“Kaiserschmarrn,” Vienna’s Shredded Soufflé Pancake: The Emperor’s Light & Fluffy “Mess” With A “Roasted” Fruit Stew at Pre-Holocaust Kosher Restaurant Neugröschel (Recipe). #Sisi #Torberg

"Kaiserschmarrn", the emperor's messy soufflé pancake in all its glory!

 

Recipe: The Emperor’s Messy Soufflé Pancake with a “Roasted” Fruit Stew

I’ve never really fancied Kaiserschmarrn until I tried this specific recipe. The more I learned about the dish, the more I came to appreciate everything about it.

Kaiserschmarrn is the epitome of Vienneseness—and there’s nothing like this thick fluffy scrambled crêpe whispering golden imperial Vienna in your ears!

From Vienna’s pre-Holocaust Jewish restaurant Tonello to its kosher competitor restaurant Neugröschel, and from present day Neue Galerie’s Café Sabarsky in New York to Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in Beverly Hills, all have featured Kaiserschmarrn on their menus.

Indeed, this is one of the rare dishes equally as popular with the coffeehouse and pub crowds as it is with fine diners. Kaiserschmarrn has remained a delight of Viennese Jews and their descendants all over the world.

This is a dish often found in Jewish cookbooks, especially those hand-written recipe scrapbooks carefully scripted by our Viennese and German mothers or omis (grandmothers). The Leo Beck Institute devoted to the study of the history and culture of German-speaking Jewry has quite a few of these manuscripts with Kaiserschmarrn in their collection.

Celebrity cookbook author Joan Nathan features a German Schmarrn in her Jewish Cooking in America, and WIZO Austria certainly has one in their Jewish Tradition, Modern Cuisine 1993 booklet, to name just two vastly different examples.

And every non-Jewish Viennese cookbook has an entree for Kaiserschmarrn.

Kaiserschmarrn served in New York at Neue Galerie's Café Sabarsky by Austrian born chef Kurt Gutenbrunner. Among other places in New York, he's also the chef and owner of the famous Michelin star rated Austrian restaurant Wallsé. In a rather unorthodox fashion, this outstanding Kaiserschmarrn is served with a pear compote. Also, take note of the square-cut pieces.
Kaiserschmarrn as served in New York’s Neue Galerie’s Café Sabarsky. Austrian-born chef Kurt Gutenbrunner also owns the Michelin star rated Austrian restaurant Wallsé. Teo unusual (but elegant) details of this presentation include a side of pear compote, and the evenly-cut square pieces. (Usually the dish is served as a pile of uneven “chunks,” which aptly represents the concept of “Schmarrn.” See for example chef Heinz Reitbauer’s traditional presentation at Meierei im Stadtpark.)

What is Schmarrn anyway?

Eastern Jews have their blintzes, the French have crêpes, the Americans have pancakes, Central Europe (including Vienna) has Palatschinken, and the southern German-speaking regions including Austria have their various Schmarrn.

Schmarrn translates to something like mess, folly, crumbs, mish-mash, rubbish, or even nonsense.

With the prefix Kaiser, meaning “emperor,” Kaiserschmarrn translates to “emperor’s mess”—in other words, a refined sort of mess, and (possibly) a dish of noble descent.

But some etymologists and historians claim that Kaiser instead stems from a similar sounding local name for a mountain peasant, thus eluding to its rather lowly extraction.

One can only wonder about the linguistic proximity of these two designations for two men at the opposite ends of social hierarchy. But as the legend—or propaganda— goes, Austrian Emperor Francis-Joseph I (1830–1916), of the house of Habsburg-Lothringen, had a predilection for all things simple, humble and frugal and thus for this straight-up mess of a dessert.

(This was probably a family tradition; his great-great-aunt Marie Antoinette also staged a peasant-like life in the gardens of Versailles until she was guillotined.)

