Post by Alison Hein.
My sweet little German cousin Nina recently visited us with her charming boyfriend, Michael. Two weeks after their departure, I received a large, intriguing envelope postmarked Munich. Inside I found Grandma’s German Cookbook by Birgit Hamm and Linn Schmidt, which contains an extensive and authentic array of traditional recipes. Nina and Michael had also annotated, peppering the pages with bits of information, advice, and favorites. Smack in the center of the book was Kaiserschmarrn – a much beloved Austrian and Bavarian indulgence, and one which I had not considered in quite some time.
Etymology for this butter-crisped, shredded pancake is interesting. Kaiser for emperor, and schmarrn for a word which means mishmash, or mess. Stories abound regarding how this dish came into being, but I prefer to think of it as a happy accident – a crêpe gone awry, miraculously rescued by an innovative (or desperate!) chef and transformed into a delicacy fit for a king.
Crisp, beaten egg whites aerate the batter and keep the Kaiserschmarrn light. Use a gentle hand folding them into the somewhat thick batter to retain the airiness. There are many variations to this delectable recipe – replace cream with milk for a thinner result, or add extra sugar to the batter for a cake-like feel. Serve with fruit, or sweet sauce; soak the raisins in apple juice instead of rum; or dust the Kaiserschmarrn with sugar and caramelize it under the broiler. Or, perhaps best of all, dress your crispy Kaiserschmarrn with powdered sugar and eat it straight from the pan for a breakfast in bed that’s fit for a king.
¼ cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon rum
3 eggs, separated
½ cup heavy cream
¾ cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Place golden raisins into a small bowl. Cover with rum and let sit for 15 to 30 minutes.
In large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside. In separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks, heavy cream, flour, sugar and salt until thick and smooth. Fold beaten egg whites gently into batter.
Place a 12–inch diameter heavy frying pan on stove over medium heat. Add butter to pan. When melted, pour in batter to cover. Sprinkle rum-soaked raisins on top. Continue to cook over medium heat. When batter begins to set, gently tear and push apart the dough (using a wooden spatula) into bite-sized pieces. Flip pieces to cook other side. Cook until lightly browned and crisped. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately.
Makes 1 Kaiserschmarrn; or 2 servings.