side is golden brown, break all of the pancake into inch-long pieces, where the asymmetry is part of the beauty of the dish.  Take the skillet off the heat.  Add another 3 tablespoons of butter and the confectioner’s sugar evenly throughout the dish.  Return to medium heat and cook for around 2 minutes, tossing the pancake bits as they cook. 

Plate the Kaiserschmarrn and dust with powdered sugar.

Buttered Rum Sauce


1/3 cup rum
2 eggs
2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter


Combine eggs, brown sugar, 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract, flour, salt, and butter in a medium-sized saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and stir constantly.  Cook sugar until dissolved (about 5 minutes).  The mixture will be very hot, so carefully taste.  Remove from heat.  Stir in rum and 2 tsp of pure vanilla extract.  Cool in fridge.  Reheat before serving if too thick or cold.

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