Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Pancake Day

Pancake Poem | Tummy Tingles ©1934

It's Pancake Day, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras and Carnival all rolled into one. It's a day to think about spring cleaning and the day to act on a little bit of soul cleaning. It's the day before Lent begins. It could just as well be Fritters Day, or Crepes Day as the notion is to have that last fling of indulgence before the fast begins. I thought it would be fun to celebrate Pancake Day with a couple of "famous" pancake recipes.


Kaiserschmarrn is an Austrian dessert. It is servings of caramelized pancakes usually dotted with raisins or spiked with chopped apples. The pancakes are shredded into strips while they are still frying and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Kaiserschmarrn is served hot with various fruit compotes, including plum, lingonberry, strawberry or apple.

The translation of the word Kaiserschmarren has generated some etymological debate. The name of the dish comes from the literal German translation of the word Kaiser, meaning Emperor and Schmarrn which most can't agree on an accurate translation. None the less, It is generally agreed that the dish was first prepared for the Austrian Emperor Francis (Franz ) Joseph I. Here are two interpretations which also include recipes:

Kaiser's Schmarren tanslates loosely to "Emperor's Pain". It was a dish we would have for supper on those days when we wanted a break from meat or poultry dishes. It's name comes from the stories of how Franz Joseph, the Emperor of Austria-Hungary, would emit groans of pleasure when he ate this pancake like dish. Oooooooo, Ummmmmmmm, Ahhhhhhh! At any rate, it is a very good dish for a summer or winters eve. It is always served with a side dish of fresh fruit or cooked fruit like plums, cherries or peaches, or a side dish of Hungarian Cucumber Salad. source
Kaiserschmarren (Emperors pancake)– the Austrian pancakes were created for Franz Josef I (1848–1916). Kaiser is the German word for emperor. In the times of monarchy people created new dishes and named it after their Kaiser. Kaiser Schmarren is made of a thick pancake dough. Raisins join a melting piece of butter in a wide iron pan. The batter joins in. All bakes until nice brown on one side, then the thick pancake is flipped and baked on the other side as well. Then torn into pieces with the help of two forks sugar is added and all gets stired and the pan moved back and forward until sugar caramelizes. Stacked on a plate, powdered with sugar and served with plum preserves, here called Zwetschken Roester, this is Kaiser Schmarren. The other was a big plate of Kaiserschmarren, sort of like an American style pancake that has been scrambled like an egg partway through cooking and served with a thick plum jam. (source)

Pancakes a La Rossini

"Appetite is for the stomach what love is for the heart."

I chose Pancakes a La Rossini as another "famous" pancake dish to celebrate for Pancake Day because February 29th also happens to be the birth day of the great Italian composer Gioacchino Rossini. (yes, he was born on Leap Day) Gioachino Antonio Rossini was born in Italy on February 29, 1792. It is often said that if Rossini had not been the composer he was, he may have been more famous as the greatest gastronomes of the 19th Century. Right up there with the likes of Diamond Jim Brady, (different era) Gioacchino Rossini often fantasized about food as he did music. Rossini had many dishes named in his honor. Most of the dishes that became associated with him were devised when he lived in Paris in the 1850s and 1860s. It is said the great chef at Delmonico's Restaurant, Charles Ranhofer created "Meringued pancakes à la Rossini" in his honor. Charles Ranhofer had a talent for naming dishes after famous or prominent people--particularly those who dined at Delmonico's, as well as his friends, and events of the day.

During his voluntary exile in Paris, the Italian composer of Barbiere di Siviglia dreamt of sausages, lasagne and ripe cheeses wherever he was. Fully aware of his own little weakness he wrote to his friends while he was composing the Stabat Mater: "I'm looking for musical ideas and all that comes into my head is pies, truffles and things like that." source
Great chefs dedicated many dishes to him, such as Poached Eggs alla Rossini, Chicken alla Rossini, and Fillet of Sole alla Rossini. Dedicated to Figaro, his immortal personage, was a type of extra- fine pastries or "pasticcini". Dedicated to his opera, William Tell, was a tart served on the occasion of the opera's 1829 Paris opening night; naturally, it was an apple tart decorated with an apple transpierced by a sugar arrow alongside a sugar crossbow...The famous book of recipes written by Escoffier, which has become a culinary bible of modern cuisine, contains so many recipes dedicated to the Maestro that they could complete an entire menu. source

Pancakes a La Rossini

The following recipe for Pancakes a La Rossini comes directly from the Epicurean published in 1894. It is available @ Feeding America. I have included the entire recipe with the exception of the "cooking of the sugar" which is quite detailed and probably would be easier to understand if viewed right at the site. I have provided the link below. Read through the recipe carefully. It looks more complicated than it really is and certainly worth the effort in indulgence.

