From Fjords to the Alps: Traditional Pancakes in Iceland & Austria
Griddle cakes, flapjacks, crepes, pancakes -- there are countless names for those tasty breakfast treats topped with syrup, berries and whipped cream. While often similar, most cultures in cold climates have their own variants on this popular theme.
We recently shared a recipe for Pönnukökur: golden Icelandic pancakes that guests will taste on the Iceland-Fossavatn Trip when they are in Ísafjörður this April. (If you'd like to join the trip, the final booking deadline is Monday, January 15. Reach out to info@lumiexperiences this weekend if you want to see the trip itinerary and save your spot!)
In Austria this week, guests on the Seefeld & Seiser Alm Sight-Skiing Trip get to sample another style of pancake – Kaiserschmarrn or "the Emperor’s Mess." Kaiserschmarrn are a favorite sweet dish in the Austrian Alps (second perhaps only to Apple Strudel) and enjoyed any time of day – from breakfast to dessert. These traditional shredded pancakes were Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I’s favorite. Rumor has it that the sweet treat originates from an omlette shredded by mistake, which is how the name originated: Kaiser meaning Emperor and Schmarrn meaning a scrambled dish.
Many varieties of pancakes are all made with similar ratios of flour, milk, sugar and eggs, but the egg whites in Kaiserschmarrn are whipped to soft peaks, resulting in a fluffy texture when cooked. The other cooking technique that makes Kaiserschmarrn special is that the pancakes are torn into pieces and then cooked in a buttery skillet until they are golden-brown on the outside. The center however remains custardy and fluffy.
If it sounds like the perfect treat to indulge in after a big ski, it is! Earlier this week, Lumi guests in Seefeld set out for a ski from their hotel to two of our favorite trailside huts in the area. Both huts have great views of the valley below and delicious Tyrolean treats – including Kaiserschmarrn. If you haven’t been to a trailside hut in Austria, they tend to be the perfect combination of rustic with all the amenities you’d expect of a full-service restaurant. There’s usually a warm fire to warm up next to too!
Each village in the Alps puts a different spin on Kaiserschmarrn. In Seefeld, they are sprinkled with powdered sugar and typically served with rum-soaked raisins and applesauce. Other varieties are served with preiselbeeren, similar to cranberry sauce. The topping choice gives the 'schmarrn a unique taste to suit your buds.
If you can’t wait to sample Kaiserschmarrn in Austria, here’s a recipe to make them at home:
- 4 eggs, whites separated from yolks
- 1 Tbl sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 Tbl butter, divided
- Powdered sugar
- Applesauce or other fruit compote
- Whisk egg whites with sugar, ideally with a stand mixer or by hand, until they form soft peaks
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, milk and flour
- Fold the egg whites into the batter until just incorporated
- Heat an ~11” cast iron skillet over medium heat and add 2 Tbl butter
- Pour the batter into the skillet, cover with a lid and let cook until golden
- Remove the pancake to a plate and cut the pancake into 1 - 3” pieces
- Add remaining 1 Tbl butter to the skillet and return the torn pancake to the skillet to cook until all sides are golden
- Dust with powdered sugar and serve with applesauce or another compote!