An icon of Austrian cuisine, Kaiserschmarren is a fluffy shredded pancake that was first served to Emperor Franz Joseph I around the turn of the 20th century, but there are several legends telling just how it was developed. Kaiserschmarren is made from a sweet batter using flour, eggs, sugar, salt, and milk; it is then baked in butter, torn with forks and pulled apart to finish browning. The name Kaiserschmarren is a compound of the words Kaiser (emperor) and Schmarren, a colloquialism used in Austria to mean “trifle, mishmash, mess, nonsense and folly”. The love of the Austrian Emperor, Kaiser Franz Joseph I, for this dish was referred to humorously as his “folly”.
This Austrian pancake dessert is usually enriched with raisins, sprinkled with icing sugar and served with “Zwetschkenröster” (stewed plums), making it a sweet meal fit for a king, or rather, emperor. However, Kaiserschmarren comes in several forms, with raisins or without raisins; with applesauce; with cranberry sauce or with stewed plums… or all rolled into one?
Anyway, I love Kaiserschmarren that much—and eat it that often at on-mountain eateries while walking or skiing—that I consider it an absolute must-eat food of Tirol. I have had many of which I thought they were scrumptious; the best, however, I enjoyed last summer at Westfalenhaus Lode in Sellrain Valley. The innkeeper makes it as a Crêpe Suzette, served flambé; he pours rum over the freshly cooked Kaiserschmarren with sugar and ignites it, which yields a thick, caramelised sauce – utterly delicious! My best-loved winter version of this Austrian classic is the one served at Hohe Mut Alm in Obergurgl (pictured above).
These two are my personal favourites, yet there is no explanation for people’s preferences. As different people like different things, I wanted to find out where my fellow Tirol bloggers had their best Kaiserschmarren – here are their very different answers.
Eckard: “I prefer the Kaiserschmarren served at Zottahof Inn in Alpbach. They make it extremely fluffy. The rustic interiors add to the unique ambiance of Zottahof – simply terrific!”
Esther: “Well, that’s a difficult question to answer. I have had many wonderful Kaiserschmarren dishes. The one I remember most, however, is the one that I had at Kaiserhaus Lodge in Brandenbergertal Valley. Served like a light, buttery pancake, just the way I like it. And although it had no raisins – usually I prefer Kaiserschmarren with raisins – it was really delicious!”
Michael: “I’ve had my best Kaiserschmarren at Starkenburger Hut in Stubai Valley. Golden brown, crisp on the edges, and light and fluffy in the center. What’s best: they serve Kaiserschmarren with applesauce, which I like most. One serving is usually enough for two. ”
Anne: “One of the best Kaiserschmarren I have ever had was the one I enjoyed at Coburger Hut in Zugspitz Area. You can really taste the eggs and the raisins that are soaked in rum. Served with cranberry jam and applesauce to dip – order one and fall in love with fluffy goodness! ”
Eva: “Obviously, my mom makes the most delicious Kaiserschmarren. I had one that tastes almost like hers at Böglalm in Alpbach last year, though. It had just the right texture, fluffy yet light; with raisins, but not too many; with a splash of rum, but not too much.”
Christina: “I find the Kaiserschmarren served at Neue Magdeburger Hut above Zirl extremely mouth-watering. Their fluffy version of Kaiserschmarren is large so one serving is enough for two—if you’re willing to share.”
Michael: “Last weekend, I enjoyed a wonderful Kaiserschmarren at Karlsbader Hut in the Lienz Dolomites. They serve it with applesauce ‘only‘– which I definitely prefer. To me, cranberry jam comes with Wiener Schnitzel.”