When it comes to Austrian sweets, you probably think of elaborate strudel-wrapped pastries, precious marzipan confections, or the iconic Sachertorte, which originated in Vienna’s most exclusive hotel. But when I moved to Vienna last January, these elaborate treats weren’t exactly the ones I craved. To ease my transition into my life abroad, and to counteract the incredibly chilly, gray weather, I wanted something warm, unfussy, and most of all, über-comforting.
It turns out that Kaiserschmarren — essentially a fluffy, shredded pancake — was just the ticket. And although I was first introduced to this classic recipe at the famous Cafe Landtmann, it’s easy to recreate at home. The light batter, studded with rum-soaked raisins, comes together quickly and is baked into a single, jumbo-sized pancake. Then, comes the game changer — the whole thing is torn into bite-sized, pillowy pieces and sautéed until the rough edges are caramelized and ready to accept a generous dusting of confectioners’ sugar. Often served directly in the pan, with a side of applesauce, Kaiserschmarren is comfort food at is finest — it’s warm, just indulgent enough, and can be whipped up from simple pantry ingredients whenever a craving strikes.
(can use almond milk)
or vanila bean paste
plus apple sauce, jam, stewed fruit, or fresh fruit, for serving
Heat the oven to 400ºF and arrange a rack in the middle. Combine the raisins and rum in a small bowl and set aside. Whisk the egg yolks, milk, flour, salt, vanilla and lemon zest together in a large bowl. Whisk until smooth then set asdie to stand for 10 minutes.
Mixing a portion of the egg whites into the base will lighten it so it will be easier to fold together with the egg whites.
In a second bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-low speed until frothy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar, increase the mixer to medium and beat until glossy, soft peaks form, about 3 to 4 minutes more. Stir one-third of the egg whites into the yolk mixture until fully combined. Then gently fold the remaining egg whites into the yolk mixture until fully incorporated.
In a 12-inch ovenproof fying pan, melt the butter over medium heat until foam subsides. Swirl the pan to distribute the butter, then pour in the batter and sprinkle the raisins and any remaining rum over the surface. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until top is puffed, and both sides are golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and divide the pancake into rough 1 to 2-inch pieces using spatula or two forks. Return the pan to the stove and cook the Kaiserschmarren over medium heat, tossing frequently until the torn edges are caramelized, about 5 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and dust generously with confectioners’ sugar. Serve with applesauce, jam or fruit.
We like to use a fish spatula to cut up the pancake as it's sharp edge makes this easier to do!
Food styling and photography by Aida Mollenkamp