Pancakes a La Rossini
Place in a vessel half a pound of flour, one ounce of sugar, a pinch of salt, lemon peel and two tablespoonfuls of orange flower water; beat with a whip to mix well and dilute the preparation with five gills of cream, afterward adding three ounces of melted butter. Heat two small pancake pans, wipe them nicely and brush with clarified butter; pour into each one two spoonfuls of the preparation, spreading it over well and set it on a slow fire. As soon as the pancake begins to dry turn it over quickly and a few seconds later invert it on a baking sheet; finish cooking all the preparation the same way. Cover each pancake with a layer of apricot marmalade (No. 3675) and roll them up on themselves. Spread a thick layer of pastry cream (No. 46) on the bottom of a dish, dress over the pancakes, forming them into a pyramid and cover with a layer of vanilla meringue with sugar (No. 140); decorate the summit with a rosette of the meringue pushed through a channeled socket pocket and the base with a circle of hollows; sprinkle lightly with sugar and push into a very slack oven to color the meringue, then fill the hollows with currant jelly (No. 3670) and apricot marmalade (No. 3675). A Madeira sabayon sauce (No. 3095) is to be served apart. source

Apricot Marmalade (recipe #3675)
Split some very ripe apricots or peaches in two, suppress the kernels, mince and put them into a copper pan with a few spoonfuls of water. Melt over the fire, stirring constantly with a spatula, then strain the pulp through a sieve and weigh it. Cook three-quarters of its weight of sugar to "small crack" (No. 171); when it has attained this degree remove from the fire and pour the pulp into it, stirring vigorously; continue to cook until it coats the skimmer and the jelly drops in beads, then transfer immediately to stone pots or glasses heated beforehand. The jam must be quite cold before covering it over; keep in a cool, dry place.
Pastry Cream (recipe #46)
Place ten egg-yolks in a tinned basin, adding half a pound of sugar and an ounce of fecula or corn starch; mix the ingredients well together and dilute with a quart of boiling milk, having had half a vanilla stick infused therein. Stand it on the fire and stir continually until it thickens and is ready to boil, then pour into a vessel to use when needed.
Plain Meringue with Cooked Sugar (recipe #140)
The preparation for meringues is composed of twelve or fifteen egg-whites for each pound of powdered sugar; set these whites in a basin with a grain of salt and beat up with a whip, very slowly at first, but increasing the velocity of the movement as the quantity becomes greater. The beaten whites should be stiff and remarkably smooth; then mix in the sugar a little at a time, using a wooden spoon for the purpose.
Italian Meringue with Cooked Sugar. -Cook one pound of sugar to "ball" (No. 171); incorporate a very little of it at a time into six beaten whites, without ceasing to stir; when all the sugar is absorbed work it for two minutes longer on a slow fire to have it very smooth. sugar link
Currant Jelly (recipe #3670)
Have one pound of currants free of stalks and one pound of powdered sugar; mix both together in a vessel without crusting the currants; when the sugar is dissolved pour the whole into a copper pan and stand it on the fire; after it has been boiling for five or six minutes the syrup will have cooked to the proper degree, that is, until it coats the skimmer and drops from it in beads. Now pour the fruit and syrup on to a sieve laid over a vessel fit to receive the liquid, and use this to fill jelly glasses; keep slightly warm for two hours, then leave to cool before covering the glasses with paper.

1. Charles Ranhofer Epicurean @ Feeding America
2. Rossini & Wine
3. Rossini on Food
4. Quick Links: Pancake Day 2009


  1. Informative, delicious and carbohydrate-laden--I think we are soul mates! :-) Wonderful post!

  2. HI Jessie,
    Thanks so much for visiting. I appreciate your kind words. Just can't bring myself to get "into" anything less filling than "real food" with "real calories."

    Good thing I don't munch out on all this stuff...as I sit here shoveling peanut butter cups and wonder whether I should popover for a cupcake! Here I go:)


Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise