While cooking, listen to this: Learnin’ the Blues - Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
When my fiancé and I started dating, something we loved to talk about was our similar backgrounds. Upon first glance, it might seem like our backgrounds have zero in common: I grew up in a Jewish family in the Michigan suburbs, and he grew up in a non-religious family in “Chicken Village” in Austria. The more we got to know each other, though, the more we realized how much we had in common.
Which is, like, why we’re getting married, I guess.
Both sides of my family are deeply, 1000% European, coming from Poland, Russia, what used to be Czechoslovakia and I think more? Like, if you closed your eyes and threw a dart at a map of Eastern Europe, there is a significant chance you landed on a spot where my family is from. Now, since Peter is Austrian, his family is also deeply, 1000% European. I’ve written about my family’s connection to Austria before, but the short version is that Austrian hunters saved my grandfather’s life during the Holocaust, so I hold a lot of stock in our family’s connection to them.
All of this is to say that before long, Peter and I began what is now a track record of commonalities, like words we both grew up using, albeit while speaking two different languages, and the foods we grew up around. For example, I used the word “schmutz” once, as in “ugh, the subway was PACKED and now I feel covered in schmutz,” and he freaked out. “How do you know that word?!” he stammered.
“What do you mean? That’s our word!” I replied. Since Yiddish is a combo of mostly Hebrew and German, and German is well, German, we have these moments fairly often.
There are also a lot of foods that we both grew up eating or being around, mostly desserts. This made me really excited, because I wanted to make more desserts and things from family recipes, and now I could have two families worth! His mom even bought us a cookbook of dessert recipes that are traditionally made by and for couples in their part of Austria.
My vision was that I would make all of these lovely recipes, and Peter and I would eat them.
But the man does not like to eat dessert.
HE DOES NOT. LIKE TO EAT. DESSERT.
He is very lucky I’m still marrying him.
Since we have the blog, though, and friends who help us by taste testing and hand-modeling, there are plenty of opportunities to make an obscene amount of dessert without it going to waste. I cannot for the life of me remember if it was me or Alyssa who found this pancake recipe first, but I’m so glad one of us did. When I asked Peter how to pronounce its name he got very excited because he recognized it immediately. We knew it would be the perfect fall-is-coming comfort food, since it’s basically pancake nuggets cooked in butter and smothered in powdered sugar and fruit jam. And it has a fun name!
It comes together in twenty-five minutes and is everything you want from a chill brunch at home. Oh, and with Rosh Hashana right around the corner, we found it fitting to serve it up with an applesauce. It traditionally comes with a plum compote, but you can use whatever you want.
Even the most adamant of dessert-deniers will eat it. How do I know? Well, I made the pancake, Alyssa photographed it and then we walked away to start doing some dishes. I came back to the plate a few minutes later and it was decimated by none other than the Austrian who said he doesn’t eat desserts. Sure, babe.
If that isn’t a sign to make this immediately, I don’t know what is.
Love and meows,
KAISERSCHMARRN (aUSTRIAN tORN pANCAKE)
Yield: 2 main or 4 side servings
Active Cook Time: 15m | Inactive Cook Time: 10m | Total Cook Time: 25m
Category: Breakfast, Comfort Food, Rosh Hashana, Sweet
Source: pancake from smitten kitchen
Special Equipment: hand- or stand-mixer with whisk attachment; wide-set spatula; skillet or large, flat pan with low sides
Note: this is usually served with a plum compote/jam thing, but since we’re Michigan ladies and it’s Rosh Hashana we went with an applesauce. You can use any fruit you want, or none at all, but it will be exponentially better with some jam on top.
applesauce (optional but highly recommended)
4 medium apples (see note above)
juice from 1 small lemon, plus more to taste
2 cups water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup light or dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
tiny pinch salt
4 large eggs, separated
2 Tablespoons white sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup milk of choice
2-3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Generous amount powdered sugar
Prepare the apples: core, peel and chop the apples. If you’re going for a smooth consistency at the end, the size of the apple pieces doesn’t matter. If you like some bits in there (like we do), try to keep the pieces as even as possible, about 1-inch or so.
Cook the applesauce: in a medium saucepan add the apples, lemon juice, water, vanilla, brown sugar, cinnamon nutmeg and tiniest pinch of salt. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to a simmer and let cook for 35 minutes, stirring once in a while to make sure it isn’t burning on the bottom. Cook for 10 minutes more, or until the sauce has gotten thick and most of the apple pieces have mushed together.
Blend/mash/leave apples alone: if you like smooth applesauce, use an immersion blender directly in the pan or transfer to a high-speed blender to blend until smooth. If you like some texture, use a potato masher to lightly mash into a desired consistency. You can also just leave it alone! Allow to cool while you make the pancake.
Make pancake batter: while the applesauce is cooling, make the pancake batter. In a large bowl combine the egg yolks, sugar, salt and baking powder and whisk together. Whisk in millk, then flour, whisking until the mixture is just combined and smooth. Let it rest for 10 minutes; while it’s resting, beat the egg whites until they hold firm peaks. Fold the egg whites into the egg yolk batter - do your best to not deflate the mixture.
Cook pancake: place a large skillet or pan with low sides over medium heat and add 2 Tablespoons butter. When it’s melted, pour the batter into the pan and spread into an even layer. Let cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the bottom is a lovely golden brown. You can reduce the heat if it’s getting too brown too fast. Some people can flip this over in one piece; I cannot. Deb suggests tipping the pancake onto a plate, then inverting it back into the pan; I cannot do that either. If you’re like me, do your best to flip the pancake in one or two (or more, it happens) pieces. It gets torn up anyway so it’s all good! Cook for another 3 minutes or so, until the second side is just as golden brown as the first. A runny center is a good thing here.
Tear pancake: there are two ways to do this: you can use two forks to shred the pancake directly in the pan, or you can put the pancake on a plate and shred it there. I prefer the latter method (as does Deb). Do what feels right, just make sure the pieces are bit-sized. When the pancake is shredded, add another Tablespoon of butter to the pan and lightly fry the pancake bits for a minute or so, until they get a bit crispy but still have a soft center.
To serve: put the pancake shreds on a serving plate and smother them in sifted powdered sugar. Add some of your applesauce or jam of choice and you’re ready to go.
To keep: the pancake should be eaten immediately. If you like to preserve things the applesauce could definitely be jarred and kept for months if done properly. If you just want it hanging out in the fridge, it’ll stay good for about 1 week or so.