Emperor Francis Joseph I depicted in his traditional 'Ischler' hunting costume by Edmund Mahlknecht in 1877. When the emperor wasn't wearing his military uniform, he was in a hunting costume. On one such hunting occasion, emperor Francis Joseph was apparently served a refined version of this peasant dish and he liked it at least that's one of the stories of the origin of Kaiserschmarrn. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Emperor Francis Joseph I in his traditional ‘Ischler’ hunting costume, as depicted by Edmund Mahlknecht (1877). When Emperor Francis Joseph wasn’t wearing his military uniform, he was in a hunting costume. On one such hunting occasion, Emperor Francis Joseph was apparently served a refined version of this peasant dish and liked it. At least, that’s one of the stories behind the origin of “Kaiserschmarrn.” (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Schmarrn Goes Bourgeois

Schmarrn originated as a peasant dish substantial but inexpensive ingredients like milk and flour were used to make food that was both filling and nourishing. These simple concoctions evolved to become Bourgois city cuisine—creations made up of fluffy foams, creams, and mousses.

The Bourgeois version also included loads of sugar, which was expensive at the time, and fancy aromatics, like vanilla. Many Austrian cooks still use Kaiserschmarrn recipes without sugar in the batter, and this ends up tasting very similar to the peasant version.

But the emperor’s Kaiserschmarrn and those served at the city’s Bourgeois tables, at Freud’s for example, were likely a refined version of the peasant dish containing regular sugar, vanilla and the like.

Cosmopolitan, Bourgeois Viennese cuisine was elegant and refined until the rupture of civilization, which represents the Holocaust. With the extermination of Europe’s Jews in World War II peasant tendencies overtook large parts of Viennese cuisine and presented themselves as the original, pure, and sole stages of Viennese cuisine. After the war there was not a lot of change to this vision of things. The role of the Jews was further minimized and forgotten. But these ideologic claims by the Nazis and their—conscious and unconscious—sympathizers are unmistakably wrong, as they ignore the historical facts that a refind metropolitan culture existed in pre-Holocaust Vienna. The murder and expulsion of Vienna’s Jews and the resulting loss of Jewish culture changed the nature of Viennese cuisine forever.

Not so unanimous after all: There's more than one recipe for Kaiserschmarrn in the cookbook that Sigmund Freud offered to his wife in 1894. The main difference between the two resides in the use of beaten egg whites to make it fluffier. Also, there's sugar in the batter of one of them. But more significantly, recipe number one advocates cutting (!) the dough in square (!) pieces. In this regard, recipe number two is more conventional-looking to our contemporary understanding. It tells us to use two forks in order to rip apart the dough.  (Deutsche Kochschule in Prag, Sammlung von erprobten Speisevorschriften, 1894)
In 1894, Sigmund Freud offered his wife a cookbook containing two recipes for “Kaiserschmarrn”, one which uses beaten egg whites to make it fluffier, which is the key difference between the two. One also contains sugar and sour cream in the batter. More significantly, recipe number one advocates cutting (!) the dough in square (!) pieces. But recipe two tells us to use two forks to rip the dough apart, and thus represents the contemporary, conventional (“messy”) version.  (Kochbuch der Deutschen Kochschule in Prag, Sammlung von erprobten Speisevorschriften, 1894)

So how does one end up with such a refined mess?

We could describe this addictive sweet comfort food as nothing more than scrambled pancakes. But they are so much more!

These are light and airy, fluffy, fashionable and Instagram-worthy souffle pancakes, caramelized and torn into bite-size pieces, served sprinkled with powdered sugar and accompanied by (or on) a bed of fruity preserves, fruit stews, or other compotes.

Traditionalists only use Zwetschken-röster, a local variety of plum stew, as the fruity accompaniment. This consists of “roasted” damson plums lightly stewed in its juices, a little shot of Slivovitz (or other high-quality fruit brandy in the same flavor of the fruit), and a minimal amount of sugar. (On the important question whether such a fruit stew is technically a compote, see my translation of Jewish Viennese author Friedrich Torberg’s anecdote at the end of this text.)

Other compotes can vary according to the season: From apple sauce over strawberry or rhubarb and peach compote to apricot, damson plum, or even cherry röster.

