The Real Story of The Kaiserschmarrn Dessert

My Inner Voice | Written By, Harald Wiesmann |

If you have never tried a Kaiserschmarrn, then you really are missing out on one of the best and richest desserts in the world. And what goes very well with this pancake dessert is a Sauternes, Ausbruch, Beerenauslese or Vin Santo. It is the ideal sweet wine dish for anytime. It is made of a shredded pancake with powdered sugar, dried grapes and a plum mousse on the side. But it has one default – the dessert is not loved by the French, so it never became actually famous.


The name Kaiserschmarren is a combination of the words Kaiser (meaning emperor) and Schmarren (meaning scrambled or shredded). Schmarren is also a colloquialism used in Austrian and Bavarian to mean trifle, mishmash, mess, rubbish, or nonsense.

My story about this dish starts in the year 1870 in Berlin where the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I visited the German King Wilhem I in the Berliner Palace. Just 4 years prior Wilhelm had just defeated the Austrian army, so as one can imagine the beginning of their talk was a bit frosty and needed a good glass of a Mosel Riesling wine called Piesporter Goldtroepfchen. During this time there were also talks of King Wilhelm I becoming the first German Kaiser (emperor) and actually it was for this reason that the Austrian Emperor came to visit. Also, it is important to mention that Prussia was at war with France over the south of Germany. The kingdoms of Bayern and Baden Wuertemberg had joined the Prussian army and Prussia was on the brink of winning.

King Wilhelm I sat deep in his arm chair and making a sorrowful face while tapping thoughtfully at his chin. Wilhelm finally started the conversation with a positive tone since he has known the Austrian emperor since he was a child. “Now my dear Friend Franz. You must be quite content with your politics in your country. Taking Hungary to be part of your kingdom was a big move from your side. I believe the Tokay will have its special place at your wine cellars and banquets from now on?”


Emperor Franz Joseph I gave a very big smile back and clapped happily while he explained. “Dear Wilhelm, yes, yes. I love this Hungarian sweet wine and especially the perfumes of this Tokay wine, aaaahhh so much honey. Furthermore I like to say that we are now very settled and even Russia is a bit quieter now since my army has doubled. Actually I would like to tell you about my next moves too. Bosnia and Serbia are next. By the end of this Century my Kingdom will be the biggest in Europe besides Russia. But I hear you are nearly done with the French. Is this the truth?”

Franz_Joseph_1865 Wilhelm-I-of-Germany

With this question King Wilhelm I leaned forward in his chair and raised his arms up into the air in celebration. “This is what gets me thinking. Soon I will be in Paris and I will imprison this Napoleon III. But what makes me unhappy is that I am not certain about their reparations. After all it is our neighbour and you do not want us to make them angry irritated, would you Franz?”

Emperor Franz Joseph I on hearing this began to look a little more like philosopher Frans Joseph. “Dear Wilhelm, but of course I would give them a lesson they will never forget”.

King Wilhelm I was a little doubtful and actually did not know what to say here. “What do you mean by this Franz. What do you intend to do?”

The Emperor smiled and surprisingly took a bottle of wine out of his jacket. It was a small bottle of the Tokay. “Dear Wilhelm the best way to show you this is with my most preferred dessert, Pancake and Plum Jam. Please call your chef and I will tell him what to prepare and to bring.“

When the Chef came, Emperor Franz Joseph I said “My good Chef, please bring us a plate with a Pancake and on the side I would like to have powder sugar, dried raisins and a small bowl of plum jam. Further I need three spoons, a fork and a knife.

While this was being prepared, both men drank the Tokay 6 Puttonyos. “This is the highest quality of a Tokay and the biggest different between this Tokay and your Spaetlese or Auslese is that it uses more grapes and has increased acidity in the great and long final.” Emperor Franz Joseph I explained. King Wilhelm nods his head in acknowledgement.


When all the ingredients were placed at the table between the two Monarchs, Emperor Franz Joseph I began to explain his war strategy to King Wilhelm I.

“Now, Wilhelm, the pancake is the remainder of the French army. The first thing you do is, you take your big cannons made by Krupp, and use them against the French, who only have canons that can fire 2km, am I right?“ King Wilhelm I simply nods his head in anticipation. Then Emperor Franz Joseph, using a spoon full of dried grapes, theatrically sprinkled them over the pancakes to symbolise cannonballs. “You shoot until they is no more return of fire”, continued Franz Joseph. “After this you come with your battalion and your fast guns – da da da da!” And with another spoon he took the white sugar powder and coated the entire pancake. The Emperor took the knife and the fork and began to cut the pancake quite frantically. Firstly in long stripes in one direction then from the other. “The French army is finished – smashed to pieces, you see! But now, my dear King Wilhelm, what do you do next?”, questioned Franz Joseph as he took a spoon full of the plum jam and mixed it in with the pancake on the East side of the plate. He takes a bite “Mhhhhmmmm, so good”, said the Emperor, “This section represents the area of Alsace and Lothringia, which you shall take from France for good. After all these people do in a way speak German. By the way, Wilhelm, this is a new dessert creation and we should call it, Kaiserschmarren. Please try!”


So, dear readers, from the story above I do hope you now understand why the French do not really like this dessert and why the Germans love it. By the way, Germany really did take over the regions of Alsace and Lothringia but lost it again in 1918 after World War I.

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About Author :

Harald Wiesmann

Harald Wiesmann, Restaurant Manager of the fine dining, Asian-inspired Haute Cuisine Kayuputi and Chief Sommelier at The St. Regis Bali Resort, has a very interesting career history spanning a number of years with different roles in various countries. His 45 years of international experience has led Kayuputi to receive prestigious awards from the Wine Spectator Magazine (USA) for seven consecutive years since its opening nine years ago, and dubbed as a fine restaurant that has one of the best wine lists in the Asian region. Harald is set to publish his book, titled “The Inner Voice of a Sommelier in Bali” in the near future we hope.



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