kaiserschmarrn with peaches and blackberries

kaiserschmarrn = peachy loveliness and the mess of the emperor ::::

The perfect peach. Swells of berries. ‘Tis the season here in California. The farmers’ markets are all atwitter with peaches, pluots, and various berries making their sweet appearances. And our family is all over that. It’s been a long time coming, this pilgrimage to the place of stone fruit and thatches dripping with berries, not realizing in my childhood that it is a gift and a privilege to have such an abundance. When in Cambridge, England, I often walked to classmates’ homes in one particular neighborhood, filled with Catholic families and Irish twins, requisite puppies bounding in gardens and guinea pigs rolling in timothy grass, to the neighborhood corner of blackberry tangles. My 10-year-old self and friends would often rummage through thorns, scouring the hedges for blackberries before heading home, the stigmata of juice staining our fingertips.

Our peach tree came later, back in the United States, finally producing fruit after 10 years of barrenness. It surprised me: what? this is a a peach tree? My mother smiled happily, knowing we would have the fun of plucking fruit whenever we wanted to. We watched the velvety green nubs ripen into the colors of the humid Illinois summer sunsets: Carnivale oranges and yellows. Our guinea pigs, not British-born or caged in the timothy hay, would freely laze under the lilac tree or the peach tree in the summer heat. We couldn’t keep up with the peaches as the summer wore on, browning and smushy on the lawn. The fruit dropped into the neighbors’ yard, the teenage girls always coated with a layer of baby oil and setting up foil-reflecting apparatuses for tanning. They moved their tanning farther from our fence. The guinea pigs, as smart as they were, headed for the shade and sweet smell of the lilacs over the fermented, fly-ridden peach lumps obscuring lazing space and shade.

Fresh boysenberries and blackberries

And now I have found the marriage of blackberries and peaches for a new memory: kaiserschmarrn.  Literally, this Austrian German word means “emperor” and “nonsense”, or “the emperor’s mess.” It’s the royal treatment for breakfast or dessert, all in a beautiful mess of pancake and fruit. You don’t have to be neat and tidy, and your guests will still be impressed with your breakfast (maybe not the morning breath). This recipe captures just the right amount of sweetness of from the peaches and some pretty tart berries without the added sugar overpowering it.

A mess this dish may be, but designing a new website is not. I made allusions to my new design a month ago, fully intending for it to be ready for its reveal by now. Photo migration issues and my propensity to keep switching themes around (I’ve finally decided now!) are being worked out. I think we are in the home stretch. The site is going to shine!

kaiserschmarrn with peaches and blackberries
Recipe type: breakfast
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 firm, ripe medium peaches—peeled, quartered and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Pinch of salt
  • ⅓ cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 1 pint blackberries (thawed frozen blackberries also work well)
  1. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, melt ½ tablespoon of the butter. Add the peaches, 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar and the lemon juice and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the peaches are tender and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the peaches to a plate and clean the skillet.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, milk, egg yolks, zest and 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar until smooth. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt until soft peaks form. Beat in the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar until the whites are glossy. Fold the whites into the batter until no streaks remain.
  3. In the skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the batter, cover and cook over moderately low heat until it is golden on the bottom and the top is beginning to set, 4 to 5 minutes. Slide the pancake onto a large plate.* Carefully invert the skillet over the pancake. Using oven mitts, flip the skillet and the plate to return the pancake to the pan. Cook until the underside of the pancake is set and lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
  4. Using a wooden or heatproof plastic spatula, cut the pancake in the skillet into 2-inch squares. Dot with the remaining 2½ tablespoons of butter, sprinkle with the ⅓ cup of confectioners' sugar and top with the peaches. Cook, tossing, until the pancake is caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add the blackberries and toss until they are heated through, about 1 minute. Transfer the kaiserschmarrn to a platter, sprinkle with confectioners' sugar and serve.**
* I actually did not flip the pancake this way, as the pan I was using was very heavy and larger than 12 inches. I decided to flip with a wide spatula, not caring that it was a half-assed job. Since the pancake was to be cut up into small squares anyway, I used this step to start the cutting, albeit haphazardly, early. ** I served mine right from the pan. I liked the messy blackberry juice on the pan sides and the overall disheveled appearance. True to its name kaiserschmarrn, for sure.

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