Egg yolks and sour cream in a mixing bowl. Doesn't it look terrific? My "Kaiserschmarrn" is made with sour-cream which lends it its delicately tarte flavor. If you can't source sour-cream use crème fraîche, fromage blanc or yogurt instead. It's not the same but it's close and also very good.
Egg yolks and sour cream in a mixing bowl. Doesn’t it look terrific? My “Kaiserschmarrn” is made with sour cream which lends it its delicately tart flavor. If you can’t source sour-cream use crème fraîche, fromage blanc, or yogurt instead. It’s not the same, but it’s close and also very good.

Simple & Fresh Ingredients

Viennese Nouvelle Cuisine, for example at Peter Grunauer’s legendary Vienna 79—rated four stars in the 1980s by New York Times‘ Mimi Sheraton— couldn’t pass such an opportunity to play with very simple and fresh ingredients.

This dish needs few ingredients, but they must be high in quality and flavor, so you’ll want to pick the best eggs, vanilla beans (not vanilla extract), and in-season fruit.

Wolfgang Puck’s delicious and eye-catching version, for instance, follows a popular contemporary Austrian trend to lighten up the dish even further and to make it a bit like Salzburger-Nockerl, a classic soufflé dish from Salzburg. Again, old-school Kaiserschmarrn was often a hefty fare based on a very thick mixture halfway between a heavy roux and a sort of pâte-à-choux.

Freud’s gift to his wife, the 1894 cookbook Deutsche Kochschule in Prag, appeared to have been used extensively by the Freud family until Freud’s daughter Anna’s death in 1982. As mentioned above, the main difference between the two versions of Kaiserschmarrn in this book is that one recipe uses beaten egg whites to make it fluffier.

We see that this contemporary trend isn’t so recent after all. Today it is hard to find a recipe that doesn’t resort to the use of beaten egg whites to give it more volume and airiness, not unlike a soufflé. Interestingly, social imagery is inundated via Instagram with very familiar-looking Japanese soufflé pancakes, except that those are not destined to be shredded.

The imperial soufflé pancake as it comes out of the oven before it becomes a mess. This it how it looks like after 20 minutes at 390°F/ 200°C.
The imperial soufflé pancake as it comes out of the oven (20 minutes at 390°F/200°C) and before it becomes a mess.

A Symbol of Loyalty and Integrity

Kaiserschmarrn is such a popular dessert—in Vienna even served as the main course after a vegetable soup—that we can guess Freud ate it often especially later in his life, as its softness must have suited his difficulties to eat, swallow and chew due to oral cancer.

Also, just like Tafelspitz (see my previous post), another dish strongly associated with Freud and with emperor Francis-Joseph I who both supposedly loved it, the consumption of such fare by every self-respecting assimilated Jew was understood as a sign of loyalty to the head of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

Why this allegiance? Because the emperor, even though a very conservative and autocratic ruler, was seen as a person who treated Jews well throughout his long reign. Symbolically, to mention just one such instance, the Emperor rejected the investiture of a virulent anti-Semite, Karl Lueger, as mayor of Vienna on more than one occasion. (He eventually became mayor after all, and has a statue in his honor on the Ringstrasse boulevard till this day.)

The pancake inverted to the cutting board. I'm about to make a mess out of the emperor's pancake by cutting with two knives in order not to destroy it too much. Cross the knives like sabers which is kind of apropos for a pancake named after an Austro-Hungarian ruler.
Here I am about to make a controlled mess out of the emperor’s pancake by cutting it with two knives crossed like sabers—kind of apropos for a pancake named after an Austro-Hungarian ruler. (Cutting it with two knives keeps it from becoming a complete mess!) Cutting “Kaiserschmarrn” with a knife is by some purists standard considered a sin. But this is a debate going on since the existence of Kaiserschmarrn. Already in old famous cookbooks, we find both methods (see the Kochbuch der Deutschen Kochschule in Prag above).

This is also the story of the glorious past of the Habsburg empire when the Jews were perceived by the emperor to be the cement that kept all the different nations making up the Austro-Hungarian empire—all those languages and cultures—together.

In all of these nations, Jews were a common denominator in a state that was otherwise drifting apart as nations continued to quarrel. As a result, Jews were allowed to serve in the Austro-Hungarian army and could even gain high ranking positions. A merit that was, as was everything else, disregarded by the anti-Semites of that period and later by the Nazis.

