The Emperor’s Pancake

Kaiserschmarren

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    2 to 4

    servings

Appears in

Kaiserschmarren is probably the most obvious example of Austrian Mehlspeisen (literally, a repast made from flour). This large pancake, torn into pieces to give it an appealing rustic look, is truly a “flour meal”—quickly prepared from basic ingredients, yet hearty enough for supper. The classic accompaniment is Zwetschkenröster, which mysteriously translates as “roasted plums,” even though the plums are stewed. Two Austrians could readily polish off this amount of Kaiserschmarren, but for American tastes and appetites, it would more likely serve four as a hearty breakfast or brunch dish, served with any jam or warm fruit compote, with bacon or sausage on the side.

When making Kaiserschmarren, remember that part of its charm is its imperfect look. Most cooks would question quartering and flipping sections of an almost-raw pancake, but the batter will eventually cook through to make a light, fluffy pancake.

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Ingredients

“Roasted” Plums

  • 1 pound Italian prune-plums, pitted and quartered lengthwise
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Grated zest of ½ lemon
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground cloves

Batter

  • cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons golden rum, apple juice, or water
  • 4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 tablespoons melted, and 2 tablespoons for cooking)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for serving

Method

  1. To make the “roasted” plums: Combine the plums, sugar, lemon juice and zest, cinnamon, and cloves in a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the plums are tender and juicy but still hold their shape, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
  2. To make the batter: In a small saucepan, bring the raisins and rum to a simmer (or, combine the raisins and rum in a small microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on high for 30 seconds). Set aside until ready to cook the pancakes. Drain off the rum before using.
  3. In a medium bowl, using a handheld electric mixer at high speed or a whisk, beat the yolks and sugar until very thick and light in color. Beat in the milk and the 2 tablespoons of melted butter, then the flour and salt. Do not overbeat.
  4. In a medium bowl, using clean beaters, beat the whites on high speed just until soft peaks form. Stir in about one fourth of the whites to lighten the mixture, then fold in the remaining whites.
  5. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of butter until sizzling. Pour half of the batter into the skillet, and sprinkle with half of the raisins. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, until the underside is golden brown and the pancake is set around the edges, about 3 minutes. Even though the top batter will be uncooked, using a heatproof pancake turner (a plastic one won’t scratch the nonstick skillet), cut the pancake into quarters and flip each quarter over. Don’t worry if they fall on each other—just slide them back into the skillet. Using the edge of the spatula, cut the pancake into largish bite-size pieces. Continue cooking, turning the pieces occasionally, until cooked through, about 3 more minutes.
  6. Sift confectioners’ sugar over the pancake and serve immediately from the skillet. Use the remaining ingredients to make a second pancake when you’ve finished the first one.

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