September 13, 2010
Pauline used to make Smarni (pronounced “shmarni” or “shmori”) as a dessert for her five children when they were growing up on the farm. Called Kaiserschmarren (and schmarrn) in Austria, translated it means mishmash, fluff, nonsense and even a swear word. Smarni also makes an appearance at breakfast and is served as a fast meal at mountainside taverns and restaurants in the Alps.
One of the stories about the origin of Smarni is that in the 1800’s the beautiful Empress Elizabeth, obsessed with her waistline, was served a bit of pancake, picked at her plate, and then wouldn’t finish it. Her husband, the Emperor Franz Joseph, became frustrated and said, “What is this bit of schmarrn chef cooked up?” and then gobbled it up himself. From them on, scrambled pancake was called Schmarrn across the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The batter is similar to that of palacinky (pancakes), but is usually made with separated eggs instead of with whole. And, while cooking the thin pancake, the golden batter is shredded with a fork, so that the result is a plateful of golden, crusty bits of shredded, carmelized pancake. It’s then served sprinkled with sugar (granulated or powder), with a side of fruit compote made of pears, cherries or apricots or stewed peaches, plums or other sweetened fruit. It reminds me of those elephant ears you get at fall fairs.
- 2/3 cup flour, sifted
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 egg whites
- a pinch of salt
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- ¾ cup milk
- 2 tbsp butter, for frying
- 1/2 cup ground sugar, for dusting, or powered sugar
- Mix flour, egg yolks, salt, teaspoon of sugar and milk until well mixed.
- Beat eggs whites until stiff, and fold into yolk batter. If you’re in a hurry, use whole eggs and skip this step.
- Heat 1 tbsp butter into the frying pan.
- Pour half the batter into the pan and cook as you would a pancake.
- As it cooks, shred the cooking pancake with a fork.
- Split the smarni in half and dust with ground sugar (Pauline used to toss the sugar in with the shredded pancake in the frying pan, to let it crystallize a bit).
- Repeat for the other half of the batter to make a another batch.
- Serve with a side of apple sauce, stewed fruits, jam or fruit compote, as suggested above. Me, I prefer my Smarni served with granulated sugar and a squeeze of lemon on top.
It sounds so delicious that I think I will surprise Pauline’s great granddaughter, Miss Katerina, and make it for her breakfast today. I’ll let you know her reaction.