Having fought in World War I in the Austrian army didn’t count for much a couple of decades later. During the murder of the Jews of Europe, more than one had wrongly thought they were safe had they obtained medals of honor in the Austro-Hungarian army.

The very best "Kaiserschmarrn", the emperor's messy soufflé pancake ready to be tasted with some "Zwetschkenröster", "roasted" damson plum stew.
The very best “Kaiserschmarrn”, the emperor’s messy soufflé pancake ready to be tasted with some “Zwetschkenröster,” “roasted” damson plum stew on the side.

Legends of Emperor Francis-Joseph I

Let’s come back to the many legends around the history of Kaiserschmarrn. They all have Emperor Francis-Joseph I of Austria at the center. This dessert is named after him for sure.

But why?

One variation on the legend features a poor cook that had nothing else to offer to his majesty than this mess… but by some miracle, the emperor liked it!

My favorite stories involve his wife Sisi (aka Elisabeth) of Austria (1837-1898). (The cheesy but very popular movies from the 1950s spell her name “Sissi“.) In one such tale, the cook prepared the dish for her majesty, thus it was a pile of Empress’ Mess instead. But the monarch misheard and thought they were talking about a plate dedicated to him, a pile of Emperor’s Mess. Obviously, nobody dared to contradict him.

Sisi (spelled Sissi in the movies), aka Elisabeth of Austria, by Austrian painter Franz Xaver Winterhalter, dated 1865. Have a look at her incredible waist of 46 cm / 18 inches! They called it a wasp's waist. With all that, she managed to be very sporty and indulge in high-calorie delights at Demel's pastry shop, among which maybe Kaiserschmarrn. Though the latter probably without the raisins. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Sisi (spelled Sissi in the movies), aka Elisabeth of Austria, by Austrian painter Franz Xaver Winterhalter, dated 1865. She suffered from anorexia. Have a look at her waist of 46 cm / 18 inches! They called it a wasp’s waist. With all that, she managed to be very sporty and indulge in high-calorie delights at Demel’s pastry shop, among which likely “Kaiserschmarrn”. Though the latter probably without the raisins, which she is said to have shunned. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

In another anecdote, the dish was again prepared for the Emperor’s wife, but she disliked it, probably because of the presence of rum-soaked raisins, the addition of which remains a matter of contention (for children, soak them in apple juice).

Although the empress was known to be anorexic and had one of the smallest waists ever heard of, she could at times eat mighty calorie bombs, a common thing for people suffering from this kind of eating disorder. We have proof in the form of pastry shop bills from Demel’s, Vienna’s leading establishment, to be seen at the Sisi Museum in Vienna, that Sisi indulged in palatable pleasures.

Upon the Empress’s surprising refusal to eat the dish, the Emperor supposedly uttered: “Hand me that mess!” Implying that food shouldn’t be let to go to waste. Hence Kaiserschmarrn, Emperor’s Mess.

This story is seemingly the only way that popular minds could justifiably make what they were told to see as a modest and frugal ruler eat such a lush and extravagant dessert. We can understand why Peter Grunauer translated Kaiserschmarrn as “Emperor’s Whim” in his restaurants and his cookbook Viennese Cuisine—A New Approach.

Iconic Stroh Inländer Rum is THE taste of Viennese pastries for almost 200 years. It exists in different strengths and slightly different look and taste: 40%, 60%, and 80%. Most of the time you'll want the 80% version. Though each one has its own use and purpose. If you can't source Stroh Rum you will probably find that Myers's Jamaican Rum is more readily available. It will be your best shot (pun intended). It's the one used even by Wolfgang Puck at Spago in Beverly Hills to make the Kaiserschmarrn in this video but it's still just a substitution rather far from the original taste though its flavor might be more familiar to you.
Iconic Stroh Inländer Rum is THE taste of Viennese pastries for almost 200 years. It exists in different strengths for a slightly different look and taste: 40%, 60%, and 80%. Each has its own use and purpose, but most of the time you’ll want to use the 40% version (for me though, it’s the 80% version). If you can’t source Stroh Rum, you will probably find that Myers’s Jamaican Rum is more readily available—at least, it’s your best shot (pun intended). It’s the one used in this video by Wolfgang Puck at Spago in Beverly Hills to make the “Kaiserschmarrn.” It’s still a substitution which brings the dish further from its original taste, but the flavor might be more familiar to you.

