Kratzete or Eierhaber doesn’t really have an English name which is why I only refer to it by its German name. It’s a savory version of the Austrian Kaiserschmarrn and usually served as a side dish for asparagus with sauce hollandaise or goulash.
It’s a truly Southern German dish that usually cannot be found in the Northern parts. You might wonder how an Austrian dessert became a popular German side dish. That is, because, there is actually a close connection between Austria and Swabia.
The Austrian House of Habsburg used to possess some parts of what is now Southwest Germany and the Alsace region. This part of Austria was collectively called Further Austria (‘Vorderösterreich’). The Swabian areas of Further Austria remained under the control of Austria until the Napoleonic Era. It was after the Congress of Vienna in 1815 that the last remaining parts of Further Austria became German or Swiss territory. However, the emblem of Further Austria can still be found in today’s emblem of the German state Baden-Württemberg.
And not just that. Both cuisines still share many similar dishes like:
- Pancake soup (‘Flädlesuppe’, ‘Frittatensuppe’)
- Steak with fried onions (‘Zwiebelrostbraten’)
- Spätzle, Knöpfle, Nockerl
- Steamed yeast buns (‘Dampfnnudeln’, ‘Germknödeln’)
- Semolina dumpling soup (‘Grießklöschensuppe’, ‘Grießnockerlsuppe’)
- Pancakes (‘Pfannkuchen’, ‘Palatschinken’)
- Sausage salad (‘Wurstsalat’)
The Building Blocks of German Cusine Series
This article is part of my basics series, which will introduce you to key ingredients and preparation methods. You can find all these articles in the ‘Basics’ category of this blog. Listed below are the articles that have yet been published in this series:
- Swabian Pretzels (‘Schwäbische Laugenbrezeln’)
- Kratzete, Eierhaber
- Duchess Potatoes (‘Herzoginnenkartoffeln’)
- Ribbon Noodles (‘Bandnudeln’)
- Muesli (‘Müsli’)
- Breakfast Bread Rolls (‘Weizenbrötchen’)
- Potato Puree (‘Kartoffelbrei’)
- German Potato Dumplings Bavaria-style (‘Bayerische Kartoffelknödel’)
- German Potato Dumplings Thuringia-style (‘Thüringer Kartoffelklöse’)
- German Bread Dumplings (‘Semmelknödel’)
- German Potato Pancakes (‘Reibekuchen’)
- Potato Noodles (‘Schupfnudeln’)
- German Boiled Potatoes (‘Kartoffeln’)
- Homemade Beef broth (‘Fleischbrühe’)
- German Pancakes (‘Pfannkuchen’)
- Homemade Semolina Soup Noodles (‘Hartweizen-Suppennudeln’)
- Chicken Broth (‘Hühnerbrühe’)
- Spaetzle (‘Spätzle’)
How to prepare the Kratzete dough
The most important thing to keep in mind for Kratzete is that it has to be light and fluffy. The batter shouldn’t contain any leavening agents like baking powder or yeast. All the air is incorporated through the whipped egg whites.
To get a good rise in the pan the batter needs to have the consistency of a very thick liquid rather than a sturdy dough. That way the air bubbles can expand farther preventing the Kratzete from becoming too dense.
The Austrian word Kaiserschmarrn might literally translate to ’emperor’s mess’ but that is no accurate description of this dish at all. In fact, it requires some skill to prepare it perfectly. You need to have a good sense of heat control because this recipe is a stovetop version. You won’t need to put the frying pan in the oven.
That means the heat needs to be moderate enough so that the bottom isn’t burnt until the batter is fully set. The Kratzete should have a good sear but it shouldn’t be black. A nice rich dark brown color is preferable.
It’s up to you how thick you like the torn pancake pieces to be. If in doubt, make them rather too small than too big. Their main purpose is to soak up the gravy. More pieces mean more surface area which means more gravy for you.