Kaiserschmarrn ("Emperor's Mess") and memories

Kaiserschmarrn ("Emperor's Mess")

"I can't wait until we get to Austria!" I confessed to Stéphane while navigating the car around another sharp curve in the road from Český Krumlov to Linz. "I'll be able to talk with people ... Ein Bier, bitte", I enthusiastically demonstrated for emphasis. "I'll even be able to order more than one beer. I can order hundreds, or even thousands, of beers in German!"

Stéphane, who had never before seen me so enthusiastic about the German language, expressed similar sentiments. Learning Czech is going much slower than either of us anticipated. Part of the problem is that we live in the touristic center of Prague, where it's really easy to get by with only English. It's a completely different story, however, when we leave the city. During a recent lunch at a small restaurant in the countryside, I'm embarrassed to admit that Stéphane and I ordered exactly the same lunch -- pivo (beer) and goulash -- because those were the only words on the menu that we understood. 

How's your Czech?

As we crossed the border into Austria, Stéphane and I reminisced about our first expat posting in Mühldorf am Inn. Long layered over by experiences in other countries, memories of our lives in Germany suddenly pushed their way to the forefront of our brains. We talked about former friends, favorite foods and the surprising fact that we used to live only two and a half hours from the Czech border, a country that was then known as Czechoslovakia and off limits to us because it was still behind the Iron Curtain when we lived in Germany in 1988.

Of all the Austro-Bavarian specialities, the one that I was happiest to see on the menu in Vienna was Kaiserschmarrn. The first taste of the fluffy dessert, which is also eaten as a sweet main course, reminded me of our neighbor Sonia. She had kindly taken me, the lone American woman in the small town of Mühldorf, under her wing and shown me how to make "Emperor's Mess", Emperor Franz Joseph's favorite dish.

The next time I'm in the USA, I'm going to have to see if I can find Sonia's handwritten recipe for Kaiserschmarrn because I'm almost positive that I still have it. In the meantime, here's a recipe that I found on the Austrian tourism website. It's what Stéphane and I are having for dinner this evening. Guten Appetit!


6 eggs
350–400 ml milk
180–200 g finely ground flour
3 tbsp crystal sugar, for the topping
2 tbsp raisins
1 packet (8g) vanilla sugar
A dash of rum
Some grated lemon rind
A pinch of salt
Approx. 50 g butter for frying
1 tablespoon of butter shavings and crystal sugar, for caramelizing
Icing sugar and cinnamon for dusting

How to prepare it:

Place the raisins in a bowl, mix with the rum and leave to stand for approximately 15 minutes. Separate the eggs and place the yolks in a mixing bowl. Pour in the milk, flavor with some grated lemon rind and vanilla sugar, and add the flour. Mix to form a smooth dough.
Beat the egg whites together with the sugar and a small pinch of salt until it forms a stiff peak, and fold into the dough mix. Pre-heat the oven to 180 °C.
Melt the butter in a ovenproof (coated) dish. Pour in the mixture and after 1–2 minutes sprinkle the soaked raisins over the top. Cook the underside until light brown, turn over using a spatula and bake for 6–8 minutes in the pre-heated oven until golden brown.
Tear the ‘Schmarren’ into small pieces, using two forks. Sprinkle the butter shavings over the top, add some crystal sugar, and caramelize in the broiler under high top heat.
Remove from the oven and arrange on pre-heated plates. Dust with confectioners sugar and cinnamon.

Serve with baked plums, a berry or fruit compote.
The Emperor’s ‘Trifle’ can also be made on the stove top and caramelized at the end covered with a lid.

Kaiserschmarrn ("Emperor's Mess"), Emperor Franz Joseph's favorite dish!


  1. What an interesting life you've had, MK!

    Sweet main course?!? Do not approve! ;)

    1. Likewise, Gwan! The more I learn about where you've lived and what you've done, the more I feel like I've unpeeled another layer of an onion -- not that you're an onion by any means! ;-) Since you don't approve of sweet main courses, I guess it wouldn't be of any interest that they also exist in Switzerland. ;) Some Swiss serve different kinds of pie as a main course on Fridays as a sweet (and less smelly!) alternative to fish.

  2. Yes, I remember very well that you were living in Mühldorf, those many, many years ago! Do you remember that I came to see you - by train, with two little kids in tow - to celebrate Matthias' 2nd birthday? I even remember that you actually did speak some German ;-) P.S. I'm one of those few Swiss though who's never liked eating sweet dishes as a main course

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