In the end, there’s one dilemma left for any staunch anti-monarchist, which every contemporary Austrian democrat should be: how can he possibly eat Kaiserschmarrn, a sign of allegiance to the Kaiser? Well, as they say in Vienna in democratic circles, where there is “emperor” and “mess,” or even “rubbish,” together in one word, one is allowed to partake in the food.

Is it compote or not?

Let me finish as promised with an anecdote by Friedrich Torberg insisting on the seriousness with which in pre-Holocaust Jewish Vienna one could discuss the question whether Zwetschkenröster, the above-mentioned fruit stew, Kaiseschmarrn‘s garnish, is a kind of compote or a different category of food.

The scene takes place at the famous kosher restaurant Neugröschel, which, together with restaurant Tonello, was the leading Jewish establishment on Mazzesinsel, “matzo island,” Vienna’s Jewish neighborhood in the 2nd district.

This was the site of the famed Neugröschel restaurant at Lilienbrunngasse-street on Mazzesinsel, "matzo island" in Vienna's 2nd district as seen today. This must have been where the entrance and the portal were. In the shop window display, there were live carps swimming in a big aquarium. There was also another well-known attraction: A fress-animator (to "fress" is Yiddish for eating with certain diligence), a fat guy who was eating in the shop window display all day long all the delightful items of Neugröschel's menu, certainly including Kaiserschmarrn!
The site of the famed, pre-Holocaust Neugröschel restaurant at Lilienbrunngasse-street on Mazzesinsel, “matzo island” in Vienna’s 2nd district as seen today. This must have been where the entrance and the portal were. In the shop window display, there were live carps swimming in a big aquarium. There was also another well-known attraction: A fress-animator (to “fress” is Yiddish for eating with certain diligence), a fat guy who was eating in the shop window display all day long all the delightful items of Neugröschel’s menu, certainly including Kaiserschmarrn!
This must be one of the original brick walls of Neugröschel's courtyard seating area. How many fortunate patrons gorged themselves with a likely fabulous and kosher Kaiserschmarrn shaded by trees? Apparently the Neugröschel family managed to flee, at least partially, the murder of European Jewry and could open a Neugröschel restaurant in New York. Is this wishful thinking by the part of a witness? Listen for yourself to the testimony in German. Here's a link to the oral history project describing the location and the restaurant.
This must be one of the original brick walls of the pre-Holocaust Neugröschel’s restaurant courtyard seating area. How many fortunate patrons gorged themselves here with a likely fabulous and kosher Kaiserschmarrn shaded by trees? Apparently, the Neugröschel family managed to flee, at least partially, the murder of European Jewry and could have opened a Neugröschel restaurant in New York. Is this wishful thinking by the part of a witness? Listen for yourself to the testimony in German. Here’s a link to the oral history project describing the location and the restaurant.

This anecdote features Mr. Neugröschl, the owner of the eponymous restaurant. With him, the guest was always wrong.

The closing sentences of the scene have become proverbial in Vienna:

(The following is my translation, as I do not have the English edition handy.)

