A mess for the emperor & famous Austrian dessert: Kaiserschmarrn

Ogi Savic | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Kaiserschmarrn is a famous Austrian dessert that takes its name from the Austrian emperor (Kaiser) Francis Joseph I, who allegedly loved this delicacy. It can loosely be translated as "a mess or nonsense for the emperor". There is more than one legend about the origin of this meal that is popular all over former Habsburg Monarchy.  

What is Kaiserschmarrn?

Kaiserschmarrn is a slightly caramelised pancake-like sweet meal. To the dough made of eggs, flour, sugar, salt, and milk, different ingredients could be added, such as plums, nuts, cherries, apple jam, small pieces of apple, caramelised raisins or slivered almonds. The original recipe includes only raisins, which are soaked in rum before cooking. In the end, they are usually sprinkled with powdered sugar and served hot with apple or plum sauce or various fruit compotes. The most traditional is a compote made out of plums.

Picture © Credits to iStock / Mariha-kitchen

Legends about the origin of Kaiserschmarrn

The first legend has it that the emperor Francis Joseph I and his wife were on a journey through the Alps and stopped by a farmer's home for lunch. The farmer wanted to prepare a nice meal for his emperor and empresses, so he used all the nicest ingredients that he had to make a delicious pancake. He was so nervous while making it, and his hands were shaking, so he scrambled the pancake. In order to cover the mess up, he used a plum jam. The emperor was delighted with this meal. Another version of the same story says that the farmer’s wife was a lousy cook and while flipping a pancake she has destroyed it.

Another legend has it that empresses Sissi, known for its obsession with maintaining a minimal waistline, ordered to the royal chef to prepare light desserts for her. However, she was not satisfied with the results and didn’t want to eat it. The angry emperor Francis yelled “Now let me see what 'Schmarren" (mess) our chef has cooked up.” But to his surprise, the dessert was to his liking and became one of his favourite meals.  

Picture © Credits to Wikipedia / Josef Kriehuber

Next of the legends about the origin of the Kaiserschmarrn has it that the pancakes were the favourite of all sweets for the emperor Francis. In the case that the cook had messed it up, they would be served as Kaiserschmarrn because it was a shame to serve such a pancake to the emperor.

Where to eat it?

You do not have to search far in Vienna to have a good Kaiserschmarrn. Just about every restaurant with Viennese cuisine offers this deliciously fluffy dessert. No wonder because it is one of the best known and most popular Viennese sweets. I would suggest you go to a traditional Viennese Café Central, where you can have one of the best Kaiserschmarrn in the city.  

No matter where you eat Kaiserschmarrn, the mess for the emperor will delight you with the fullness of its taste, and you should definitely try this famous Austrian dessert.

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