Kaiserschmarrn (Torn/Shredded Pancake)

Kaiserschmarrn (Torn/Shredded Pancake)

It’s the season for long, lazy breakfasts – one of my favourite things about December, and a big reason I hope for plenty of snow. Pancakes and waffles of all kinds, perhaps some cinnamon buns or æbleskiver – I skew toward things I don’t make on an average weekend, but still don’t always have the gumption to make cinnamon buns from scratch, even if I do plan ahead and have them ready to bake from the fridge or freezer. Enter Kaiserschmarrn – a torn or shredded pancake, also known as an Emperor’s Mess (see how it fits here?) – a puffy, eggy pancake you cook in a skillet on the stovetop or in the oven, chop or tear apart and then kind of scramble in the hot skillet with some butter, so they wind up crispy-edged and custardy in the middle. Because it’s one big pancake, it’s perfect to stick on a platter with a dish of preserves (or a drizzle of maple syrup), give everyone a fork and have them share while you snuggle on the couch and watch Christmas movies, or play a game, or whatever you love to do together at this time of year. With plenty of coffee.

By the way, the blueish box I photographed this on is the wooden box my Dad’s family of four filled with their things when they immigrated to Canada from Belgium in the early fifties. Cool, hey?

Kaiserschmarrn (Torn/Shredded Pancake)

Traditionally, the soft-crispy pancake bits are dusted with sugar and served with plum, lingonberry or apple compote, but use what you have—I can attest they’re fantastic with raspberries and rhubarb that have been simmered into sauce with some sugar. It’s common to scatter a few booze-soaked raisins over the wet batter as the bottom sets, if you want to give that a try—and you could easily make a savoury, even cheesy, soufflé-like version to serve with saucy stews, curries or braised meats! I see this in the near future, topped with something I’ve braised in the leftover beer or red wine that’s currently filling up the fridge. Happy holidays, all!

Kaiserschmarrn (Torn/Shredded Pancake)
Kaiserschmarrn (Torn/Shredded Pancake)

Kaiserschmarrn (Torn/Shredded Pancake)


December 23, 2019


4 large eggs

3/4 cup milk

2 Tbsp sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

2-4 Tbsp butter

icing sugar, for dusting

fruit compote, jam or maple syrup, for serving


1Preheat the oven to 400F. Separate the eggs into two bowls—the whites in one, yolks in another. Whisk the milk and a tablespoon of the sugar into the yolks. Beat the whites until frothy, add the other tablespoon of sugar and whip until you have softly stiff peaks.

2Stir the flour, baking powder and salt into the yolk-milk mixture and gently fold in the egg whites, maintaining as much volume as you can. Set a heavy 9 or 10-inch skillet (10 is better) over medium heat, add a chunk of butter (about 2 Tbsp), and when it melts and gets foamy, pour in the batter. Cook for about a minute, then transfer to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, until it’s puffed and golden but not quite set—you want it a bit soft and custardy in the middle.

3Take the pan out of the oven and cut the pancake into pieces with two flippers or spatulas. Often the pancake is cut into quarters to make it easier to handle— each piece is flipped before it’s torn, or the whole thing is inverted onto a cutting board. However you want to do it, pull it apart into about 1-inch pieces, and don’t worry about keeping it tidy.

4Add another chunk of butter to the pan, set it back over medium heat and toss the pieces around, almost like scrambling eggs, until they’re golden and cooked through, with some crispy edges. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm with fruit compote or maple syrup. Serves about 4.


About Julie

11 comments on “Kaiserschmarrn (Torn/Shredded Pancake)

  1. Glenda
    December 23, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    I woke up to your post today and was inspired to try this…amazing!! Two thumbs up from the teens in my house!

  2. Merida
    December 24, 2019 at 9:58 am

    Dear Julie,
    I am often lonely and sad at Christmas because my family fell apart and there are very few people left in my life. I just wanted to say that I love reading your blog because of how you make food part of relationships. That makes your recipes and all your social media meaninful in a way that cookbooks just can’t at least not to me. It makes me feel happy for other people and glad that there are families who do stuff like cuddle and watch movies together. Thanks for making me feel happy and I hope you have a very merry Christmas and a magical New Year.

  3. Dawn Scarrow
    December 24, 2019 at 11:37 am

    These were AMAZING!

  4. Eva Saxell
    January 1, 2020 at 1:06 pm

    Great idea..another spin on pancakes!..very creative! ?

  5. Joanne
    January 2, 2020 at 3:57 pm

    My husband had Austrian grandparents and he makes this for us! It looks a bit different than yours as he tears it with two forks in a cast iron pan while it cooks. We eat it with homemade rhubarb and cherries that have been canned in a sugar syrup. It’s delicious!

    • Julie
      January 5, 2020 at 1:28 pm

      Amazing!!! and yes, there are a bunch of ways to make it!

  6. Natalie Pettegrew
    January 11, 2020 at 9:24 am

    Delightful! A couple of burned fingers, since I don’t often go from stove to oven, and back again -forgot the handles were hot! It was with it!

    • Julie
      January 14, 2020 at 3:41 pm

      Oh dang, I do that a lot! So glad it was still worth it! 🙂

  7. Natalie Pettegrew
    January 11, 2020 at 9:26 am


  8. fnaf world
    May 28, 2020 at 3:58 am

    I love to cook and experiment with new recipes. I will try it the way you suggest. It is not like I do. thank you for sharing. It will be better than what I do.

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