The story begins one hot summer day with a guest who orders a Kaiserschmarrn.
“Which garnish?” asks the waiter under the influence of the heat, which means he’s even grumpier than usual.
“A compote.”
“What kind of compote?”
“All the same.”
After a reasonable period of time, the waiter serves the Kaiserschmarrn with a portion of Zwetschgenröster as a garnish; He wants to remove himself, but is held back by the guest:
“Mr. Waiter, I have ordered a compote as a garnish.”
The waiter says with the corresponding movement of the hand:
“Here it is.”
“What is here?”
“Your compote.”
“This is Zwetschgenröster.”
“Precisely.”
“What do you mean precisely? If I order a compote, I don’t want Zwetschgenröster. ”
“Why not?”
“Because Zwetschgenröster is not a compote!”
“Zwetschgenröster is not a compote?” Asks the waiter with provoking arrogance.
“No!” shouts the guest.
“Zwetschgenröster is a compote.” Now even the waiter elevates his voice.
“Zwetschgenröster is not a compote! Let me speak with a manager!”
This proves to be superfluous. Mr. Neugröschl, attracted by the increasing volume of the dispute, which has already been noticed by the many patrons, comes to the table and asks about the cause of all this noise. Of course, he asks the waiter and not the guest, to whom he is signaling with a sharp gesture by the hand to remain silent.
“The man ordered Kaiserschmarren with compote,” reports the waiter, “and I brought him Zwetschgenröster. ”
“Well, then.” With raised eyebrows, Mr. Neugröschl scrutinizes the unruly guest. “So, what do you want?”
“He says Zwetschgenröster is not a compote.”
“What does he say?” Mr. Neugröschl steps close to the accused. “Did you really say that?”
“Of course,” replies the guest.
“Say it again.”
“Zwetschgenröster is not a compote.”
He must have understood right from the start that he would never get his way with Mr. Neugröschel. But he certainly did not expect what came next: Mr. Neugröschl, who because of the heat was in shirt sleeves, rolls up the latter, with one hand grabbs him by the neck, with the other at the waist and carries him to the door while shouting: “You don’t need to pay, be my guest!”
Then—and this is the true essence of the story—Mr. Neugröschl plants himself in the middle of the room, staring at his guests who have sincle fell silent, and who fearfully duck over their plates. His voice sounds ominous, and as he’s clearly riled up:
“There are still a few left who say that Zwetschgenröster is not compote!” And threatening he shakes his raised fist: “But I know them all!!”

Quoted from Friedrich Torberg’s Tante Jolesch, or the Decline of the West in Anecdotes, (Munich: DTV, 1975 / Maria Poglitsch Bauer, translator; Riverside, CA: Ariadne Press, 2008), pages 77 to 79 in the German edition.

Jewish restaurant Tonello, restaurant Neugröschel's competitor on Mazzesinsel (“matzo island”) at Schwedenbrücke bridge in Vienna's 2nd district "Leopoldstadt", Obere Donaustraße 34. Today this is the site of the Sofitel building by Jean Nouvel. Photography by August Stauda in 1903. Copyright Austrian National Library / Stauda (Inventory Nr. ST 1522F).
Above Café Spitzer, Jewish restaurant Tonello, restaurant Neugröschel’s competitor on Mazzesinsel (“matzo island”) at Schwedenbrücke bridge in Vienna’s 2nd district “Leopoldstadt”, Obere Donaustraße 34. Today this is the site of the Sofitel building by Jean Nouvel. Photography by August Stauda in 1903. Copyright Austrian National Library / Stauda (Inventory Nr. ST 1522F).

So, here is my Kaiserschmarrn recipe. I honestly didn’t care much for Kaiserschmarrn before I developed this version of the recipe. But in my humble opinion, and in the esteemed opinion of my beloved test crowd—thank you Nechami, Shloimi, and Michaela—this Kaiserschmarrn recipe beats all the others we sampled.

Follow it to a tee and you’ll see—or taste—for yourself!

(I hope this was controversial enough to spurn some conversation, and look forward to your feedback and comments about this Kaiserschmarrn!)

Enjoy!

Recipes: “Kaiserschmarrn,” Imperial Messy Soufflé Pancake with a “Röster,” a “Roasted” Fruit Stew

 

I started with a recipe out of chef Kurt Gutenbrunner book Neue Cuisine. The Elegant Tastes of Vienna. I made a couple of significant changes, like the use of sour cream, and a few tweaks I saw called for to suit my style and taste. I’m sure you’ll like it!

Add Raisins (or Don’t)

This is a never-ending discussion. So just use them if you like them and leave them out if you don’t—though leaving them out you will miss out on some very crucial contrasting flavor experience.

Sour Cream vs Beaten Egg Whites

Another controversial topic. My recipe uses both, the airiness of the beaten egg whites and the delicately tart flavor of sour cream.

