Family Matters: Austrian Kaiserschmarrn

Family favorite Austrian sweet, Kaiserschmarrn made by Sophie Brach.

Family Matters is a series showcasing cherished family recipes. This week we’re covering grandma’s secret recipe for a popular Austrian sweet.

If you have ever been to Austria, you should know that the traditional food there is amazing. Having created popular dishes like the Schnitzel or the sweet Apfelstrudel — a Central European take on apple pie — the Austrians definitely know what they are doing when it comes to cooking.

When my grandma lived in Bavaria, Germany and therefore, in close proximity to Austria, she picked up a lot of delicious recipes — one of them being the famous Kaiserschmarrn, which was a childhood favorite of mine and has been one of our traditional family recipes ever since. Admittedly, Kaiserschmarrn does not seem to be more than a messed-up pancake — and frankly, I am positive that this is how it came to existence — but trust me, these pillows of light, caramelized dough taste like so much more than that. Most of all, this dish is affordable and so easy to make that I would almost call it foolproof. Here is what you need to give Kaiserschmarrn a try:

  • Four egg yolks
  • Four egg whites
  • One-eighth cup of sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • One tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • One-and-a-half cups of milk
  • Half cup of all-purpose flour
  • Two tablespoons of butter
  • (not oil — my grandma insists)
  • Powdered sugar
  • Fruit of your choice

Preparing the batter for Kaiserschmarrn is simple and quick. First, beat the egg yolks, the sugar, the salt and the vanilla with a whisk until the mixture has an airy consistency. Add the milk, and then slowly pour in the flour to avoid lumps. For an extra light and fluffy Kaiserschmarrn, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form and carefully stir them into the batter.


When your mixture is well combined, melt the butter in a pan, add the batter and on low heat, let it set and brown for five to six minutes. Turn over the pancake and let it cook for three more minutes before breaking it up with a spatula into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle in some powdered sugar for caramelization, and gently toss the pieces for another five minutes. Arrange the Kaiserschmarrn on a big plate, cover it with some more powdered sugar and enjoy it with some fruit — Austrians usually serve the dish with applesauce or plums, but this is your chance to be creative and put your own spin on the recipe by combining it with other kinds of fruit and —  if you want go to all out — whipped cream.

So, if you are now craving this heavenly, sweet meal, do not hesitate to treat yourself once in a while with this fast and easy European delicacy or to impress your friends with your newly acquired Austrian cooking skills. By the way, I have more good news for those of you with an extraordinarily big sweet tooth: in Austria, this dish is not merely regarded as an indulgent breakfast or dessert but rather as a full lunch, so here is your excuse for indulging dessert first absolutely guilt-free.


A version of this article appeared in the Monday, March 5 print edition. Email Sophie Brach at [email protected]



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