Cut with Knives or Torn Apart with Two Forks

I’m not apologetic about this one. I simply can’t decide though I tend towards the clean-cut squares lately. Sometimes I prefer the orderly look of the mess then again the complete randomness of shapes.

Emperor’s Messy Soufflé Pancake Recipe

Yields 2-4 servings

35g / 1.2 oz (1/4 cup) golden raisins
Dark rum
 to soak the raisins in (or apple juice)
2 large eggs separated
265g / 9.3 oz (1 1/4 cup) שמנת / sour cream (or crème fraîche, fromage blanc or yogurt)
90g / 3.2 oz (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
1 vanilla bean
5 ml / 0.17 oz (1 teaspoon) dark rum from the raisins’ soaking liquid
15g + 15g / 0.6oz + 0.6oz (1 tablespoon + 1 tablespoon) granulated sugar
Pinch of salt (iodine-free)
15g / 0.5 oz (1 tablespoon) unsalted butter
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Chilled “roasted” fruit stew (see recipe below), fruit compote, apple sauce or strawberry salad for serving 

  1. A couple of hours ahead, chill the “roasted” fruit stew (see recipe below), apple sauce, fruit compote, or strawberry salad.
  2. Soak the raisins with enough rum (or apple juice) to cover them for a couple of hours (or put the soaking raisins covered into a microwave oven for 30 seconds on high).
  3. Preheat the oven to 390°F/200°C. Prepare a rack in the middle.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sour cream (or crème fraîche, fromage blanc or yogurt).
  5. Sift the flour little by little directly into this mixture and mix well as you go.
  6. Cut the vanilla pod in half, lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds with a knife and add them immediately to the egg-yolk-sour-cream mixture. (Save the empty pod to infuse milk or cream with subtle vanilla flavor, or you can stick them in a jar of sugar to make vanilla-scented sugar which comes in very handy for Viennese baking.)
  7. Add 5 ml / 0.17 oz (1 teaspoon) of the raisins soaking liquid to this mixture.
  8. In another medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites at slow speed until frothy. (To succeed mounting egg whites all the utensils must be spotlessly clean and dry.)
  9. Add half of the granulated sugar (15g/0.6oz/1 tablespoon) and the salt and beat until the whites are thicker and whiter in color, about 2 minutes.
  10. Add the other half of the granulated sugar (15g/0.6oz/1 tablespoon) and beat until the whites hold a soft peak (When you turn your whisk upside down, the peaks should be starting to stand up on their own, but are still soft and melt back into themselves after a second.)
  11. Stir half the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture, then carefully fold in the remaining egg whites. (Video: How to fold in egg whites.) Use this batter quickly before the egg whites collapse!
  12. In a 9-inch / 24cm ovenproof skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Swirl the butter around the skillet so it coats the bottom and sides.
  13. When the butter starts to sizzle, using a rubber spatula, scrape in the batter, and cook until it begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 2 minutes.
  14. Meanwhile, quickly drain the raisins and scatter them evenly over the top of the batter.
  15. Transfer the skillet to the middle of the preheated oven and bake (no fan!) until the pancake is golden brown and the center is set, about 20 minutes.
  16. Immediately invert the pancake onto a round platter or cutting board. Using two long serrated or very sharp knives, cut the pancake into 1-inch / 2.5 cm pieces. (Hold the knives parallel in opposite directions. They should cross and touch like two sabers. Now cut with both knives simultaneously one from left to right, and the other from right to left. See the picture in the text above. If you prefer, use two forks to tear the pancake into bite-size pieces.)
  17. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately!
  18. Pass the chilled “roasted” fruit stew, apple sauce, fruit compote, or strawberry salad separately.

“Röster,” A “Roasted” Fruit Stew Recipe

It has become fashionable in recent years to base the röster on a caramel, which really adds to the flavor profile.

If you prefer to skip that part, start with step three and add just a little bit of water to get the fruits releasing their juices.

1kg / 2.2 pounds ripe damson plums or apricots.
150g / 5.3oz granulated sugar depending on how ripe the fruit is
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
Pinch of salt (iodine-free)
Freshly ground black pepper
Shot of high-quality Slivovitz or Marillenschnaps fruit brandy (the same flavor as the fruit)

  1. Halve the fruit and remove the stone. Cut the bigger pieces into quarters.
  2. Sprinkle the sugar into a saucepan large enough to hold all the fruit twice and warm up over medium heat. (Use a largeish pot, as the roaster may drip when cooking.) After about 10 minutes, the sugar will melt and to change color to a golden brown. Don’t stir! Be extra careful not to burn the caramel.
  3. Once the caramel is golden brown, immediately add the fruit and the optional cinnamon stick. The sugar will solidify as it cools down but will melt again and combine with the juices from the fruit. Cook for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the pot. The fruit pieces should remain whole.
  4. Add the fruit brandy and mix well.
  5. Let cool completely. Chill well before serving with a Kaiserschmarrn (see recipe above).

 

My children love this "Kaiserschmarrn" recipe!
My children love this “Kaiserschmarrn” recipe! Here seen with some apple sauce on the side. They can’t seem to get enough of my “Kaiserschmarrn”. Honestly, neither do I!

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Nino Shaya Weiss
Hi, I'm Shaya, an unbridled foodnik blogging from Vienna, the city of dreams and Sigmund Freud. I'm cooking up a therapy with recipes and stories from Viennese cuisine and its eclectic influences – Jewish, Italian, Hungarian, Bohemian... – with an armchair psychoanalytical twist.

4 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for all of this content. My dad and his family were Austrian (and Jewish) and fled to Croatia during the war. I feel like reading through your recipes/stories gives me glimpses of what their Austrian life was like.

    Also, the recipes are wonderful and I keep coming back to them :)

    Thank you!

    1. Dear Lynn,

      Thank you so much for leaving me this comment. It means a lot to me. It gives sens to my work. I’m glad you enjoy the recipes. This one is one of my favorites.

      Thank you!

  2. My parents were both Viennese, but came to Australia (separately) in 1939 as refugees. They did not know each other in Vienna, and actually met here in Australia amongst a small refugee community which established itself in Melbourne. Interestingly, they had attended the same school in Vienna but being three years apart, they were not in the same class. My mother lived in the Grossesperl Gasse and my father in Schwarzinger Gasse, of course in 2. Bezirk

    When Melbourne’s new Jewish community gathered together it was of course to discuss the atrocities taking place “at home” and to ask after family members and friends in case anyone had any news. They gathered in certain cafes in Melbourne, one of which was the Scheherazade Cafe in the Melbourne suburb of St.Kilda, opened by a pair of refugees and welcoming of course to all. One thing which my parents’ friends missed terribly was home cooking (even though every one of the women could cook!! they liked to go out to eat) and I remember clearly the nostalgia surrounding talk of Neugröschel and how it was one of those wonderful places which couldn’t be replicated by anything available in Melbourne. Your post ignited the memory of the conversations which took place all those years ago. Just the name “Neugröschel” almost made me cry out loud – such a silly thing, I know…..
    I have been to Vienna several times, most recently last December. It feels like a lifetime ago, with everything that is going on in the world now. I have enjoyed Kaiserschmarrn at Cafe Central in Vienna and highly recommend it to anyone visiting that magnificent city.

    1. Dear Debbie,

      Thank you so much for sharing this with us! It means a lot to me. I feel that it is very important to share words like these about how people had to flee, how they managed more or less after the Shoah, and how their children (you) remember all this. It is also important not to forget Neugröschel and the people around it. I believe it is therefore important that this kind of testimonies have the possibility to get out to the public at large. These stories about restaurant Neugröschel and the people around it, like your parents, make history so much more alive and saves them from being forgotten. That is one of my big goals here at my site, Schibboleth, revive the memory of pre-Holocaust Vienna – as well as the post-war Displaced People period.

      Thank you again for your warm message. I hope to see you around! Check out my other posts about Jewish Viennese Food, I’m sure you’ll find interesting things there too. (You can subscribe, leave your email, to be informed about new posts.)

      All the best, Nino Shaya Weiss

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